How To Grow An Organic Garden

Growing Organic Peppers


If you're growing peppers this year in your garden, it's best to note a couple basic facts. First, whether you're growing sweet peppers (also referred to as bell peppers) or  if you're growing hot peppers, the growing instructions are essentially the same for either type of pepper.

Second, if you're growing your peppers from seed, you'll have way more variety choices than if you purchase pepper starts from a garden center.


When planting peppers in Northern climates its a very good idea to get an early start, so we typically plant our peppers indoors under grow lights around 2 months before our last frost. This will produce better results due to the longer growing season for your peppers.

It's the best practice to grow your peppers in an area with full sun. Shade or partial shade will hurt your plants' productivity as well as the flavor of your peppers.


Add plenty of compost to your soil. Manure may also be necessary but be careful not to create excessive nitrogen. Peppers are sensitive and the resulting factor will be outstanding foliage with less than normal production in fruit.


Both sweet peppers (often referred to as bell peppers) and hot peppers follow the same rules of care. If you want your seeds to germinate optimally, soil temperatures should be in the 75F-85°F (optimum 85°F). If you've purchased seeds, they'll usually last for up to two years if stored in a cool, dry location.


Soaking your pepper seeds before planting will accelerate germination. Soak seeds in a glass a few hours or until seeds sink to the bottom.

Some gardeners recommend planting your seeds in individual peat pots to avoid disturbing the roots; we prefer planting our peppers in flats as moisture levels are easier to control.

You’ll want to transplant one time only indoors due to the sensitivity of the root system.

Plant three seeds per pot (or cell) and once two true leaves have developed, see which plant is the strongest. Clip the other two at ground level.

During germination, make certain your peppers are in a sunny, warm location. These plants need at least 5 hours of sunlight per day.

Once the third true leaf develops, peppers can handle night temperatures of

55°F. The lower temperature will increase flower and fruit production.

PLANTING & GROWING (Planting seeds directly into the garden)

Pepper plants can be transplanted to the garden when night temperatures dip no lower than 60°F and plants are 4-6” in height (around 2-3 weeks after frost).

In cooler climates, pre-warm soil with a black plastic covering, then mulch to both maintain warmth and moisture.

A two week “hardening off” period (moving your plants outdoors during the daytime) will keep your plants from any climatic shock upon being planted in your garden.

If possible, transplant to your garden on a cloudy day or provide temporary shade to prevent scorching.

Space plants close together, (12" to 15” apart- hot peppers need less space than sweet peppers). Peppers like to “hold hands” with the touching of foliage, this helps support the plants and prevents sun scald.

Pull weeds close to the plant carefully by hand.

Finally, peppers respond well to periodic watering with compost tea and foliar sprays. Jenny's Tip: We were introduced to a liquid organic leaf spray fertilizer called Organic Garden Miracle™ this last year that helped us grow lots of sweet and hot peppers. We think you'd love this product and should check it out...they've got a great warranty!


Growing peppers need moist conditions for germination and through the growing season.  Your watering should be consistent and even. Allowing the soil to dry out can change the flavor of your peppers.


Keep peppers away from where tomatoes and eggplant previously grew. These plants are related to the nightshade family and are prone to the same diseases.


As soon as your peppers are ready to use and before they are ripe, pick a few. This will signal the plant to produce more fruit. Pick individual peppers as they ripen through the season.


Here at On the Green Farms, we like to store our peppers by either freezing or drying. To freeze, simply wash the peppers, cut up into desired pieces or slices, removing the inner core and seeds. Place in Zip-loc bags and store in the freezer.

To dry, follow the same instructions for washing and cutting then lay pieces, not touching, on dehydrator drying racks. Be certain the meaty pieces are dry all the way through. Drying usually takes 24 hours.


To protect growing peppers from cutworms, place a cardboard collar around the base of each stem and push it at least 1” into the ground.

Hand-picking is a good option for pest like the pepper weevil. It feasts on the blossoms causing deformed and discolored fruit and also for adult pepper maggots that feed on the insides of the fruit causing the pepper to rot and drop off. A floating row cover will also minimize insect populations.

Serious infestations call for more drastic measures and can be controlled with Pyrethrins, a natural organic compound derived from the Chrysanthemum that acts as a lethal internal poison to most insects.

Planting your peppers in a different location each planting cycle is your best defense against most pepper diseases.