Answer: Peppers can be very temperamental. They are especially sensitive to poor drainage, high or persistent wind, and extreme temperatures -- a cool spell or heat wave during flowering can cause the flowers or small fruits to drop. Because the peppers you do get are small, and the growth seems stunted, my first thought is that there's a nutrient deficiency, caused either by excess soil moisture or pH imbalance. Both can affect the plants' ability to take up nutrients, which will contribute to poor growth and production. In general, peppers don't need a lot of fertilizer -- a dressing with compost when you set them out, and a sidedressing of a balanced liquid fertilizer three weeks after planting and again at fruit set. Magnesium is also very important to peppers, so a fine layer of Epsom salts worked into the soil at planting time may help. You can contact your Cooperative Extension office (ph# 704-788-6130) to inquire about soil tests. You might also try another variety, just to see if that could be a factor -- the extension office can tell you which varieties grow best in your region. Best of luck with next season's crop!
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