y Wina Garrett, Master Gardener
The year of 2020 has been a real challenge for growing vegetables in Odessa and Midland. From day after day of temperatures over 100 in August to the coldest high of 53 degrees in early September. Usually our advice is “Just keep those pepper and tomato plants alive until fall, and you will have a bumper crop until the first freeze around mid-November.”
But of course, not in 2020. After more record high temperatures in mid-October, we had a very early freeze. The last week of October brought us record lows as well as a little snow. Not much hope for those pepper and tomato plants.
This year I tried something new. Peppers are perennials and will grow year after year if kept from freezing. The day before the freeze, I dug my 4 bell peppers plants and one jalapeno plant and put them in containers in my greenhouse. I also pulled my tomato plants that were loaded with green tomatoes and hung them upside down in my greenhouse. I have a fairly small greenhouse so for heat I hung a heat lamp that is used for baby chicks from the ceiling. They are available at most feed stores and have a red light that puts out enough heat to keep it above freezing. It worked well for me, and I did not have to worry about a heater.
The pepper plants all look good and the tomatoes are ripening. The pepper plants could also be planted in containers and put in a sunny area of your house if you have room. I had a bell pepper that I kept alive in a container for 3 years but I plan to plant these outside in the ground in the spring.
If you have questions, please call the AgriLife office in Odessa at 498-4071 or in Midland at 686-4700 for more gardening information. Additional information is available at https://aggie-horticulture.tamu.edu and westtexasgardening.org