Avg seeds/pkt 30
By the time peppers turn cherry-red and are developing their sweetest flavors, a signal has already been sent to the plant’s control panel: no new peppers! Designate a few plants for reds, and pick the green, gold, and orange peppers from others.
Start plants indoors 8–10 weeks before your average last frost date. Sow 2 seeds 1/4 inch deep in moist seed-starting mix and warm from below to 85°F for germination in 8 days. Right from the start, pepper seedlings need 12 to 16 hours of bright light daily for strong stems able to support ripening fruit. Cool fluorescent bulbs can be as close as 1/2 inch above.
When daytime soil temps are a consistent 70°F, and nights no lower than 60–about 3 weeks after your average last frost date—transplant into well-drained soil amended with compost and granular, low-nitrogen fertilizer, in full sun. Plant in groups of 3 with 12 inches between for a bit of shade-sharing that will produce more fruit. Water deeply only when soil is dry, and side-dress with a granular, natural fertilizer as flowers set fruit.
Plants grow 15–20 inches tall and 15 inches wide. Start cutting 6-inch long pale green and yellow peppers—good for pickles—in 65 days; fully ripened reds may take 85.
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