- 1 Pepper Plant
- 2 Planting Peppers
- 3 Growing Peppers
- 4 Usage of peppers
- 5 Interesting facts
Pepper (lat. Capsicum) is a vegetable crop from the nightshade family (Solanaceae) that includes other plants such as tomato, tobacco, potato, and eggplant.
Pepper has been cultivated for thousands of years in tropical regions of America and was introduced to Europe through Spanish traders in the 15th century, primarily for use as a spice. Hungary is a renowned cultivator and processor of peppers, particularly for their famous red peppers.
Pepper plants grow to a height of approximately 24 in (60 cm) with alternating leaves arranged on a tall stem that possesses an egg-shaped and sharp-tipped form. The roots are poorly developed and only shallowly rooted in soil. Flowers, which are white in color, are located at the end of the stem opposite to each other.
The fruit of the pepper plant is a multi-seeded berry with a smooth texture. They come in various sizes, shapes, and colors, ranging from pale yellow, light and dark green, orange, red, and even brown. The seed cavity of the pepper is located at the top and contains most of the flat seeds, while the rest are located between the partitions that divide the pepper.
Peppers are classified into sweet and hot varieties and contain the alkaloid capsaicin, responsible for their spicy taste, except for bell peppers which do not contain any capsaicin.
Pepper cultivation is most commonly done in greenhouses or outdoors, and requires adequate conditions such as light, moisture, and temperature to achieve the best results. By using healthy seeds and proper care, juicy and flavorful fruits can be grown. Pepper requires a lot of heat as it stops growing at temperatures between 59°F (15°C) and 97°F (36°C). It also requires a lot of water due to weak root uptake. It is also important to maintain soil neutrality.
Planting peppers requires certain conditions, such as adequate light, temperature, moisture, and nutrients to ensure their successful growth and fertility. They are planted directly into the soil in the garden or greenhouse, and it is important to carefully plan the planting to ensure that the plants receive adequate support and protection from pests and diseases.
The ideal soil for pepper cultivation is fertile, well-drained, and slightly acidic soil with a pH value of 6.0 - 6.8, to ensure sufficient nutrients for the optimal growth and development of pepper plants. Growing peppers in soil that is too acidic or salty can cause problems with the growth and decay of the plant. Therefore, it is recommended to conduct a soil analysis before starting cultivation and to add or balance certain substances if necessary to achieve optimal pH balance.
In addition, adequate moisture must be ensured in the soil to prevent drying out. Pepper cultivation soil must be well-maintained to ensure its fertility and ability to effectively supply plants with nutrients. Growing peppers in greenhouse conditions allow control over the soil and climatic conditions, which can help in achieving the best results in cultivation.
Best time to plant
The best planting time for peppers depends on the region in which it is grown and is typically done when the average daily air temperatures rise above 59°F (15°C), but also when the risk of late spring frosts has passed. At lower temperatures, the root doesn’t grow and rooting is hindered, thus normal growth and development are disabled. Pepper seed germinates at a temperature of 55.5°F (13°C).
Pepper mites are among the most common pests that attack peppers, and in addition, they also transmit several viruses to the fruits. It has been proven that planting peppers with members of the onion family, including leeks, shallots, wild onions, chives, onions, or garlic, deter these small insects from settling on peppers to feed.
In addition to pepper mites, peppers are also attacked by thrips, and to protect pepper crops (and tomatoes), it is useful to plant basil which, with its volatile chemicals that it releases, masks the odors of other plants and makes it difficult for thrips to find their host.
In addition to feeding on leafhoppers, whiteflies and other pepper pests, carrot, dill, parsley, basil, thyme, rosemary, motherwort, fennel and coriander planted between and around pepper plants will also attract beneficial insects that feed on pests naturally, resulting in healthy biological control. Sunflowers also play a beneficial role in providing nectar and pollen for beneficial insects, while lavender and sage act as an antimicrobial that reduces fungal and bacterial diseases.
A simple crop of bok choy or radish that is used as "bait" is all that is needed to reduce damage from aphids on pepper plants to a minimum. Aphids much prefer bok choy and radish to peppers (as well as eggplants and tomatoes).
White clover, pumpkins, and cucumbers will serve as a living mulch, while legumes such as beans, soybeans, peas, lentils, and chickpeas convert nitrogen from the air into a form that promotes better growth of peppers.
