Debbie Roland, Master Gardener
Peppers are a warm season crop that grow well in West Texas. Eat them raw or cooked, as a snack, added to soups and casseroles or stuffed with your favorite mixture. Two hot pepper plants and four sweet peppers will feed a family of four.
Plant in well drained soil in an area that will receive at least six hours of sunlight every day. Several weeks before planting work the soil and break up any large clods. When you work your garden soil it should be dry enough that it does not stick to your garden tools. Turn in large amounts of organic matter like compost, peat moss, rotted hay
Because so few plants are required for a family, it is recommended that transplants be used rather than seeds. Make the holes 3 to 4 inches deep and about 1½ feet apart in the row. Space the rows at least 3 feet apart. Before planting, fill the holes with water and let it soak in. Place about 2 level tablespoons of fertilizer in the planting area. Mix it well with the surrounding soil.
It is best to transplant peppers in the evening or on a cloudy day. This will keep the plants from drying out too much and wilting. Remove the plants carefully from the container and set them in the transplant holes. Leave as much soil as possible around the roots. Fill the hole with soil and pack it loosely around the plant. Do not cover the roots deeper than the original soil ball.
Water the plants enough to keep them from wilting. Slow, deep watering helps the root system grow strong. Do not let pepper plants wilt because this will reduce yield and quality of the fruit
After the first fruit begins to enlarge, place about 2 tablespoons of fertilizer around each plant about 6 inches from the stem. Water the plant after adding the fertilizer. This will increase the yield and the quality of the peppers.
If you pick the peppers as they mature, the yields will be greater. The first peppers should be ready 8 to 10 weeks after planting. Pick bell peppers when they become shiny, firm, and dark green.
Resource: Dr. Joseph Masabni, Assistant Professor and Extension Horticulturist, The Texas A&M University
Please contact the AgriLife office in Odessa at 498-4071 or in Midland at 686-4700 for more gardening information.