Mid-season (60 days after transplant) Chinese heirloom variety. Compact, well-branched plant. Orange, slightly elongated peppers, weight 150-300 grams. Thick, strong, crunchy, sweet flesh. You can eat them green, but the best taste is in the last days of ripening when the pepper turns from dark green to bright orange and finally red.
Shaolin Sweet Bell Pepper-15 Seeds
Sow Seeds 0.5-1 cm deep
Space Plants 50-80 cm apart
Start Seeds 26-29 C
Most pepper seeds sprout in about a week at a temperature of 26-29 degrees C., but germination can be spotty depending on the variety. To speed the process, place the seeds between damp sheets of paper towel, put them in a zippered plastic bag, and put the bag in a warm place. As soon as the pepper seeds sprout, carefully plant them in individual containers such as pea pots. When the first true leaves develop, move the plants to a sunny southern window until you can transplant them into the garden. Don’t set out your pepper transplants until night temperatures average 12-15 C. In cooler climates plant in a greenhouse or under a plastic cover.
Plant peppers in a bed that receives full sun. Provide a sandy loam soil that drains well and contains plenty of organic matter. Depending on the size of the pepper varieties planted, spacing should be 12-18 inches apart. Peppers can double as ornamentals, so tuck some into flowerbeds and borders. Most sweet peppers mature in 60-90 days; hot peppers can take up to 150 days. Keep in mind, however, that the number of days to maturity stated on the seed packet refers to the days after transplanting until the plant produces a full-sized fruit. You must add 8-10 weeks for the time between sowing and transplanting which means most of us will be starting pepper plants indoors as between February and early April.
To get an early start with your peppers, particularly in the North, cover the prepared bed with a dark-colored polyethylene mulch at least a week before transplanting. This will heat the soil beneath and provide a better growing condition for young pepper plants. The mulch will also help the soil retain moisture throughout the season as the plants grow. Staking Peppers is important as peppers are easily damaged when laden with fruit. For support, tie the plants to stakes using old nylons or similar, which have some ‘give’ as the stems enlarge. Don’t use wire twist-ties or twine which will gradually choke off or even snap the stem.
Soil should have abundant phosphorus and calcium, so add lime and compost to the bed at least three weeks prior to transplanting. Mix ½ cup of complete organic fertilizer beneath each plant. Though peppers will tolerate dry soil, they will only make good growth if kept moist. Harden off before planting out in June, 30-60 cm apart. Water in with kelp-based fertilizer. Using plastic mulch with a cloche can increase the temperature a few degrees. Pinch back growing tips to encourage leaf production. this helps shade peppers and prevents sun-scald in hot summers.
When fertilizing your peppers, look for 5-10-10 fertilizer. This contains half as much nitrogen as phosphate and potassium. A higher phosphate and potassium number will encourage more fruit production. A lower nitrogen number will help the plant grow, without doing it at the expense of producing fruit.
Harvest when fruit is firm it is ready to pick. If you wait the fruit will ripen further turning red, yellow, brown or purple. The sweetness and vitamin C content go up dramatically when the fruit changes colour. If you pick green the total numbers of peppers harvested will increase. Fruit that sets after late August will not usually develop or ripen. Pull out the entire bush just before the first frost and hang it upside down in a warm, dry place to ripen hot peppers. Expect 5-10 large bell peppers per well-grown plant
Allowing fruits to fully ripen enhances flavour, but often at the sacrifice of yield size. Plus, you will have to wait until late in the season before harvesting table-ready peppers. When picking peppers use a sharp knife or garden shears to cut the stem. For maximum flavour, eat peppers on the same day they are picked. You can also leave them on a kitchen counter for a day or two to ripen further. Peppers placed in the crisper drawer or in plastic wrap or bags in the refrigerator do not keep flavour as those kept on the counter. Peppers are warm-weather fruits and do not store well in cold temperatures. If you have too many peppers, consider freezing extra peppers for use later.
In late fall prior to the first frost, cut the entire pepper plant and hang upside down to allow the remaining fruit to ripen.
To prevent rot and wilt, plant in well-drained soils and follow a 4-year rotation.
If cutworms are a problem, use paper collars at the plant base. Control aphids, which spread the disease.
Pepper plants make good neighbours for asparagus, basil, carrots, cucumbers, eggplant, endive, oregano, parsley, rosemary, squash, Swiss chard, and tomatoes. Never plant them next to beans, Brassicas, or fennel.
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