Plants that are not recommended to be planted with peppers include members of the cabbage family, such as broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, and brussels sprouts. They require the same planting and growing conditions, therefore they will compete for nutrients. Eggplant, tomatoes, potatoes, and other solanaceous plants share the same bacterial and fungal diseases, so it is recommended to either plant them carefully or avoid planting them together completely.
The dormancy phase of peppers is a critical phase in the development of peppers, during which the plant stops growing and prepares for the next flowering and fruiting season. This phase usually comes during a period when daylight is shorter and temperatures are lower.
During the dormancy phase, the plant slows down photosynthesis and nutrient absorption from the soil. However, the roots and parts of the plant below the ground continue to grow and prepare for the next season.
It is important to properly care for the plant during this period to ensure its successful preparation for the next season, which includes watering, feeding, and protection from pests and diseases.
Pepper seeds are planted in March in small containers of your choice (pots, styrofoam, cardboard. By the end of May, after the danger of late spring frosts has passed, they are transplanted into the garden. They love heath and moist soil, so they need to be watered regularly. Hardening of seedlings is mandatory 10 to 15 days before planting, by a well-known method (reduced watering and increased ventilation and exposure of seedlings).
Planting pepper seedlings in the open is the most common way of growing them in home gardens. Seedlings are obtained from seeds and then transplanted directly into the garden. The soil ready for planting must be saturated with water to 80% of its field water capacity at a depth of 6 to 8 in (15 to 20 cm). It can be planted on raised beds or on a flat surface. The inter-row spacing should be 20 to 24 in (50 to 60 cm), and within the rows, around 16 in (40 cm).
In continental areas, peppers are grown from seedlings. 7 to 8 transplants are needed per 11 square feet (1 m2). Planting in the open begins when the soil is warm enough (55.5°F (13°C) is the temperature at which peppers germinate), when the danger of late frosts has passed, and when two permanent leaves have developed on the plants. Seedlings are planted to the depth of the first true leaves and are watered immediately after planting.
Growing in garden
When growing peppers in the garden, it is important to water the seedlings when transplanting. A slight drying out of the plants during the hottest hours is not dangerous and does not mean that water is needed, so there’s no need to rush with the next watering. However, there are soils that dry out quickly and in such conditions, it is necessary to water the plants several days after the first watering.
Root formation takes 2 weeks and depends on the weather conditions. Before the second watering, the pepper is hilled up. Initially, watering is less frequent and moderate, and the soil is loosened after each watering, which maintains a favorable moisture regime. There is no need for too frequent watering before the plant starts to ripen. When the harvest begins, watering is needed more frequently. It can be watered from above (artificial rain) or by furrow irrigation.
Growing in greenhouse
Growing peppers in the greenhouse is carried out in the same way as outdoor cultivation. The soil in greenhouses must be disinfected every year. The seedlings are sown in October and November, and planting begins in January or February. The seedlings are sown at an inter-row spacing of 12 - 16 in (30 - 40 cm) and 12 - 14 in (30 - 35 cm) in rows in previously made indentations. The nighttime temperature should be 63°F (17°C), while the daytime temperature should be 72°F (22°C). Immediately after planting, temperature control should begin. It is not necessary to be excessive with watering as usually the first watering after transplanting is done after 10 - 12 days.
Growing in containers
Growing peppers in containers or pots is characteristic of balcony cultivation. The containers in which peppers are planted can be made of clay, wood, plastic, or any other material. The optimal depth of the container is 28 - 40 inches (70 - 100 cm). A drainage layer, which can be any transparent material (such as stones or clay chips), is placed on the bottom, followed by garden soil. The seedling should be supported by a stake and gently tied with cloth.
The maintenance of a pepper plantation is not complicated and significantly differs depending on the season and the age of the plant. When the pepper plants are a week or two old, they are fragile. Overhead watering can damage the plant stems. Instead, they need to be watered from below at the base of the plant. For mature plants, mulching with straw or mowed grass is useful for several reasons; it prevents the soil from drying out too quickly in the hot sun, and acts as a barrier, reducing the likelihood of pathogens from the soil coming into contact with the plants.
Most pepper varieties can withstand hot weather, but they have limitations. During the period when heat waves are expected, the plants need to be provided with afternoon shade, which is simple with plants grown in the garden. However, the greenhouse pepper requires adequate ventilation and shading. Fertilization should be done every 2 weeks during the vegetative period, using organic or mineral fertilizers. Pests and diseases should be prevented by timely treatment with appropriate chemicals or biological preparations.
