PLANTING
Choose a sunny area of the garden as peppers need full sun to blossom and set fruit. Growth in full sun will result in a more productive plant. Select a spot protected from the wind as pepper plants have shallow, easily disturbed roots and brittle branches. A strong wind may break stems or completely uproot the plants.

The plant will perform best in well drained soil with adequate nutrition for plant growth. To insure adequate nutrition and growth use Lady Bug 8-2-4 and work in Lady Bug Natural Brand Revitalizer, Turkey or Farm Style compost when preparing the garden soil in the spring.

A pepper plant does not take up a lot of garden space, at least when compared to vines like watermelon or pumpkin. Depending on the variety, most pepper plants will measure 2 to 3 feet tall. A half dozen plants should provide a family with a summer long crop of peppers. Gardeners with limited space can even grow peppers in containers.

SOWING SEED
Many gardeners start seeds indoors early, then transplant to their garden, but seeds can be planted directly into prepared garden soil in long season areas. Sow pepper seed outdoors once the soil temperature has warmed to 75°F and nighttime temperature above 55°F. Add Lady Bug Pachamama Worm Castings to the area of planting and place seed 1/4 inch deep, cover with finely textured soil and water gently but thoroughly. Peppers need moist conditions to germinate and are hungry for water during the seedling stage and throughout the growing season.

TRANSPLANTING
The same procedure and care are recommended for planting bedding plants or peppers home grown from seed. Wait until the weather has warmed to a daytime temperature of 65 to 70°F. and nighttime temperature above 55°F. Space plants about 2 feet apart. This distance will vary slightly depending on the variety. Rows should be spaced at least 2 feet apart. This will allow enough air circulation for the plants, permit easy cultivation and harvest. Add 1/4 cup of Lady Bug Pachamama Worm Castings at the time of planting. Also add Lady Bug Flower Power every 4 to 6 weeks for the life of the plant.

GROWING ON
Peppers should grow rapidly given warm day and night temperatures. During this period of rapid growth be sure to provide adequate water and nutrients. Water the soil before plant foliage begins to droop or show signs of wilting. Take care to watch plants and look for any insect problems. Most locations in North America can grow any type of hot or bell pepper without any major problem.

If you notice blossoms dropping off your pepper plant, temperature may be the reason. The pepper is a warm season vegetable. It grows and produces fruit when the soil and air temperatures are warm. The temperature range for fruit set is quite narrow. When nighttime temperatures fall below 60°F or above 75°F, blossoms are likely to drop and fruit will not set. Daytime temperatures above 90 degrees F. will also inhibit fruit set, but fruits will again begin to form when cooler daytime temperatures appear.

INSECT PESTS
Gardeners may find that pests cause occasional problems. Early detection can prevent damage; inspect plants frequently for telltale signs of insect presence. Large insects can often be removed from the plant. Any damaged leaves or stems should be removed and destroyed. Do not allow leaves to collect around base of plants. Insects often make their homes among garden debris, quickly moving on to healthy plants. Remove debris from pruning or weeding once the yard chore is finished. If increasing insect populations appear, contact a garden center or a county Extension agent for information about insecticides to reduce insect populations.

HARVEST
Peppers may be harvested and enjoyed when immature or mature. There is not a “best” time to harvest, let personal taste Preference is the guide. Remember that sweet peppers become sweeter as they mature and hot peppers come hotter.

To harvest, do not pull or tear a pepper from a plant. Peppers have shallow root systems and it doesn’t take too forceful a pull to dislodge the entire plant from the ground. Fruits of many varieties will easily snap off at the stem. With some varieties you will need to use a sharp knife or scissors to cut the fruit stem from the plant. Harvesting regularly will encourage the plant to keep blossoming and setting fruit, especially early in the growing season.

NUTRITION
Peppers are the right food for people seeking a healthy, nutritious diet. Low in calories, high in Vitamins A and C, peppers are also high in a very important mineral–potassium.

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