Bell Peppers · Vegetables

Growing bell peppers: Green, Red and Yellow

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Public domain image from Pixabay

Among my initial wish list of plants to grow, bell peppers were definitely high on the list. Don’t they look yummy?

I decided to start with the most common green, red and yellow, and continue on with the more exotic ones after I get more experienced. Here are the main points to get started:

  1. Sunlight: Lots of it, minimum six hours daily
  2. Container size: at least 20cm deep, one plant per container
  3. Soil: Well-draining soil, slightly acidic to neutral (pH 6 – 7)
  4. Watering: Water regularly, avoid soil from drying out
  5. Temperature: 18 – 30 ° C (64 – 86F), with 20 – 26  °C (68 – 79F) being the most ideal
  6. Potential Pests: Aphids and spider mites (I’m planning to spray them with organic insecticidal soap + diatomaceous earth mix every 10 days or so)
  7. Fertilizing: Nitrogen heavy in the beginning, Phosphorous heavy when flowering, Potassium & Magnesium heavy when fruiting

I’ve had these seeds refrigerated for around a week before planting, from left to right, red, yellow, and green bell peppers. The green bell pepper seed was imported from Netherlands and hence was treated. I’m guessing that’s why it is red…

First step, soak seeds in water for 3 hours. 

Mar 17 PM-4

Secondly, plant them in pre-moistened soil ideal for germinating seeds.

I fashioned some seed-starters using recycled plastic water bottles/cups with drainage holes cut at the bottom, and used a peat + perlite soil mix.

Mar 17 PM-2.jpg

Next, keep soil damp (don’t let it dry out) and be patient. I read of many farmers placing seed-starters indoors, but with my balcony being semi-indoors, I left them out but in a relatively shaded and protected spot.

Just so I wouldn’t accidentally wash up or hurt the seed(ling), I watered them from the bottom, placing a cup of water underneath and letting it soak up the water via the drainage holes.

I was prepared for a long wait – another test of patience – since instructions from my seed source said that it could take up to a month. I did find myself staring at the soil a couple times, wondering if anything was happening underground…

Just 9 days later, Ms. Red Pepper was sprouting!

Mar 26-01.jpg

Mr. Green Pepper was a close second. Ms. Yellow Pepper remained dormant…

Mar 27-34.jpg

Once sprouted, move seedlings to sunny spot and keep soil damp (I continued to water from the bottom). I tried giving them as much sun as possible, but on super hot days, I’d move them to slightly shaded spots.

Seedlings 12 days after sowing
Mar 29-13.jpg

Two weeks or so after sowing, leaves of the seedlings were almost spanning the entire width of the cut-off-bottle-pot. Hence, I trimmed the top part of the cut-off-bottle-pot (making it shorter), so that the leaves would have ample space to stretch and grow,

Seedlings 20 days after sowing 
Apr 6-14.jpg

Today: seedlings 26 days after sowing (The white spots on leaves are residue of the insecticidal soap + diatomaceous earth mix spray)
Apr 12-15.jpg

On day 26, with 2 larger + 2 smaller true leaves visible, I decided it was time to transplant the seedlings into big pots, their permanent homes.

Along the process, I discovered the advantage of using plastic bottles as seed-starters: I could cut out the edges (plastic) and easily transfer the seedling into the bigger pot.

Me holding Ms. Red Pepper
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Recap on pertinent details:

  1. Sunlight: Lots of it, minimum six hours daily
  2. Container size: at least 20cm deep, one plant per pot
  3. Soil: Well-draining soil, slightly acidic to neutral (pH 6 – 7)
  4. Watering: Water regularly, avoid soil from drying out
  5. Fertilizing: Nitrogen heavy in the beginning, Phosphorous heavy when flowering, Potassium & Magnesium heavy when fruiting

I’m using a 12″ pot (depth 23.5cm), a peat-based potting soil mix with added vermiculite and a little oyster shell powder, and pre-soaked larger-sized wood chips at the bottom of the pot (this pot had quite large drainage holes and the wood chips helped to prevent soil from seeping out).

Accidentally went too vermiculite-heavy with Mr. Green Pepper
Apr 13 PM-5.jpg

Ms. Red Pepper in her spacious new home
Apr 13 PM-6.jpg

Next up, will figure out how to provide stem support to the plant when it gets bigger, mulching, pinching, deadheading and all that fun stuff.

Favorite how-to guide on growing bell peppers:

In English: Growing Bell Peppers in Pots

In Mandarin: 破解-種植青椒和彩色甜椒

Side note

By the way, Ms. Yellow Pepper finally sprouted, weeks after Green and Red. Will repeat the process with Yellow. Better late than never!

Apr 12-16.jpg

The Vege Girl Project: Day 40

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