We really want hot or hotter, right? That is why many Filipinos love to eat hot peppers or sili in Tagalog. But how do you successfully grow hot peppers in your garden or farm?
Growing hot peppers is not the same as growing other vegetables. Hot peppers is a member of the nightshade family and they have some specific requirements that are not the same when you’ve grown other vegetables in the past. So, we will give you some tips to succeed in growing super hot peppers from seed to harvest.
1. Germinating Seeds
- Soften the seed shell. One of the best things you can do for your seed is to soak them before planting. This weakens the shell barrier so the seedlings don’t have to work so hard to come out. You may use a weak chamomile tea solution to kill off any bacteria that may be present in the seed. To make a Weak Tea Solution, brew a cup of chamomile tea and drink it. Use the same tea bag to make another cup of tea, and then use the batch to soak your seeds. Let your seeds soak for 24 to 48 hours before planting.
- Bag Method. Another method is by using a paper towel, a ziplock bag, or coffee filter and water. To do this, get a paper towel or coffee filter and then fold it in 4 and spray water until damp. Place the seed in between the fold and seal it inside the ziplock. Spray the paper tower every day to keep it moist and once they germinated, bury them under a light layer of sterile potting soil. You can also use a cup instead of Ziplock to do this.
2. Transplanting Peppers
- Transplanting pepper seed is the most critical step in growing hot peppers. We need to be very careful when transplanting pepper.
- Start with good pepper plants. It should be 6-10 weeks old with dark green color, thick stems and no blooms.
- Harden off. Hardening pepper plants will enable them to withstand the shock of being transplanted into the garden and move quicker toward new growth and fruiting.
- Choose the right time. To transplant the garden, the soil temperature should be around 65F and your seedlings are hardened.
- Choose the right site. Plant peppers in full sun, in fertile, well-drained soil. Planting in partial shade will reduce yields and lengthen the time required to produce and riper fruit.
- Plant your peppers and water in. Although spacing will vary by pepper variety, a good general guidelines is to allow 12-18 inches between stems.
- Use mulch
- Provide support (staking)
3. Fertilizing Peppers
- When true leaves appear, you can start using a diluted amount of fish emulsion or fish and seaweed fertilizer to help along seedling growth.
- Foliar feeding. After your plants have three or four sets of true leaves, you can apply Epsom salt directly to the leaves and stem. It will keep the plant foliage strong and prevents light green to yellow leaves from developing. Add 1 teaspoon of Epsom salt to a gallon of water and shake it well. Pour the mixture into a spray bottle and then spritz the leaves and stems with the solution until thoroughly covered. Spray your plant every other week with Epsom salt and the other week with fish emulsion.
- Feeding Outdoor Peppers. Continue with the fish emulsion/fish and seaweed fertilizer schedule, but this time increase the dosage to about half the amount described on the label. If on the ground, you can use the full amount. Keep the foliar feeding with Epsom salts the same. Add compost to pepper plants. Not only does compost condition the soil, but it fertilizes your chilies and acts as a natural pesticide to insects. After your peppers are planted, use a good quality organic compost and layer it on the top of the soil. You may also use calcium and phosphorus such as bone meal. These nutrients help build stronger plant structure, keep your chillies flowering and fruiting and prevent blossom-end rot. A monthly feeding of calcium and phosphorus is usually sufficient for peppers.
- Use Compost Tea. Compost tea will be a great help to your hot peppers growth. It is a concentrated liquid of compost that has beneficial microbes that benefit both the plant and the soil. Pour the tea in a sprayer and drench the stems as well as the tops and undersides of leaves and let the excess drips to the soil. You must do this once a month to prevent foliar disease and promote growth.