Bell peppers are easy to grow and their crisp, sweet flavor make it a popular ingredient in many recipes. Seeds and seedlings are available for planting from your local garden shop. Bell peppers can be green, red, orange or yellow. Some call them bell peppers, others call them sweet peppers. They are green when they have not yet matured and turn red or yellow or orange with age. You can eat the peppers at whatever stage of maturity that you choose.
You can start your plants indoors in pots and transplant later when the danger of frost has passed. Peppers like warm weather. It is best, though, to plant your peppers in an area of your garden that is shaded by trees or bushes during the hotter part of the day.
If your decide to plant your seeds directly into the ground, be sure to wait until the night time temperature reaches around fifty degrees Fahrenheit and days are in the sixties to seventies.. Use a good organic fertilizer like compost or dried manure so your plants will have a good supply of nutrients throughout the growing season. Bell peppers need lots of water during the summer and the compost will help hold the water close to the roots.
Add the compost to the soil and turn well to mix thoroughly. Build up rows two feet wide and three feet apart. Plant seeds six inches apart in a trench. Cover with an inch of soil. Seeds sprout in 7-10 days. When plants are three inches tall, thin to allow 18-24 inches between each.
Although they are called “peppers,” the bell pepper is not hot in flavor. This is because they do not produce capsaicin, the chemical that make other peppers taste hot.
Bell peppers are a good source of Vitamin C, Vitamin B6, beta carotene, thiamine and folic acid. They have been proven to prevent blood clots and to reduce the risk of heart attack. Red bell peppers have more nutrients than green as they have a higher level of beta carotene. The bell pepper is low in calories and cholesterol.
Some of the problems that affect bell peppers are leaf spot, stem rot and southern blight. Rotating you crops each year and applying compost will reduce the chances of your plants contracting these diseases. You can also use organic pesticides to combat these diseases. They are available from your local garden store. Some of the insect pests that may threaten your crop are the red spider, the white spider and the white fly. These, too, can be controlled by the application of an organic pesticide from your garden store. Adding a two inch layer of mulch of dried leaves or straw will also prevent attacks by insects and disease and will help retain moisture in the soil.
You can start to harvest your bell peppers when they are still green in color and three to four inches across. The skin will be wrinkled when it is time to start harvesting. Use a sharp knife or pruning shears, cutting the bell pepper off just above the pod. You can also wait until they turn yellow or red before harvesting.
Bell peppers can be used fresh in soups, pizza and salads or cut in half and roasted on the grill. A very popular recipe is stuffed peppers. Hollow out the center core and add ground beef, pork or lamb or all combined. Mix in egg, onions and cooked rice, then stuff the mixture into the bells. Bake in a pre-heated oven at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for forty minutes.
Bell peppers are a delicious and nutritious crop for your garden. They require little care and their green, red and yellow fruit add color to any recipe. Since the are such a hardy plant, they are a good choice for beginning gardeners. Water and feed your crop well and you will have a plentiful harvest.