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A Rainbow of Peppers
This article was published originally on 6/6/2003
Bell or green peppers are attractive as well as tasty additions to the vegetable garden. Bell peppers are one of the few vegetables that are available in a multitude of colors. Seed catalogs offer cultivars with purple, yellow, orange, cream, pink, red, or the typical dark green fruits. What you may not know is that all bell peppers start out green and most turn red if left to mature on the plant. Many cultivars go through several color changes as they ripen. However, many cultivar names are derived depending on the color stage of the pepper at harvest. Although peppers are sweetest when they are fully mature and red, they can be harvested anytime after they reach their mature size. Typically, each pepper should be blocky, 4 6 inches long and 3 5 inches wide when harvested.
Below is a list of several cultivars that grow well in Iowa gardens.
Generally peppers are started from seed indoors 6 to 8 weeks before the last frost. Seedlings also can be purchased at garden centers and transplanted outdoors after the threat of frost has passed. Peppers prefer sites in full sun with well-drained soils. Water should be applied deeply and infrequently during dry weather; apply 1 inch of water per week. Fertilize with a diluted fertilizer solution as the first fruit begin to form. A complete fertilizer like 10-10-10 or 5-10-5 is ideal. Some pepper varieties may need support, especially during fruit development. When harvesting the fruit, use a knife or other sharp object to prevent damaging the plant and other ripening fruit.
Bell peppers are versatile and can be used fresh, cooked, or frozen for later use. They are nutritious and a good source of vitamins A and C. These easy- to-grow vegetables are as pretty on the plate as they are in the garden.
Year of Publication:
IC-489(13) -- June 6, 2003