How to Improve Your Chili Pepper Harvest: 14 Tips That Work

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Are you a fan of hot chilies? Then chili peppers are in your garden! If you want the best harvest ever, we have some tips for making sure your plants are as healthy and strong as possible.

Peppers bring heat to your culinary dishes, and they are a great option for the new gardener. These plants produce well even if you don’t pay much attention to them.

However, proper attention and care will lead to a harvest beyond your imagination. Ready for the best crop of chili peppers ever? Here are the tips that took my garden to the next level.

14 Tips for Getting Your Best Chili Harvest

Pepper plants such as jalapenos, habaneros, Anaheim and cayenne are capable of producing large crops, so use these tips to get the best harvest ever. If you can’t eat them all, pickle, dry or pack in oil so you can enjoy them for months to come.

1. Start the Seeds Inside and Keep Them Warm

How to Improve Your Chili Pepper Harvest: 14 Tips That Work

Peppers take time to grow, and it is best to start seed 8-12 weeks before the last frost date in your area. Most of these plants are slow growers. Even jalapenos that mature in 75 days take a long time compared to other vegetables.

One of the best ways to ensure your seeds germinate is to keep them warm, around 80-85°F. The soil should also remain moist, but never allow the soil to become saturated or soggy.

2. Don’t Put Them Out Too Early

Chili pepper plants are not adapted to frost, so planting them outside too early is not a good idea. They should not go outside until the danger of frost is completely gone.

This means you may have to wait beyond your last frost date because those dates are only guidelines. Mother Nature has a mind of her own, and those dates are regularly followed by frosts and freezing temperatures.

Hot peppers grow best when the temperature is between 70-95°F. Make sure the soil temperature is at least 65°F before planting. If you put your plants outside and a surprise frost arrives, be sure to cover your plants.

3. Sun, Sun, and more Sun

If you want to get the best crop of peppers ever, you need to make sure your plants get all the sunlight possible. They need at least six to eight hours of sunlight, but with these plants, the more the better.

How to Improve Your Chili Pepper Harvest: 14 Tips That Work

Chili peppers love sun and heat; Maybe it’s because they’re a hot pepper! Plants produce best when they are kept warm throughout the day.

4. Load Compost!

Chili peppers like rich soil, so I suggest adding in mushroom compost or organic compost before planting. Fertile, rich soil is best for peppers, and your harvest will thank you.

Adding compost to your soil does something more important – helps with drainage. You need to drain the soil properly to avoid root rot.

5. Keep the Soil Slightly Acidic

Pepper plants grow best when their soil is slightly acidic. The best pH range is between 6.0-6.8. Before amending your soil’s pH range, make sure you get the soil tested beforehand. You could risk spoiling the soil if you don’t check before adjusting things!

6. Don’t Keep Plants Too Close

How to Improve Your Chili Pepper Harvest: 14 Tips That Work

Keeping your chili pepper plants too close together will reduce their yield and increase the risk of diseases. These plants prefer a spacing of between 18-36 inches, and require rows to be spaced two to three feet apart.

Why is the interval so important?

There are many reasons, but two are the most important to know.

  1. When you put plants too close together, you reduce the airflow around the plants. A decrease in airflow combined with moisture and humidity is a recipe for fungal infections. Pepper plants are prone to many diseases, so proper spacing reduces this problem significantly.
  2. Plants grow very close to each other and compete for nutrients and water. The more nutrients and water your plants have, the better your chili crop will be. More competition is not always a good thing.

7. Plant Companions

Take advantage of companion plants that help chili peppers. Aromatic herbs, such as basil, are great choices because they drive away pests such as thrips and aphids. You can also plant calendula nearby because they attract pollinators and beneficial insects, such as ladybugs, lacewings and hoverflies.

Other choices of companion plants for chili peppers include:

  • tansy
  • salad
  • spinach
  • arugula
  • beat
  • Carrot
  • Parsnips
  • Radish

8. Keep Soil Moist

When growing chili peppers, the soil needs to be consistently moist, but not soggy. Soggy, saturated soil will risk rotting your plants, causing them to die. These plants love moisture as much as sunlight.

9. Keep the Weeds Down

Remember how closely planted peppers increase competition for nutrients in the soil?

Same goes for weeds!

Weeds take up nutrients in the soil that your pepper plants need more food to grow. One of the best ways to reduce weeds in your garden is to spread a thick layer of mulch around your plants. Mulch not only kills weeds, but it also maintains soil temperature and moisture.

10. Don’t Forget to Fertilize Your Chili Peppers

How to Improve Your Chili Pepper Harvest: 14 Tips That Work

Pepper plants need to be fertilized. Tomato fertilizers work well for chili peppers; They have similar nutritional needs. If you can’t find tomato compost at your local garden store, try a 5-10-10 fertilizer.

Generally, it is best to work these into the soil before planting, using three pounds of fertilizer per 100 square feet of soil.

During the growing season, fish emulsion and seaweed or kelp fertilizers are excellent choices to give your plants the boost they need to grow and thrive.

Pepper plants need to be fertilized two to three times.

  • when planting
  • at flowering
  • when chili appears

11. Prevent Blossom End Rot

Peppers, like tomatoes, are prone to rotting at the end of the bloom, which is caused by a lack of calcium. It’s a common misconception that you can just add calcium to the soil to correct it. But most soils contain enough calcium for plants, although you should test your soil to be sure.

The problem is that your pepper plants cannot access the calcium in the soil. It can happen for many reasons. If the plant is not getting enough water, too much water, or inconsistent watering, it can cause this disorder. Or, if the roots are damaged by aggressive weeding or tillage, the plant will not get the calcium it needs.

Excessive fertilization with nitrogen can also contribute to the problem.

Test your soil and make sure your peppers get consistent moisture, but not too much. Use caution when weeding or plowing and do not over-fertilize with nitrogen.

12. Pinch the Early Flowers

The first buds usually appear early on your pepper plants, but if you want to increase your chili pepper crop, you’ll need to remove these buds. All you have to do is pinch or cut the plant.

Continue to remove buds until the plants are six inches tall. Doing this may seem counterintuitive because you are removing the buds that turn into peppers, but it creates a bushy plant that will produce a large crop of peppers. You will always have strong, healthy plants.

13. Watch for Pests and Diseases

How to Improve Your Chili Pepper Harvest: 14 Tips That Work

Pepper plants are prone to various pests and diseases, so if you want a good crop of peppers, make sure you keep an eye out for these problems.

The major diseases that chili peppers are prone to are bacterial spots, powdery mildew and rot. Your plants may also have aphids or spiders.

14. Keep Picking Chili

Chili peppers are usually ready for harvesting in July or early August. The more peppers you cut, the more pepper plants you produce.

For most types of peppers, if you harvest the peppers when they are young, they have a milder flavor. The flavor is more spicy and stronger if you harvest the peppers when they are ripe.

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