Grow peppers successfully with these 10 tips

If you enjoy growing your own vegetables at home, peppers can become a garden staple. They're delicious raw in salads or cooked in chillis and stews, plus add a healthy dose of color to your plate.
But growing peppers isn't always necessarily the easiest of tasks. The plant can be rather persnickety, requiring just-right conditions in order for you to achieve the most healthy produce. However, there are certain tips that can help guarantee a bountiful pepper crop, year upon year.
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1. Lots of light
Pepper plans absolutely love the sun, so bear this in mind when deciding where to plant. Choose an area of your garden that gets six to eight hours of direct sunlight every day. If you're not sure, study your garden's light patterns for a few days before planting.
2. Timing is key
Planting your peppers at the right time is the best way to ensure they'll be perfectly ready when it's time to harvest. You want to avoid frost at all costs, so make sure to check the timings for your planting zone. In terms of unexpected frosts, try to cover up your pepper plants to keep them warm.
3. Space them out
Peppers require a surprising amount of growing space, and packing too many in too tightly can cause stunted growth. When installing your seedlings outside, you need to give each one a minimum of two feet of growing area.
4. Offer support
Adding a trellis or other support can really help encourage your pepper plant to reach its full potential. Stakes can be a great way to help your pepper plant hold itself up, even as the vegetables grow larger.
5. Clever pruning
It can be very exciting when you see your pepper plant flowering early, but it's actually a bad sign. Early flowering tends to produce small, underdeveloped fruit, so removing any flowers that come up before all the others is essential.
6. Feed and nourish
Two nutrients that pepper plants love are calcium and magnesium. Adding powdered milk around the base of your plants can boost calcium and minimize the chances of blossom end rot. Magnesium can help encourage flowers to turn into healthy fruit and can be boosted by adding Epsom salts to your soil.
7. The waiting game
Peppers tend to be the last vegetables you get to harvest from your garden. This is because they love the sun so much! While it can feel frustrating to wait for your peppers as you begin to enjoy the other fruits of your labor, remember that patience is a virtue that will be rewarded when it comes to pepper growing.
8. Tidying up
While your pepper plants grow, it's important that you stay on top of your weeding schedule. Weeds can cause damage to your pepper plants, plus be a lovely habitat for dangerous pests. Mulching around the base of your plant can help prevent weeds, but you should still make sure you're removing any extra ones by hand.
9. Beating pests
Unfortunately, pepper plants have a lot of natural enemies in your garden. Making sure not to overwater, plus removing any dodgy-looking peppers, can help minimize fungal problems. Aphids and beetles can be beaten by treating your pepper plant with insecticide.
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10. Time to fertilize
You want to make sure your soil is as healthy as possible for your current crop of pepper plants and for any future ones. Add fertilizer to your soil both before you plant your pepper seedlings and during their growth cycle. This gives your peppers a healthy start and helps support the plants throughout their lifespans.

When starting to plan your garden for the upcoming spring, consider incorporating flowering plants and herbs. It might be hard to imagine planting flowers in place of your most-loved edibles, but the benefits are worth the sacrifice.
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