Water in moderation. Peppers are thirsty plants! They need a moderate supply of water from the moment you plant them until the end of the season. However, they won't tolerate saturated soil that water logs their roots. The soil must drain well, yet hold enough moisture to keep the plants in production. To maintain a proper balance, work some organic matter such as compost or humus into the soil when planting to enhance moisture retention. Use mulch to prevent excessive evaporation from the soil during the dry summer months. Don't over fertilize. This tends to make the plants develop lush foliage at the expense of fruit production. Just follow the directions for your favorite vegetable fertilizer.
Generally, peppers are problem-free from pests and disease, but the same pests and diseases that plague tomatoes and eggplants will occasionally attack them. With basic precautions, you can keep your peppers. Like cucumbers and summer squash, peppers are usually harvested at an immature stage. The traditional bell pepper, for example, is harvested green, even though most varieties will mature red, orange, or yellow. Peppers can be harvested at any stage of growth, but their flavor doesn't fully develop until maturity. This creates a dilemma for the home gardener. Frequent harvesting increases yields, often at the sacrifice of flavor. If you continually pick the peppers before they mature, the plants will continue to produce fruit in their quest to develop viable seed.
Allowing fruits to fully ripen enhances flavor, often at the sacrifice of yields. Plus, you will have to wait until late in the season before harvesting table-ready peppers. To avoid this dilemma, and if you have enough garden space, plant at least two of each variety you've selected. Allow one plant of each variety to fully ripen to maturity, and harvest the other throughout the season. When picking peppers, refrain from tugging on the fruit, which may break off a branch or even uproot the entire plant. Use sharp garden pruners to cut the tough stem. Till next time, this is Becky Litterer from Becky's Greenhouse, Dougherty Iowa