Growing Peppers (Bells and Chilis, Too!) in Raised Beds

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Are you thinking about cultivating some pepper plants in your raised garden? Good on you! Peppers are a vegetable that are ideal for the condition of elevated beds, and with all the different types out there, you will always have a use for. I add them to my tuna salad, spaghetti sauce, omelets, you name it. And that’s just the green ones! If you like yours with a little bit sweeter taste, you’ll probably enjoy the red ones.

Whenever I have an abundance of peppers and any I’m not using at the moment, I just dice them up, de-seed them and bag them up for the freezer to use in the future. So they’re easy to preserve too. Now let’s look at the in’s and out’s of growing them,

ggrowing peppers

Types and Varieties of Pepper Plants

Like tomatoes, peppers belong to the nightshade family. They like nice, warm soil that is moist but not too damp. We planted our first set of chilis on the other side of the tomatoes.

The abundance of pepper plant types is supremely diverse. You’ve got red, orange, yellow, purple, green, and even white. Don’t forget the wide variety of chili peppers too.For those of you who enjoy Mexican cooking (myself included) you’ll want to think about having chilis in your repertoire for sure.

Chili peppers include jalapenos, cayenne pepper, jut to name a few, but they all having varying degrees of heat – which comes from the ingredient capsicum – I have to warn you, when you’re busy dicing them up, you’ll want to wash your hands and the knife you were using, I forgot and my eyes and cheeks were flushed royally. Not going to make that mistake again.

Another type I enjoy are banana peppers – which are crunchy and not that hot, but they make a great addition to sandwiches and salads. We grew a bunch of them last year and they produced a great yield! They get somewhat large, more so than chilis -about 5-6″ in length although they are shaped like jalapenos.

Another thing I love about bell peppers, is all the colors they come in. At a recent yard sale I stopped at, the vendor had a small myriad of plants out…one thing she offered me was a “rainbow” plant…I’ve never heard of this before. (No, they do not actually come out with each individual fruit being all the colors of the rainbow…can you imagine that??) But apparently they do produce green, red, orange, yellow and purple peppers all from the same plant.

We also got a Thai Chili in addition to cayennes and bananas,.Here are the “rainbows” we set out yesterday!

rainbow pepper plants in bed

Soil and Sunlight Considerations

They like a lot of light, at least 6 hours of sunlight per day, and good, moist soil that is slightly acidic.Or neutral, It can be slightly loamy or sandy, it just needs to be well-drained.

Keep it moist as you water, just don’t over-saturate it. Adding some compost would be a good idea. They take best to soil that is about 75-80 in temperature. And since the soil in raised beds is naturally warmer, this is an ideal situation.

Spacing of Pepper Plants

All of our pepper plants (with the exception of the ones that are in containers) are set out about a foot apart. Keep in mind that bell peppers get taller but chili peppers grow outward with a little of a bushy appearance. This is normal and encouraged. Some people (including the vendor at the yard sale) claim it is important to decapitate or top off pepper plants to encourage more outward growth. but this is only half-true.

Bell peppers should remain as is, but chili pepper plants need to be topped off when they are very young – in fact, you should do this before you plant them in the ground. If there are a few blossoms on top, remove these with your pruning shears. Trim about an inch off the main stem. This action will promote healthier outgrowth from the middle and a more abundant yield.

It’s not a bad idea to stake bell pepper plants when/if they start to get tall, if will provide some added stability. Chili and hot pepper plants will always grow in a “bushy” pattern and not sprawl out too much, they’ll get to a height of about 2 feet at most, usually.

Germination and Harvest

The average length of time from seed to full maturity is about 60-90 days.There is such a thing as a plant producing fruit “too soon”. As a matter of fact, we had that happen – we spotted an early bloomer in the last week of April. Is that a good sign? Not exactly!

trimming juvenile chili pepper

There were other little bitty chili peppers emerging, and since the plant is still a juvenile, we trimmed them off, as this could stunt their growth. Make sure you do the same if you see little peppers showing up too early (although it may be exciting to see them….)

When you see the fruits ready to be picked, don’t yank them. Pepper plant stems are quite robust, and they don’t give in easily. I use a small kitchen paring knife to cut the fruit. As they grow their flavor will change, too. When pepper fruits are small, they have a kind of bitter taste, so allow them to get to their full size in which they will taste a little sweeter.

Depending on the variety you’re growing, they may change color from green to red. I hope to keep you posted on how the rainbow one turns out…I’m excited to see what’s in store here!

 

I’ve found that they will produce fruit well into fall if cultivated well, last year around October was when the yield started to drop off…after that I overwintered the plants I had left inside.

Here’s a look at some of our pepper bounty from last summer…Not too shabby, huh? That’s jalapenos, bells, and Bananas.

peppers from last year

And here is a snapshot of our Thai peppers. When I first picked them, they were all dark green, but a few days later, I noticed some of them turning red. This is normal.Once they start turning red, though, they will get HOT! So watch out, especially when you cut them.

thai chili peppers

Wrap-Up

So I hope you enjoy growing your own peppers in your elevated beds, they’re’s a lot to choose from, you may have to try a number of different types to find which you like best. No matter what your culinary tastes are, you will always find something that can benefit form the addition of sweet or hot peppers.

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