Did you know that bell peppers have 2-6 times the vitamin C content of an orange? Peppers (especailly organic peppers) can be pricey - $1 or more a piece. Luckily they are easy to grow and great way to save you money on your grocery bill.
Important: Know when the right time to plant is! Don't plant your peppers until all danger of frost has passed. Where I live, that's about mother's day weekend. Use this tool to check when your average last frost date is.
- Pepper plants (choose healthy looking plants but avoid those that already have peppers)
- Shovel or trowel
- Epsom Salt (do NOT use table salt. it will kill your plant)
- Measuring spoon
Step 1: Pick the right spot
In addition to making sure you have the right timing for planting, make sure you pick the right spot to put peppers. Peppers like as much sun as possible. (Super new to gardening? Be sure to read these tips and more in Gardening 101: 10 Things Beginning Gardeners Need to Know)
Step 2: Dig a hole
Dig a hole that is large enough to accommodate the pot your pepper plant is in and then make it 1/2 - 1 inch deeper.
Step 3: Add epsom salt
Sprinkle 1 teaspoon of epsom salt to the bottom of the hole. Unlike table salt, epsom salt's primary ingredient is magnesium. Magnesium strengthens plant cell walls and improves their ability to take in nutrients. It also helps prevent blossom end rot - a plant disorder that causes large, inedible black spots on mature fruit.
Step 4: Squish it
Squish the sides of the pots to loosen the soil and gently pull up on the plant by the base of the stem to remove it from the pot. If the plant has been in the pot for a long time, you'll see white roots wrapping around the edges. If you have root-wrap issues, squish the root ball a bit to loosen them. If they are very tight, use a knife or shears to cut off the very bottom of the root ball before planting
Step 5: Plant it!
Place your plant in the hole you prepared. Use your fingers to pinch off the bottom set of leaves. Be especially sure to remove anything that will be below the ground or will be touching the ground once the plant is in the hole. Slide the dirt back in.
Continue following steps 1-5 for each pepper plant, giving plants 12 or more inches between plants (I also like to stagger them down the bed)
Step 7: Water
Make sure you water your plants once you're done planting them. If you are watering mid-day, ESPECIALLY if it is sunny, it's important to not drench the leaves or they will get sunburnt and unhappy. Use a watering can or a hose wand that distributes a soft stream of water and water at the base of the plant. Allow the well to fill but then move on before soil starts running or washing away. It's better to visit a plant 2-3 times to give it adequate water than it is to hold the hose on it too long the first time.
That's it! Remember to continue watering your pepper plants once the top inch of soil dries out. How long this takes will very by climate but in the Portland area, that's once every 2-3 days in spring and early summer.
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