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How to Select Peppers for the Garden

There are very many different kinds of sweet peppers and at least one of them will probably appeal to you as a suitable plant for your vegetable garden. None of the plants are difficult to grow or large in size so most home vegetable gardens will be able to accommodate a few pepper plants. The biggest problem is deciding which kinds of peppers you should grow.

Here are some points to consider when choosing sweet peppers for the garden.

Color and Sweetness:
These two characteristics are tied together. Mature peppers come in many different color but if a green bell pepper is left to ripen on the plant it will turn red, orange, yellow, purple or brown, depending on the variety, and will gain in sweetness as it ripens. Bell peppers may be eaten at various stages of maturity but will be sweetest when they have changed color from green.

Peppers are used fresh in salads, and cooked in many dishes. You may want to make a dish look like a Braque still life or to sweeten the taste, so color may be an important consideration in cooking. Blocky sweet peppers like ‘California wonder’, have well defined lobes and are best for stuffing. Some varieties are especially good for frying like ‘ Biscayne’ with a blunt end, or ‘Corno di Toro’, shaped liked curved bull’s horns. ‘Peperoncini’ is good picked for Italian antipasto while ‘Pimiento L’ is best be made into pimientos.

Days to Maturity
Sweet peppers are a warm weather crop and if you have a short growing season you may consider the number of days for a seedling planted in the garden to produce peppers. Sweet peppers take from 60 to 100 days to mature. ‘North Star’ hybrid matures in 60 days and is the most tolerant sweet pepper of cool temperatures. ‘ Chinese Giant’, a blocky, very sweet pepper, matures in 75 days, over two weeks later.

Disease Resistance
Tobacco Mosaic Virus is a threat to peppers and there are many varieties that are resistance, like California Wonder 300 TMV , an improvement of ‘California Wonder’ . If you smoke you may transfer the virus from the tobacco in cigarretts to the pepper plants as you handle them so this could be an important factor is choosing peppers.

Size of Plant
Most sweet pepper plants grow 2–3’ high but there are smaller, compact varieties, like ‘Bell Boy’ hybrid. Because of their small size, attractiveness and heavy yields, sweet peppers make good container plants.

Buying at you local nursery or farmers’ market is probably the best way to get cultivars that will do well in your garden. Keep in mind the options that are possible when selecting peppers and you will find one that will serve you well.


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