Spring Peppers | indoorsalad
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Spring Peppers

17 week carmen peppers ripeningMy favorite indoor/outdoor vegetable growing opportunity: sweet peppers!

I mentioned this indoor/outdoor growing trick in my book. The idea is simple – just grow bigger transplants. Rather than set out a 6" tall, 6 week old pepper plant in May, instead grow a full-sized pepper plant indoors, with fruit already on board, and put that outdoors in May – or whenever it's warm enough in your area. Use the free sunlight for the rest of the season.

Why? Because peppers take forever to grow. It's about 4 months from seed to the first red ripe carmen pepper, my favorite variety. My 1" mini bell peppers are only a week faster. If I plant out the normal-sized transplant, at the normal time – voila! First harvest in August. They'll die of frost by October, giving only 2 months of harvest. In contrast, my indoor/outdoor pepper last year yielded from April to October. Three times the harvesting months means three times the harvest.

Early carmen :

  • 47 peppers harvested, April to October, from one plant

Seasonal carmen :

  • 42 peppers harvested, August to October, from three plants – only 14 per plant

To harvest in April, I needed to start the plant in December, and give it enough light to ripen fruit indoors. This year I'm doing three batches. I have one carmen pepper started back on December 1, and two other varieties started in late January. The January ones probably won't harvest until they're out decorating the driveway. But they'll still produce months before the in-season peppers, which I'll start indoors around April 1.

The pepper plant makes a good room-mate. It's not huge. My favorites only grow about 28" tall (70cm). They don't need ridiculous amounts of light – 2 or 3 light bulbs will do, or a sunny south-facing window. So it's not a major imposition in your living space. And they're pretty. I think peppers are the most beautiful vegetable plant around, with huge deep green, glossy heart-shaped leaves, white star flowers, and jewel-bright fruit.

Diseases? Not many. Peppers do get aphids, but you can hose them off when you put them outdoors. All around, it's about the easiest vegetable to grow. Except that it takes so long.

Other big contenders for indoor/outdoor growing are tomato and eggplant. I haven't given up hope – there is the right tomato for this somewhere. I just haven't found it yet. Fairy tale eggplant work well. But they're about a month and a half faster than peppers, anyway.

I highly recommend the indoor/outdoor pepper. Try it!


Indoor Salad: the Sequel

I'm considering writing a sequel to my book. Or maybe a series of small sequels, later to be put together as an omnibus volume. Some ideas:

  • Indoor Salad - How Not to Grow Pests Indoors

  • Indoor Salad - Taking it Outside / the Balcony Companion / title needs work

  • Indoor Salad - Preserving the Harvest

  • Indoor Salad - Growing Flowers Indoors

  • Indoor Salad - Growing Vegetables Indoors for Kids

  • Indoor Salad - Growing Vegetables with the Aerogarden

Any feedback on those ideas, or suggestions on what else you'd want to see? Please share in the comments, or by email!

What's Growing Now?

Still harvesting greens and cucumbers, and now eggplant as well. Still waiting on the tomatoes. Earliest pepper has set fruit.

What are you growing now?