Peppers

GARDENING

Sweet or spicy, peppers are popular in the kitchen!

It’s time to start thinking about starting pepper seeds indoors!

When to start peppers: 
Start peppers indoors 8 to 10 weeks before average last spring frost, and transplant them out when daytime temperatures are at least 70°F, and nighttime temperatures are at least 55°F. In mild climates, though, peppers can be sown directly into a greenhouse or garden soil 2 to 4 weeks after any danger of frost.

Sowing Temperature: 
Temperature is crucial for starting peppers. Pepper seeds germinate much faster if the soil/media is kept at 70°-90°F. At cooler temperatures, they can either fail to sprout, or sprouting may take a month. The longer seeds take to emerge, the more susceptible they are to rotting in the wet conditions or being attacked by fungus in the media. Seedling heat mats are especially helpful in maintaining warm soil for peppers. Once germinated, peppers can be grown at air temperatures of 60°F at night and 70°F during the day.

Hot, hotter, and…
A class of compounds called capsaicin (derived from peppers’ genus name) gives chile peppers their spiciness. Capsaicin occurs mostly in the light-colored ribs (also called pith) inside the pepper. The seeds contain very little or no capsaicin, but are often hot because they come in contact with the capsaicin from the ribs. Capsaicin may have several health benefits. Some of the possibilities being studied are increased metabolism, appetite suppression, decreased heart disease, reduced pain perception, and heartburn (believe it or not!). Like your peppers hot? The more mature the pepper fruit, the hotter the pepper will be. Stress, such as drought, will also make peppers hotter. You can cause stress to the plant by cutting back on watering after fruits have started to develop so the soil stays dry, but be careful not to let the plant wilt! However, drought stress may reduce yields.

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