Peppers are quite compact plants and so don’t take up a huge amount of space in your greenhouse or polytunnel. They produce a fine crop and can be grown well in containers and pots. Both chilli and bell peppers are part of the capsicum family. Chilli peppers are small and have a hot flavour while bell peppers are larger and milder in flavour.
Peppers need a long growing season so the earlier you get started the better your chance of producing good, ripe fruit. Get the seeds sown in February on a heating mat if you can. They can take up to 2 weeks to germinate. Sow seeds at 20 degrees celsius in pots of compost or module trays. Transfer in to 9cm pots when the seedlings are large enough to handle. Pot up again to a 30cm pot when the plants look like they’ve outgrown the previous pot.
Harden off carefully before planting out in the greenhouse or polytunnel in May or June. You can grow the peppers in the pots in a conservatory or sunny kitchen but they will be demanding when grown this way and you will need to feed and water regularly. In the polytunnel or greenhouse, dig a deep hole and add plenty of well-rotted organic matter. Support with small canes if required. Feed regularly with a high-potash feed (comfrey tea works well) once they start to flower.
Harvesting peppers is a balancing act – you will have to wait a long time for them to ripen from green to bright red (about a month), but leaving them to mature like this reduces the overall yield of the plant. So do you want a small number of lovely red peppers or lots of lovely green ones? The choice is yours. At the end of the growing season, dig up the plant and hang it upside down in the greenhouse – this will help the unripened peppers to mature.
Chilli: Demon Red, Hungarian Wax, Navaho, Purple Tiger, Ring of Fire
Bell: Bell Boy F1, Roberta F1
Make sure there is plenty of ventilation in the greenhouse. Red spider mite is a common pest – check the underside of leaves and spray with an organic pesticide if they appea
Peppers store well, they can be frozen, dried or stuffed in to jars and filled with oil.
Greenfly can be an issue for peppers. A spray made from crushed garlic, oil and washing-up liquid, sprayed on to leaves can deter.