Growing peppers was one thing I struggled with for many years. Time after time, I would put time and effort into growing them, only to be rewarded with a pitiful harvest.
Does this sound familiar to you? Many people struggle with peppers in the UK, but after much trial and error, I have finally cracked the code.
Here are some of my top tips that will allow you to grow more peppers than ever this year.
Choosing The Right Variety
Some pepper varieties produce more fruit than others. It is as simple as that. Unfortunately, the bell peppers we know and love are often some of the poorer types when it comes to pure numbers.
Long thin peppers are often much more productive than bell peppers. These don’t have to be hot, and many sweet varieties are available.
If I could give you one piece of advice, it would be this: start your peppers indoors as early as possible.
In their native countries, peppers are perennials, with some lasting many years.
This means they are slow growers, and in our shorter season, the weather can often change before they have fully developed.
By starting them off early indoors, we prolong the growing season by many months, giving us a much better chance of huge harvests.
I have a grow light setup complete with heated seed mats, but a sunny windowsill above a radiator can work well too.
Just like you prune and train your tomato plants, you should also prune and train your pepper plants.
You don’t have to, but there are many reasons why you should, just like with tomatoes.
Removing The Growing Tip
The first pruning method is to pinch out the growing tip. This is done to promote bushier rather than vertical growth.
Removing the growing tip is a standard method used with many plants, and it works well.
You do it when the plant is still very young, just a bit above a seedling size. Pinch out the growing tip back to a set of leaves.
Like tomatoes, removing the suckers from your pepper plants can be a good idea.
Suckers are the growth shoot from the main stem just above a leaf node.
If you allow these to remain on the plant, the pepper will put more effort into developing foliage than fruit.
Again like tomatoes, it can be better to leave the suckers sometimes. On tomatoes, you do this with cherry varieties as the bushier growth leads to more fruit.
You leave the suckers on smaller chilli plants that produce lots of little fruit but prune them on ones that provide larger fruit. So your bell peppers, for example, should have the suckers removed regularly.
You can feed peppers with a nitrogen-heavy feed at first, then move to one with more phosphorus in it as they begin to flower.
Tomato feed can work well with pepper plants and is what I use.
This can help increase your pepper yields. I use a paintbrush and dab it from flower to flower.
This is essential for indoor plants and very helpful for greenhouse-grown ones.
It may be that they will be pollinated naturally, but a little help can go a long way. The peppers’ flowers contain male and female parts, so this is an easy job.
Peppers produce many flowers, and if each is pollinated, that means more peppers for you!