Advice for Starting/Growing Peppers?

Branching Out

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I think a tunnel will be very helpful for you; in my experience peppers are more in need of trapped heat than endless sunlight. Even sweet peppers tend to grow better for me with a little bit of shade.
I was thinking of this post Heirloomgal when I read Quail Seeds' Jamie Chevalier's post on summer crops including her thoughts on growing peppers, which is at the very bottom of this post: https://www.quailseeds.com/how-to/plants-of-summer-beans-corn-squash
Her thought is that peppers prefer sunlight from directly above (rather than the blazing sun hitting the plants from the side) during the heat of summer, with some radiant heat to keep them warmer overnight. I like her suggestion of keeping peppers in pots so you can locate them in the garden in spots where bush beans can shade them from the side. She also places stones on the surface of the soil, so that they can slowly release their heat overnight to keep the roots of the plant warmer. We have a low poly tunnel that I may try positioning over my pepper patch this year, to achieve that 'trapped heat'-- and there is no shortage of stones around here. Lol.
 

heirloomgal

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I was thinking of this post Heirloomgal when I read Quail Seeds' Jamie Chevalier's post on summer crops including her thoughts on growing peppers, which is at the very bottom of this post: https://www.quailseeds.com/how-to/plants-of-summer-beans-corn-squash
Her thought is that peppers prefer sunlight from directly above (rather than the blazing sun hitting the plants from the side) during the heat of summer, with some radiant heat to keep them warmer overnight. I like her suggestion of keeping peppers in pots so you can locate them in the garden in spots where bush beans can shade them from the side. She also places stones on the surface of the soil, so that they can slowly release their heat overnight to keep the roots of the plant warmer. We have a low poly tunnel that I may try positioning over my pepper patch this year, to achieve that 'trapped heat'-- and there is no shortage of stones around here. Lol.
I think I originally read about the peppers & shade in the book 'The Pepper Garden' by Dave DeWitt, the 'Pope of Peppers'. There were pictures in his book of these fields peppers in New Mexico (I think), and shade cloth was brought in for certain parts of the day to hang over the crop. There was an accompanying paragraph in the book discussing the idea that peppers are an understory plant in their natural habitat and that they really have not evolved to be full on sun worshippers.
 

ducks4you

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I'm not gonna keep mine in pots. I guess I will take my chances with a full sun, full south facing location and see how they do. Right now I have up potted 22 Sweet Red Bell peppers and 10 Fooled You Jalepanoes. I am working on other garden project and plan to keep them well watered on top of heat mats and inside under gro lights for the next month. I want REALLY GOOD roots bc I have killed them in the past when the roots were too shallow.
If I could go back I would have started my peppers from seed in March, instead of April.
On Mid American Gardener that chart that I copied last March, (from U of IL College of A.C.E.S. Professor Emeritis) Chuck Vogt's Seed Starting Calendar, became quite the rage!
There were comments, like, "He GAVE THAT TO YOU?!?!?"
like it was some kind of secret.
HE said to start peppers in March, but I got busy.
I consider my seed starting this year to be very successful.
I don't have any purple stemmed tomatoes, although the germination rate for the sweet peppers is about 35%, many seeds were 2 years old, AND I didn't kill them!!! :weee :weee :weee
 

Zeedman

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I think I originally read about the peppers & shade in the book 'The Pepper Garden' by Dave DeWitt, the 'Pope of Peppers'. There were pictures in his book of these fields peppers in New Mexico (I think), and shade cloth was brought in for certain parts of the day to hang over the crop. There was an accompanying paragraph in the book discussing the idea that peppers are an understory plant in their natural habitat and that they really have not evolved to be full on sun worshippers.
Agreed, peppers do appreciate some light shade.

When I grow peppers for seed, I cover those plants with a light grade of spun polyester row cover, to prevent crossing. The cover is placed over a PVC cage frame, and all sides buried at the ground except the downwind side, which is held down by heavy weights. The weighted side provides access for weeding & harvest.

The peppers remain fully covered for about a month, until the peppers which have set become visible; then the weighted side is clipped open to allow insect predators. (If the cover is left closed too long, the aphid population can explode, and severely weaken the plants.) Once open, wasps, ladybugs, lacewings, and syrphid fly larvae quickly consume any aphid buildup. The cages remain open until cooler Autumn nights arrive, or until the peppers are harvested.

What I've noticed is that the pepper plants grown under the light shade of the covers are much more productive than the same peppers grown uncovered. This is due not only to a heavier set, but that there are no losses due to sun scald, and far fewer damaged by snails or insects. IMO the peppers also benefit from the increased humidity within the cages, which may contribute to the heavier set (tomatoes & beans suffer under the cages from that same humidity). I do have to watch for mice late in the season though, as their other food sources begin to disappear.

Peppers do so well under the cages that I even caged the greenhouse plants I purchased last year, although I had no intention of saving seed from those. Even planted 3 weeks late, the production was incredibly high. I would especially recommend this method for growing bell peppers, which are more vulnerable to sun scald... and jalapeno production under a cover can be phenomenal. I've also planted peppers in partial shade behind a row of pole beans, with good results.
 
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Zeedman

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BTW, I started a few more pepper & tomato varieties this year than I actually intended to plant, because this was all seed from 2015-2017, and I fully expected at least one or two varieties to be dead. So of course, EVERYTHING came up! :th Two varieties had a germination rate below 50% though (Djuric 33%, Tennessee Cheese 42%) so they definitely would not have survived much longer. As in years past, hot peppers tended to have a higher germination rate than sweet peppers of the same age. Quite a few peppers germinated in the 87-97% range, but the only pepper that came up 100% this year was the 10 seeds of Thunder Mountain Cacho... so kudos to Sherwoods Seeds for sending high-quality seed. :thumbsup

I've revised the garden plan to accommodate at least a few of every pepper (and most of those caged for seed).

Tomatoes, because of the distance I use to isolate them for seed saving, did not fare as well. It didn't help that since my neighbor decided to move their tomato garden directly across the fence from my big home plot, I can now grow one less tomato there for seed saving. I offered to give them plants, so the same variety would be on both sides of the fence... but they want to grow more than one kind. :( So as someone who advocates for people to start gardening, I just need to grin, bear it, and give them even more plants. Happy gardeners make good neighbors.

I'm suddenly getting a powerful urge to start digging up lawn on the other side of my house. :rolleyes:
 

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