Bell pepper is an excellent easy to grow summer vegetable. Did you know that it’s the same plant as chili? They’re just different varieties!
Chili and bell pepper facts
Name – Capsicum anuum
Family – Solanaceae or nightshade
Type – vegetable, annual
Height – 20 to 32 inches (50 to 80 cm)
Exposure – full sun
Soil – rather light, rich and well drained
Harvest – 5 to 6 months after sowing.
Even though tropical and warm climates suit it best, it can still be found further north as long as a few precautions are taken to grow it.
Care from seed to harvest means accomplishing small tasks that will help you grow great green, red or yellow bell peppers.
Sowing, planting of bell pepper and chili
To sow from seed
- Prepare seedlings in nursery pots indoors or in a heated greenhouse, minimum 65 to 68°F (18 to 20°C), as early as January for areas with the mildest climate and up to March everywhere else.
- As soon as they have sprouted, while they still have their very first one or two leaves, only keep one sprout per nursery pot.
- Transfer to the ground with a cold frame towards April if the weather is suitable, or wait until the end of May.
- You can remove any protections or plant directly to the vegetable patch as soon as temperatures exceed 68°F (20°C) during the daytime.
- Space plants 20 to 24 inches (50 to 60 cm) apart, on all sides.
Bell pepper, chili purchased in containers and ready to plant
You must also wait for temperatures to exceed 68°F (20°C) during the daytime before you can plant them outdoors.
This can mean May in the South but it can translate to June in the North.
- Place plants at least 24 to 32 inches (50 to 60 cm) apart.
- Fertilize the ground with good compost or natural fertilizer.
- Water regularly.
Caring for bell pepper and chili
Ideally, you can use fermented stinging nettle tea since it is a natural option, but there are a great many organic fertilizers designed for use with bell pepper and chili.
- Protect them as long as you can from the cold and wind, with a garden cloche for example, because spring is when they are the most vulnerable.
- To have nice fruits, only keep up to fifteen per plant, they’ll be bigger that way, too.
- Water regularly but not too much to sustain soil moisture.
Harvesting bell pepper and chili
Harvest: about 5 to 6 months after sowing.
Wait for the bell pepper or chili to have reached full maturity, ie, they have stopped growing any larger.
That is when you can harvest them green or wait for them to take on a yellow, orange or red color which will guarantee tastier fruits.
Keeping chili varieties:
- Harvest the chili when fully mature
- bundle them in bunches
- dry them in the sun.
Store in a dry place, in the dark.
Learn more about bell pepper
Native to the tropical Americas, bell pepper or chili are typical summer fruits which are savored both raw and cooked, in a ratatouille for instance.
The only difference between bell pepper and chili is that they come from different varieties. The first is rather mild, whereas the second is hot and spicy.
But as plants, both are grown in exactly the same manner.
Smart tip about bell pepper and chili
Avoid getting the leaves wet when watering, this simple practice is the best possible protection against powdery mildew.