Cultivation and Uses of Peppers

Cultivation of Peppers

Growing peppers is not difficult but it takes some time. You must sow the seed as early as possible. As we previously have written you should start as early as in January/February, but at the very latest at the end of March.

Grow chili peppers at home

This is because the pepper plants take time to develop. Chili is suitable to grow in pots on the windowsill, in the greenhouse, on a balcony, and some varieties can also be grown in the ground. There are so many varieties both in appearance and taste.

What Chili Pepper Should I Grow?

There is a general rule which reads: The smaller, narrower and more pointed, the stronger. The larger, the milder. There are of course exceptions to this rule but it is still something to go on. The strength of the chili is measured in Scoville heat units (SHU).

Chili Species

There are about 30 species of chilies, but these five are the most cultivated; Capsicum Annum, Capsicum Chinense, Capsicum Pubescens, Capsicum Baccatum and Capsicum Frutescens. The different varieties will fit different cultivation practices best. For instance, if you are growing on the windowsill you may not want a pepper that grows really tall.

That is, choose a variety that fits how you are planning to grow your peppers!

See our two earlier posts for some inspiration:

How to Grow Peppers

Cultivating peppers is very easy and this is how I usually do it. If you are interested in a more indepth guide on growing peppers go to the Chili Life blog and have a read!

Germinate Chili Seeds

Chili pepper plants take a bit of time to develop so it comes to start so in time. Already in January-February is a good time to start but it can be start your pepper seeds until the end of March.

However, you can start your chili seeds as early as in December.

Here’s what to do: Put the seeds about one half cm deep in small pots with watered seed compost. Set the seed at room temperature of about 20-25 degrees with a bit of plastic (with tiny holes in) or a plastic cover over.

See how to germinate chili seeds for more information on germinating chili seeds.

Keep the soil moist but not wet. It takes about 2 weeks before the first leaves appear. During February and March, it may take a few hours of extra fluorescent light because the seedlings will need 14 hours of light per day, but I have tested without and it has worked well. A bright window is needed, however.

Transplanting the Pepper Plants

When the plants start to get a little crowded, they shall be planted in the larger pots. Use 1 gallon (3.78 liters) containers and plant them in the ordinary soil.

The plants now thrive best in temperatures a little below room temperature, about 16-20 degrees will be best. This is not always easy to arrange. I have tried to have plants in the same window all the time and it may not have been the absolute best solution but it has worked good enough.

Try to water only when the soil is dried up, use lukewarm water and begin to fertilize after about 3 weeks. The easiest way is to grow in pots all summer. Gradually change to larger pots until you have your chili pepper plants in a pot that is 2.6 – 3.1 (10-12 liters).

You may wonder what the best container size for peppers is? Well, as written above, you should end up with a quite large and see this video why size matters:

Fertilizing Peppers

A good fertilizer to give your chili peppers is chicken manure approximately 0.2 cups (0.5 dl), which you add in the soil when you have transplanted your chilies to the main pot. This is the right time to add nutrients! If you grow indoors, bat guano is very good. While chicken manure can smell BAD, bat guano is hardly smelling anything.

Bat Guano Food for Peppers

Bat Guano is a great chili fertilizer (CC-BY-SA-2.0, photo by Joe Decruyenaere)

Chili is also possible to grow in the ground. Chilies thrive in humus-rich soil, preferably add some bat guano or chicken manure in the in your soil mix. Chilies is vulnerable to getting cold roots, be sure to use lukewarm water. Both strong sun and cold can do to the flowers fall off. Also make sure that you don’t over-water your plants. Read more about watering pepper plants as it is important to know how and when to water your chilies.

See this bat guano experiment:

It is possible to overwinter chili peppers in a cool room with supplemental lighting. I have never tried this but if you have good rooms for the winter so it is worth a try. The plants will become larger and give a better harvest the next season.

Uses of Chili Peppers

Drying chili peppers: I usually wipe the chili by hanging a few pieces in a bundle, in the stems. It takes one week, so they are completely dry and can crumble and be used as a seasoning in food. You can also add chili peppers cells on paper towels, for instance, and spin them half a turn each day, so it will dry nicely.

Pickled peppers

Chili is useful to use in many different pickle recipes and oils. As we have already noted, there is a wide range of chilies, the SHU and the appearance varies. Many varieties are super good to make the inlays on the.

Medicinal use of chili peppers:

Chili peppers contain a lot of vitamin C. Capscaicin stimulates blood circulation and digestion. Eating chili peppers enhance the immune system and beneficial for the cardiovascular and vascular system. Furthermore, it’s antiseptic and topical pain relief for rheumatic complaints

If you feel that cold is coming you can boil some water up. Pour the water over a half a teaspoon of chopped chili. Let your chili tea stand for a couple of minutes. Remember, this should be drunk warm, however. That is, don’t let your tea get cold!

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