Sweet peppers & Chilli peppers
I love sweet peppers, it is as simple as that and, although I’m not one for eye-wateringly-spicy hot food, I do like to liven things up a bit with more subtle use of chilli peppers in my cooking too.
Like many vegetables, it is too late in the season to raise your own peppers from seed now (a job for February or March, so more of that at the appropriate season), but there are still plenty of great pepper plants to be had in garden centres and nurseries so treat yourself to a few whilst you can.
Peppers like warmer conditions so a greenhouse is best. If you have a conservatory this is great – just get in there now and shunt some of that furniture to one side and make space for some pepper plants! A sunny glazed porch also works well and a chilli plant will often perform well on a sunny windowsill too. In the south of the country you can even consider growing chillies and some sweet peppers outside, perhaps under a polythene shelter if conditions get a bit cool . Chillies are really good-looking plants, especially when they are studded with numerous finger-like fruits so will make a very pretty patio-pot filler too (just keep them out of the way of inquisitive children!!)
The key to a really good crop of peppers is light too – when I visited the amazing commercial pepper growing nursery at Tangmere last summer they were achieving 75 sweet peppers per plant – not something you or I could ever hope for but, by maximising light (no shading on the greenhouse, sunniest spot available etc) and regularly feeding (with a high-potash tomato feed) you will be amazed at what you can produce.
It is essential that bees and other pollinating insects have access to the plants and then soon you will see tiny fruits developing. If you keep the compost just moist (a little drier than for tomatoes, but not actually dry) the fruits will soon start to swell. If you’ve chosen a sweet pepper which is meant to be red, orange or yellow don’t be dismayed if the fruits are green. The green peppers you buy in the supermarket are simply ‘unripe’ and given a little longer yours will ripen to their ‘proper’ colour!