I must say, I've gone a little crazy with the amount of peppers I'm growing this year. To be exact, two varieties of Bell pepper, four Thai Hot pepper plants and two jalapeno pepper plants.
I took path of least resistance by purchasing transplants, instead of growing from seed. I gleaned from McGee and Stuckey's "The Bountiful Container", not to be seduced into buying tall plants that were already flowering and producing tiny fruits. Instead, opting for the dense, compact plants. If you transplant a plant that is already ahead of the growth curve (producing blossoms and fruit), it may end up permanently stunted. These never turn into vigorous and productive plants. Simply nip off small fruits and blooms to keep this from occurring.
Three micronutrients have a particulary profound effect on peppers, and all of them are contained in common household items:
- Sulfur ---in matches. Before tranplanting pepper plants into their containers, take a book of matches and remove the cardboard cover leaving the matches intact. Dig a hole for the plant, lay in one match bunch per hole and cover with an inch or so of soil. Then put in the plant. By the time the plant's roots reach the matches, the sulfur from the matches will have dissolved into the surrounding soil. Sulfur promotes plant protein and increases the nutritional content of the pepper.
- Calcium ---in eggshells. Save a few eggshells and leave them out on the counter for a few days until thoroughly dry. Then crush them. (Place them into a plastic bag and run over them with a rolling pin). Sprinkle a spoonful in the bottom of each pepper's planting hole. Calcium prevents blossom end rot, which creates round, black tips at the end of fruits.
- Magnesium ---in Epsom Salts, which is also magnesium sulfate, and is therefore a source of sulfur. Mix a bit of salts into plain water and spray the solution on the plants when blossoms begin to appear. Magnesium helps the pepper's fruits develop from flowers, and so promotes higher production.
One micronutrient you don't want to add to your peppers in nitrogen, or you'll have lots of beautiful foliage and very few fruits.