Peppers have always brought a delectable punch of flavor and sensation in our dishes, and they are super easy to grow. There are about a bunch of different types of peppers available in the market nowadays. They have become a staple in our kitchens, at home, or in restaurants. And growing them can actually be a fulfilling and easy experience as cooking and eating them. Since pepper production, whether for commercial use or simply for home use, is just a walk in the park even for newbies out there.
Here are easy steps that you can follow from planting to maintaining when growing peppers from seeds.
The 6-Step Process on How To Grow Peppers
Peppers specifically thrive and grow best on warm environmental conditions. They are quite sun-loving plants so it’s best to find an area where they can get as much sunlight as they can. Avoid areas with trees that have large canopies. Just make sure that they receive at least 6 hours of full sunlight every day. The optimal altitude growth of peppers is around 2000 meters above sea level.
Avoid planting peppers on clayey, sandy, or rocky soil. They grow best in a loamy soil filled with organic matter and with good drainage properties which has a pH of 6.0 to 6.5. If you’re planning to plant them on the ground, plowing 1 to 2 weeks before sowing is recommended. This allows the compact soil to loosen up for aeration and drainage. Plough the ground to a depth of 20 to 30 cm, best during hot weather.
Furthermore, soil temperatures of around 18 to 25 degrees Celsius are most favorable for their growth. This is also the best range for an even fruit color development ensuring good fruit quality when ripe and ready for harvest.
SOWING AND GERMINATION
Peppers can be planted directly on to the ground, or they can also be transplanted. But sowing in seedboxes or nurseries and transplanting them afterwards is the best method to ensure maximum seed germination and quality seedlings. You can do the PAPER TOWEL METHOD as a means of selecting good quality seeds from bad ones. Sow the seeds on a medium fit for germination which has good drainage qualities and is free from soil pathogens. You can use a mixture of 3:2:1 ratio of topsoil, sand, and manure.
Sow them in rows using small furrows. But make sure to space them properly, about 15 cm apart, for ease in transplanting. You don’t want your seedlings to be sticking together, making it difficult to separate the roots afterward. On the other hand, you can sow 2 to 3 seeds in each separate plastic bags as an alternative to a seedbox.
Make raised beds that are 1 meter wide especially for areas with poor drainage capacities once you have thoroughly plowed your field. It takes about 5 days to 1 week before peppers seeds start to germinate. During the 4th and 5th week, hardening must be employed by exposing them longer under sunlight and reducing the frequency of watering to just thrice a week. This process helps the seedlings to avoid getting shocked once transplanted out in the open field, making them more resistant.
Dig 10 cm deep holes on the beds to make it easier for you to plant the seedlings. But you can simply insert the seedlings on raised beds. The spacing between seedlings will depend on the variety that you’ve chosen, as some varieties require larges spaces in order to grow properly. Transplant the seedlings right after the rainy season once they are about 7 to 10 cm tall. Lay a bed of mulch once you’ve transplanted all your seedlings.
Pepper plants have a natural tendency to grow upright. The only disadvantage of this growth habit is that their stems are thin and a bit brittle. When the fruit begins to form and develop, the brittle stem is unable to withstand the additional weight and has the tendency to bend and break. Staking is practiced to provide additional support to the stem.
Gather wooden stakes that are about a few inches longer than the plant itself. Stick each stake beside the crop and tie it together using nylon. Be gentle as you tie the stem and make sure that it’s not too tight. Also, avoid using wires or twines as they may choke or snap the stem once it continues to enlarge.
MAINTENANCE: Irrigation, fertilization, and etc.
Add 30 kg per hectare of nitrogen at the beginning of the flowering stage. Additional nitrogen and magnesium are needed during the vegetative stage of peppers. But once flowering commences, you must add potassium, boron, and phosphorus since peppers would require healthy amounts of these nutrients during this stage. Add fertilizer throughout the development stages when needed. But always check first the amounts of nutrients in the soil before adding any kind of fertilizer.
The amount and frequency of irrigation will vary depending on the climatic condition and weather pattern. Periodic testing of soil moisture is necessary, especially for large farmlands. Daily watering can be done during the hot and humid seasons. Always remember to avoid overwatering as it can cause all of your pepper blossoms to fall off prematurely.
What’s more, you can also try pinching the tip tops of your pepper plants. This technique induces the lateral growth of the buds instead of the usual apical growth. You’ll then get a bushier plant as it will create more branches. And, never forget to weed at least once a week. You don’t want those perky weeds stealing all the nutrition and moisture from your peppers.
Just like any other crops, peppers have specific environmental and care requirements in order to grow healthily and ensure high yield. For example, too much rain or low humidity can cause premature blossom drop. And if the weather is too cool it prevents pepper flowers from developing at all. Moreover, water stress may also cause untimely blossom drop for peppers. And just like any other crop, a number of pests and diseases also plague pepper plants. So you better keep an eye for them when taking care of your crops.
Read more: Know the Common Insect Pests of Peppers
Although its quite easy to grow peppers at the comfort of your own backyard, understanding their needs is still a must in pepper production. Because after all, growing plants is pretty much like having your own kids. They need some tender loving care