As preppers we need to constantly develop new skills and hone old ones, gardening is one skill that can often be overlooked. This post is going to be providing you with some useful tips for growing amazing peppers. If you haven't already I encourage you to check out the rest of our gardening articles to further hone your skill. There are a few reasons why I like growing peppers; they're great in a numerous amount of dishes for one, they also have some pretty amazing medicinal benefits too and they're just fun to grow. There are a lot of varieties of peppers to grow which keeps pepper gardening interesting and if you are a true green thumb you can even develop your own strain of pepper plants through crossbreeding.
A Little Background on Growing Peppers
In Peru we can see from prehistoric remains that peppers were being farmed in Central as well as South America quite a long time ago. Peppers became popular in Europe when Columbus brought them back to Spain where they were said to be hotter than the table pepper we use today. Our table pepper is however different than the peppers we use in salsas and for stuffed peppers, table pepper comes from the plant Piper Nigrum which we take the seeds and grind up on our dishes. The peppers we use come from the Capsicum family and today have a wide variety of heat levels. To determine how hot a pepper is we use something called the Scoville Scale which was created by Wilbur Scoville. Basically the scale gives a number called Scoville Heat Units or SHU to a pepper based on the concentration of capsinoids inside the pepper. The test results can vary quite a bit depending upon several results such as cultivation of the peppers and the testing itself. To test a pepper a determined amount of dried pepper is dissolved in alcohol which will extract the capsinoids. Then it is diluted in a solution of sugar water. The concentration is then given to a panel of five trained testers (I would not want to be one of these guys) and the concentration is decreased until at least three of the tasters no longer detects the capsinoids. Now as I stated earlier peppers vary widely in heat or SHU's, according to Pepper Heads for Life a Bell Pepper is at the bottom of the scale at 0 SHU's. Your typical Jalapeno comes in at about 10,000 SHU's now we're getting somewhere right? Nope, say what you want but this is pretty much where I draw the line, I've had some pretty hot Jalapenos and this is pretty much my happy zone for peppers. We begin to hit the "HOLY SHIT!" side of the scale when we get to peppers like the Habanero and the Scotch Bonnet which have around 350,000 SHU's. When you just want to punish yourself I recommend trying a Carolina Reaper which kicks your ass at 2,200,000 SHU's compare that to common pepper spray that has about 2,000,000 SHU's.
Tip #1 for Growing Amazing Pepper Plants
Start your peppers indoors. Planting not only peppers but many vegetables indoors greatly increases their chances of survival, this is especially true if you live in a cooler growing zone. Starting your peppers indoors gives them a chance to establish their roots and grow before they're exposed to the elements. If you plan ahead which is hard to do at times I know, but if you do your pepper plants can be ready to go when the warm weather starts up. There are a lot of seed starting kits available I suggest you pick one up with a heat mat and you'll have pepper seeds sprouting up in no time.
Tip #2 for Growing Amazing Peppers Plants
Know where you're planting. Peppers do good in both in container gardens as well as backyard gardens, but both require a nutrient rich soil. So if you're planting your peppers in a container it might be a good idea to get some fertilizer like a 10-10-10 to start them out. After the peppers begin to blossom you should get use a little 21-0-0 as a side dressing, apply this sparingly about 6 inches from the base of the plant. You might not need the starter fertilizer if you have some nutrient rich soil to begin with but after your peppers eat that up the nutrients in the soil will begin to run out. Also if you're planting peppers in containers keep in mind that pepper plants require a good amount of space for root development, I like to use a five gallon bucket to plant mine in.
Tip #3 for Growing Amazing Pepper Plants
Look after your pepper plants. Care for your pepper plants by watering, and nourishing as needed. Another thing to keep in mind though is to look for pests. Some common pests to pepper plants include aphids, tomato horn worms, and blister beetles. I've personally had problems with aphids in the past and they can be devastating to a pepper plant. They basically suck the life right out of the pepper plant the only thing that I found to be effective was a large amount of diy insecticidal soap. For both the horned worms and blister beetles you should pick or flick them off into soapy water. Be careful not to smash the blister beetles on your skin as they will leave blisters. Our friends over at NY City Pest Control have a great article on keeping pests out of your garden that you should check out.
Medicinal Benefits of Growing Pepper Plants
There are many medicinal uses for peppers, eating them can help to fight a number of ailments. The main component in peppers that contributes to the medicinal effects is capsaicin, eating peppers can help boost the immune system from both vitamins A and B which will help fight colds. Since peppers have a good amount of vitamins A and B this makes them good for fighting off scurvy and vitamin A deficiency. Not only that but a rub can be made from the peppers and used to treat inflammation caused by arthritis. There are many other medicinal uses of peppers these are just a few but they are no doubt a great plant to have in your container, backyard or herb garden.
Hopefully these tips will help you grow some amazing peppers and build a good skill while doing it. Thanks for reading and remember to check out the shop, and get your free bug out bag starter guide. If you have any questions feel free to leave them in the comment section below or email us. Don't forget to check back soon for more articles coming weekly to the blog.
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