The Garden Patch: A little pepper upper for a cold winter day – Osage County Online | Osage County News

The Garden Patch: A little pepper upper for a cold winter day

Red, green and yellow Osage County-grown peppers offer a reminder that the colors of summer will get here someday.



Here’s something to think about. Remember when Uncle Sam could live within his income – and without so much of yours and ours? And one other note: The worry of children and what to do about ‘em is easier than figuring out what you’d do without ‘em! OK! Here goes the gardening bit for this week …


Peppers are a close relative to the tomato; but, peppers are more cold sensitive than tomatoes and usually require more fertilization. Peppers are generally classified as sweet or hot, with the most common sweet peppers being large, blocky bell or mango varieties. Hot peppers vary in size and shape as well as degree of hotness. Peppers can be eaten either when the fruit is full sized but immature or when it changes to its mature color. A variety of colors from green, red, yellow, orange, purple, white and brown (dull purple) are available.

Varieties. Green to red blocky bell types include Melody, Bell Boy, Jupiter, Lady Bell, Keystone Resistant Giant and improved California Wonder varieties. Green to yellow varieties include Honeybell, Marengo and Golden Bell. Gypsy and Canary are light yellow when immature but red when mature. Oriole turns bright orange when mature. Purple Bell and Purple Beauty turn purple at maturity. Other sweet peppers include sweet cherry, Pimento, sweet banana and Italian frying types. Hot peppers include jalapeno; Anaheim, used for chiles rellenos; El Paso and Coronado. Tam Jal is a milder flavored jalapeno. Small, hot types include Serrano, Red Chili and Super Chili.

Small, orange Habanero types are among to hottest peppers. Ornamental peppers vary in flavor and hotness and can be enjoyed as ornamental plants.

When to plant. Peppers are usually set as transplants in the garden and should be planted one to two weeks after setting tomatoes. Peppers exposed to cold temperatures early in the season will often drop their fruit, resulting in a large, unproductive plant. Mid-May is a safe time to plant peppers in most of central and eastern Kansas.

Spacing. Set plants 18 inches to 2 feet apart in rows 15 inches apart. Hot peppers usually produce a larger, more sprawling plant and require more space.

Care. Peppers thrive in well-drained, fertile soil. Water is required in dry periods. Even, consistent watering is preferred as peppers can develop blossom end rot, a brown, leathery patch at the base of the fruit. Peppers require a slightly more fertile spot than tomatoes, but you should avoid over fertilization. Harvest fruit when they are the desirable size, to keep the plants producing more. Poorly shaded fruit may be susceptible to sunburn in hot summer conditions.

Harvesting. Carefully pick or cut peppers from the plants. Avoid pulling on the fruit as you can easily break the plant. Peppers that have begun to turn color usually will continue after harvest. Hot peppers produce an oil which will penetrate the skin and cause discomfort if you get it in your eyes or other sensitive area of the body (tell me about it!). Use rubber gloves to harvest very hot peppers. Sweet peppers can be frozen or dried. Store peppers up to a week in the refrigerator.

Common concerns. Aphids, tobacco mosaic virus (distorted, misshapen leaves; transmitted by aphids).

A thought … isn’t it a shame that future generations can’t be here to see all the wonderful things we’re doing with their money?

This is a short column this week – I wanted to include potatoes – but that requires a lot of space – so we’ll do those next week! Hope you have a wonderful week and that many good things come your way! Till next week …

stevehallerSteve Haller, of Osage City, a K-State Research and Extension Master Gardener, writes The Garden Patch featuring gardening ideas and tips for gardeners in northeast Kansas. In his words: “I am not a horticulturist. By education I am an economist. By experience, I am a marketing guru from a local to an international scale. Gardening was taught to me by my grandfather and my Mom, and I’ve been doing it since World War II was going on.”

Steve can be contacted at [email protected], or leave questions or comments below.

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