The Q&A Archives: Late Bell Peppers

Question: I plant my bell peppers as soon as possible after last frost. I use only tumbler made compost in my garden , no commercial fertilizers. I have an irrigation system in my garden and it gets about 8 to 10 hours of full sun a day, my pepper plants get about 4 ft. high with a stalk about 11/2 inch in diameter , full of lots of foliage, but I don't get any peppers until late , Sept. , Oct. time frame; they are always of super market quality, but I would like to harvest them earlier in the summer, July, August... is there a trick to getting them to produce sooner or am I doing something wrong? I usually put three matches and a tablespoon of epson salts in the hole when I plant them.. they are fabulous but so late!!

Answer: Your garden sounds wonderful!

There are several possible explanations for the lateness. A common one is cold soil temperatures at transplant time. Many gardeners find it best to start their own pepper transplants and wait to plant them out in the garden when the soil has warmed. One good method to help warm the soil sooner is to use raised beds, another is to cover the soil with black plastic mulch beginning early in the spring. This, combined with row covers when the temperature is below 85 degrees, can help accelerate the crop. It is interesting to note that yields can be significantly decreased by simply transplanting them too early when the soil is still cool.

Other possible causes could be the varieties you are growing since some are much later than others, temperature extremes during the flowering period, or an overabundance of nitrogen in the soil (this is quite possible early in the season if you are using a compost rich in manure).

I hope you have better luck with your peppers!

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