Although peppers are self-pollinating, they can always benefit from the help of local insects, so plants that attract beneficial insects for pollination can be planted near peppers.
Peppers germinate slowly, however, weeds germinate faster than peppers, which is an advantage as weeds that have sprouted before the peppers can be controlled. Weeds occupy the living space of plants, lead to soil drying out, make cultivation difficult, and serve as a breeding ground for various pests and diseases. Regular cultivation destroys weeds. To control weeds, herbicides based on the active ingredient trifluralin (before planting), pendimethalin (before transplanting), napropamide (before planting peppers), and clomazone (in pepper seedlings, before transplanting) are used.
Maintenance and care of peppers depend on the growing method (with or without plastic foil). If grown with plastic foil, there is no need for cultivation. In the case of growing without plastic foil, cultivation is necessary 2 - 3 times after watering.
The watering of peppers is done by pouring a larger amount of water between the rows. Water is poured near the root or as far from the root as possible, and never on the leaves. Attention should also be paid to the temperature of the water, if it is very cold, it will shock the plant, causing it to lose its flower or produce poor fruit. For this reason, it is best to use rainwater or stagnant water. The most common method of irrigation used is the "drop by drop" system at any time of day. The soil moisture should be maintained at 70 - 80%.
When it comes to fertilization, peppers require soil with a neutral pH, which needs to be limed if the pH is below 5.5. This can also be controlled by fertilizing with calcium. Peppers react very well to compost or semi-mature livestock manure, especially in combination with mineral fertilizers. Livestock manure improves microbial activities and helps maintain soil structure and looseness. Fertilization should be performed 2 - 3 times. The first time after the peppers have rooted and the second when the first fruits are the size of a nut. (European units still in parentheses).
Peppers can be propagated in several ways, including seed, cuttings, or division of the rhizome. Seed sowing is the most common way to propagate peppers where the seed is sown in shallow pots and when seedlings grow large enough, they are transplanted into the soil or larger pots. Propagation by cuttings, although rare, is used for growing new plants from existing ones. The tops of healthy plants are cut, placed in water or soil, and watered until they begin to grow roots. Division of the rhizome is also a rare method of propagation, but it is not impossible. It is used to grow new plants from the rhizome and is most commonly used for peppers that grow as perennials. The rhizome is divided into several parts and each part is transplanted into the new soil.
Each of these methods has its own advantages and disadvantages, and the choice of the best method depends on the specific goals of the grower and the environment in which the plants are grown. It is important to adhere to proper care and maintenance for the plants to ensure their healthy growth and fertility.
Peppers are grown from seed, and when the seedlings are large enough, they are transplanted into soil. To get good seedlings, the seed is sown in shallow pots with good soil and quality fertilizer. The pots are kept in a warm and bright place but without direct sunlight to ensure that seedlings grow evenly. When the seedlings are large enough and have 2 or 3 pairs of leaves, they are transplanted into larger pots or directly into the soil.
The optimal temperature for transplanting peppers must be a constant 68 - 86°F (20 - 30°C). Peppers are sensitive to low temperatures, and if the temperature drops below 59°F (15°C), the growth of the seedlings may slow down or even stop. The soil into which peppers are transplanted should be well-drained, rich in nutrients, and slightly acidic.
Peppers are photophilic plants and require enough sunlight to grow and produce fruit. If the seedlings are not transplanted into a location with sufficient sunlight, they will become weak and may not produce fruit.
Although not necessary, rejuvenating pepper plants is sometimes necessary to ensure their proper growth and fertility. Rejuvenation is the process of removing old or unproductive branches from the pepper stem and promoting new growth.
If all the necessary growing conditions are not met, peppers can lose their strength and productivity, resulting in a decrease in both the quality and quantity of their fruit. Rejuvenation is the process of removing the old and unproductive parts of the plant and promoting new growth.
Pepper rejuvenation is usually done by removing all the branches and stems that are less productive, old, and dry. By removing them, the plant can receive the necessary energy and nutrients to support new growth.
Thinning of peppers is usually performed when the seedlings have grown to several centimeters and start to touch each other. The aim of thinning is to ensure that each plant has enough space to grow and develop and to reduce competition for nutrients, water, and sunlight. If they are not thinned, the plants will compete with each other for resources, affecting their growth, health, and fruit quality.
Thinning is usually done by removing the weaker and smaller seedlings and leaving the strongest and best seedlings to grow. It is recommended to leave each plant at least 30 cm apart from the other to ensure sufficient space for quality growth.
