Summer Pepper Harvest

I love growing peppers for many reasons:

  1. They are easy to grow from seed to full maturity
  2. They have a decent yield per plant
  3. They don’t take up a lot of space
  4. Most of all they can save you a lot of money compared to buying peppers in the grocery store.

An organic red bell pepper is selling for 2.89 a piece right now at my local grocery store, and that’s while they’re in season! I can buy 1 seed packet for less than $2.00 and that packet will have enough seeds for me to plant peppers for the next few years. I planted 5 pepper plants this year, and in late July-August I’m harvesting about 2-3 peppers a week.

Peppers like warm weather, but I like to give the plants a head start by starting the seeds indoors. I started my seeds this year towards the end of February and planted them outside in May once the nights were warmer.

You can buy fancy seed starters, but really any container with some soil will do. You will want to keep the soil moist until the seeds germinate, and I like to use a spray bottle for this. I keep the seeds in a window sill and I cover the container with plastic wrap to create a little “greenhouse.” This keeps the soil warmer. You just want to make sure there isn’t a draft in the window, because if it’s too cool the seeds won’t germinate as well.

Once the seeds germinate you will need to continue to water them, and eventually you may have to transplant them into larger containers before they’re ready to go outside.

Once you plant them outside, you will probably want to stake them so the stems have some support to hold the heavy peppers. I have plenty of tomato cages, so I just use those.

The trick with peppers is patience. Some people don’t know this, but a pepper plant is similar to a tomato plant in that the fruit starts out green and matures to the red color. A green bell pepper is just an immature red bell pepper, which is why the red and colored peppers tend to cost more- they take longer to produce on the plant. The same thing happens with jalape├▒os as well if you leave them on the plant long enough.

My tomatoes haven’t done very well again this year which has been disappointing, but I have had a really successful pepper crop! After picking these peppers recently, I decided to make stuffed peppers. I love this recipe (linked below) from “My Nourished Home.” I adapted it by using ground beef since that’s what I had on hand. I doubled the recipe to have enough to freeze which will make dinner next week even easier!

I always think of my friend Jess when I make these stuffed peppers. She made them for me one time when I was visiting her, then I made them at home using some of the tomatoes that we had canned together. Jess shares in my loves of gardening, canning and baking, and eventually I’ll have to share about our summer flea market bake stand- but that’s a story for another time ­čÖé