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Why Can't I Grow Peppers?  RSS feed

 
Ferne Reid
Posts: 122
Location: SW Tennessee Zone 7a average rainfall 52"
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My spring greens took over the world. My tomatoes are huge. Everything I put in the ground usually does very, very well ... except the peppers.

I put them in the same bed with my tomatoes. I give them organic plant food. I water them. I sing to them at night ... well, OK, I don't go that far, but I've done everything that I can think of to do. The plants look green and healthy, and they're setting peppers. They're just very small, and consequently I can't get a pepper bigger than my index finger. I've been trying for years, and I can never seem to get them to grow to a decent size.

What am I doing wrong?
 
Todd Parr
pollinator
Posts: 1235
Location: Wisconsin, zone 4
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Are you growing them from seed?
 
Ferne Reid
Posts: 122
Location: SW Tennessee Zone 7a average rainfall 52"
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No. Transplants.
 
Judith Browning
Posts: 5907
Location: Arkansas Ozarks zone 7 alluvial,black,deep loam/clay with few rocks, wonderful creek bottom!
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I wonder what variety you've been growing? I have trouble growing sweet bell peppers but everything else does well here if the deer don't find them. I think hot peppers do the best of all, cayenne especially, and I've had good luck with pimentos too. Sometimes they don't take off until the weather gets really hot and sunny though.
 
John Weiland
Posts: 933
Location: RRV of da Nort
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@Ferne R.:"I sing to them at night ... well, OK, I don't go that far..."

Not the end of the world if was metal anthems, but I'd keep at it with the 50's era showtunes....particularly those with a rural setting like "Oklahoma!".....

Do you have any idea what variety they are? Are they supposed to be the larger bell-type peppers or hungarian wax/anaheim types? There are of course some hotter peppers that will be the size of your index finger at maturity,....are these a mild or hot pepper?

 
Ferne Reid
Posts: 122
Location: SW Tennessee Zone 7a average rainfall 52"
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I have 4 varieties of sweet bell peppers and 2 kinds of hot peppers (far away from each other). The hot peppers are supposed to be fairly small, although I think these plants could be a little bigger. It's the bell peppers that frustrate me.

I couldn't grow them in PA, and I thought moving south would solve the problem, but they're no better down here.
 
Ferne Reid
Posts: 122
Location: SW Tennessee Zone 7a average rainfall 52"
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Oh, and John ... show tunes, huh? Maybe that's it. They're tired of my son's Christian rock.
 
Bryant RedHawk
garden master
Posts: 2839
Location: Vilonia, Arkansas - Zone 7B/8A stoney, sandy loam soil pH 6.5
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Ferne, have you checked your soil pH? it needs to be in the 6.2-6.8 range for best growth, they need around 8 hours of full sun per day and they don't like really hot weather.
In our summers (really hot and very high humidity) the peppers slow down in the heat but pick back up as it gets cooler (under95 f).

Check out Bonnie Plants Bonnie Plants.com

 
John Weiland
Posts: 933
Location: RRV of da Nort
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@Ferne R.: "Oh, and John ... show tunes, huh? Maybe that's it."

Always worth a shot.....especially if you can warble like Shirley Jones!

For what it's worth, we aren't too far from the Canadian border in the north central US (zone 4) and can grow many of the long pepper types, but only one thick-walled sweet has worked for us which I've pasted below. Can't recall where we originally got the seed, but you should be able to adapt the variety to your location by saving seed each year.
RoundSweet.JPG
[Thumbnail for RoundSweet.JPG]
 
alex Keenan
Posts: 487
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Bryant RedHawk wrote:Ferne, have you checked your soil pH? it needs to be in the 6.2-6.8 range for best growth, they need around 8 hours of full sun per day and they don't like really hot weather.
In our summers (really hot and very high humidity) the peppers slow down in the heat but pick back up as it gets cooler (under95 f).

Check out Bonnie Plants Bonnie Plants.com



Once your soil temperatures are in the 80's you should mulch the peppers so you can deal with temperatures in the 90's and beyond in heat of summer.

You should be able to find a soil pH and moisture meter cheap.

Let soil dry some between watering. Water soil not leaves. In humid area allow enough space for air flow.

Last tip, grow long peppers and buy bell peppers from farmers market.
 
Tracy Wandling
steward
Posts: 1663
Location: Cortes Island, British Columbia. Zone: 8ish Lat: 50; Rainfall: 50" ish; sand and rocks; well water
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In my experience peppers that get too much nitrogen produce lovely lush plants, but don't produce much in the way of fruit. If you've got them growing with your tomatoes, and other things that like a more nitrogen rich soil, that might be part of the problem. Just a thought . . .
 
John Elliott
pollinator
Posts: 2392
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Pots.

When I lived out west, in California and New Mexico, I could plant peppers in the ground and they would do well; now that I am in Georgia, I have better luck putting them in pots than I do planting them in a vegetable bed or a hugelkultur. I think it is because pots dry out more, and simulate the arid soil of the west better. At the end of the day, they may look droopy and heat stressed, but that is what makes for strong, productive pepper plants. When you get a Deep South gullywasher of a rain, say 2 or 3 inches, the pepper plants in the garden bed are NOT happy. But the ones in the pots, as soon as the sun comes out the next day and they dry out, they are ready to put on a flush of growth.

This year, all of my peppers are in pots (eggplants too), and I will use the raised beds and hugelkultur for plants that appreciate it.
 
John Polk
steward
Posts: 8019
Location: Currently in Lake Stevens, WA. Home in Spokane
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I think it is because pots dry out more, and simulate the arid soil of the west better. At the end of the day, they may look droopy and heat stressed, but that is what makes for strong, productive pepper plants.

I have grown a variety of chili peppers in the southwest. My best luck has been when I wait until the leaves begin to look wilted before I water again. Peppers only seem to need a fraction of the water that a tomato needs. A well watered pepper, will produce bland peppers...they seem to need the water stressing to produce spicy hot peppers.

(I have never had much luck with bell peppers.)
 
Ferne Reid
Posts: 122
Location: SW Tennessee Zone 7a average rainfall 52"
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I haven't tried keeping them in pots. Think I'll go buy another plant and give it a whirl.

I hear ya on the gully washer rains ... one of the first things that struck me when I moved was how differently it rains here. And there's this big, bright thing in the sky that seems to be out most of the time. You don't see it nearly as often on the shores of Lake Erie.

Bottom line is that I'm still learning how to garden down here. Not sure how many years I'll have to be here before I get over being amazed that I can actually eat from the garden in March!
 
Bryant RedHawk
garden master
Posts: 2839
Location: Vilonia, Arkansas - Zone 7B/8A stoney, sandy loam soil pH 6.5
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We grow all our bell peppers in straw bales that have been aged for a year, that's the best method for us after some trial and error with in ground planting of peppers.
This year we had to get new bales from our supplier and I laid on and watered in 3 lbs. of coffee grounds per bale. I planted broccoli first and now that those are done we are putting in the peppers, tomatoes and egg plants.
One of the things I like best about straw bales is their ability to remain moist but not wet for two to three weeks right now. Later in the summer I might have to soak them once a week but normal is around once every two weeks at our peak heat months.

 
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