Pruning of peppers is not characteristic, but for the cultivation of lush varieties, the best cultivation is on two branches where pruning is performed every two weeks. The excess branches are removed when they reach a height of 0.6 - 0.8 in (1.5 - 2 cm). It is also important to control the plant's load of fruit. There should be an even distribution of 5 - 6 fruit or 10 - 12 fruit per plant on the branch. It is also important to remove the lower yellow leaves and sick fruit.
Peppers are sensitive to wind and protection ensures their growth and fertility. Wind can damage leaves and shoots and break stems, affecting the quality of fruit and the speed of plant growth and survival. Furthermore, wind can dry out the soil and dehydrate the plants.
There are several ways to protect against wind, and one of the simplest ways is to set up a barrier in the form of a fence or by planting next to a wall or fence. A wind protection mesh can also be used to protect the plants while allowing them to receive sunlight and air.
Preparation for the next season
If peppers are grown as an annual crop, the soil needs to be prepared for the next year and new planting during the winter. After the harvest, all remaining parts of the plant are removed to clear the soil of any remnants that could cause rot and diseases. Then, compost or fertilizer is added to improve soil quality. To ensure good aeration and drainage, the soil must be plowed to eliminate weeds and prepare the soil for planting.
Pest control is also carried out to make sure that the soil is not infected with diseases or pests. If necessary, nutrients and soil acidity are added to ensure that the plant receives the necessary food and support. After preparing the soil, the area where the peppers will be planted is covered with a layer of leaves or mulching to protect against frost and wind.
Usage of peppers
Peppers have a versatile use. They have a high nutritional value and are rich in certain supplements. In addition to being used in cuisine for their beautiful colors, aroma, and taste, they are desirable to use for the purpose of preserving health.
Pepper harvesting is done by hand, using scissors is best. Care should be taken during harvesting as the branches are easily breakable, and the fruits can be harvested 50 days after planting. The optimal time to harvest peppers is after flowering, during sunny days. It is important to avoid harvesting immediately after rain, as wet fruits quickly rot and mold.
Pepper drying is usually done for the production of spice (ground pepper). The pepper is ready for harvesting and drying when it takes its characteristic color. It must be mature but not overripe. If the pepper is unripe, it will rot during the drying process. After harvesting, the pepper should be left in a basket for several days to settle. The pepper for drying is not washed but only wiped with a cloth if necessary.
Peppers can be dried in several ways. The simplest is to spread it on a cloth and leave it to dry in the shade, in an open, well-ventilated place. After drying, it is stored in dry glass jars or paper bags and kept in a dark and cool place. It can also be dried in a dehydrator or aesthetically strung on a string.
Pepper storage depends on the fruits being stored. Fresh peppers can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 5 days, in a basement, or somewhere dark and cool. They can also be stored by freezing, pickling, or preserving in oil. Such places slow down the evaporation of water, wilting, and the development of rot caused by decay. Fruits with stems also last longer.
Peppers can be eaten fresh, but also thermally processed - cooked, roasted, or pickled. In many countries, peppers are used in cuisine as an addition to salads, stews, sauces, roasted dishes, and other tasty preparations. They can be stuffed in various ways, and they can be eaten raw. An essential spice in every kitchen is surely ground dried pepper.
Pepper is rich in the carotenoid zeaxanthin, which is important for eye health, and vitamin A, which serves to prevent night blindness. It relieves insomnia, PMS, and stress. Regular consumption of pepper boosts the immune system, promotes collagen production, lifts mood, promotes hair growth, and speeds up metabolism. Pepper is used as a digestive stimulant for the treatment of cramps, diarrhea, and toothache. It cleans the lungs and sinuses, protects the stomach, and encourages the brain to release endorphins.
Pepper contains as much as 300% of the daily requirement of Vitamin C which is important for the production of collagen, which is necessary for the body to maintain the integrity of blood vessels, skin, bones, and organs.
Columbus encountered dry, hot peppers and brought them to Europe, where because of the bitter taste, they thought this plant must be some kind of pepper. Since then, to this day, pepper has kept its name after pepper. Similarly, pepper is one of the most common words from our area that is used in the English language.
The top is the mildest, and as we approach the stem, the pepper becomes increasingly and increasingly spicy. This is because in that part there is the most capsaicin, which gives the pepper that burning feeling. Capsaicin is most present in the thin, fleshy parts that connect the pepper body with the seeds.
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