ChilePlants.com Logo
My Account     |      Shopping Cart   
ChilePlants.com! Google+ Facebook
  About Us     |      How To Order     |      Grow How     |      Help
  Skip Navigation Links


Search
 
Search Tips

Newsletter
E-mail:

Grow-How

Planting Instructions

Review, download or print our Planting Instructions here.

What to Do When You Receive Your Chile Plants

If your order arrives in poor condition, first, please accept our apologies. We strive to ensure safe arrival of our plants. Notification about orders that arrive damaged must be made within 72 hours of receipt, by email, with a photo.
We have much experience shipping and can give good advice if we can see the plants.
PLEASE KEEP ALL PACKAGING MATERIAL as it shows packer information. Damaged boxes may be inspected by UPS.

Remove the plants COMPLETELY from the packaging, and remove ALL cardboard pieces. Do not leave in the box!
Move them to a bright but cool spot to acclimate back into the sun. If the soil is moist, Do Not water. If the soil is dry, just give the pot 1-2 Tablespoons of water. This would be a great time to add seaweed to the water, 1-2 Tablespoons per gallon. Allow the water to drench through the pot, and wait at least 3 to 4 hours before adding more water. Always let plants dry before adding more water.

Allow plants a few days to acclimate to their new climate after their travel in a dark box. Take a couple/few days, increasing the sun each day until the plants can handle all day sun. Do Not keep indoors for more than one day!
Keep an eye on watering, but don't always keep the pots wet; allow pots to dry between waterings. This makes a stronger plant. If they get too dry and begin to wilt, give the pot 2 Tablespoons of water. Wait at least 3 to 4 hours before adding more water. If the pots get too wet, use a pencil or a nail to scratch the surface, or gently poke a few holes into the soil, to allow air to enter.

If in doubt about watering, DON'T !! ... never ever over-water.

When and How to Transplant Your Plants

If your plants have arrived looking very stressed, wait a few more days until they stabilize before transplanting. Be sure that night temps will stay above 55-60 degrees for peppers, 50-55 degrees for tomatoes. Young plants do poorly with cold nights.

Locate your garden in a well-drained sunny area, and work organic matter into the soil. If you are in a region where summer temps are very high, try to locate your plants where they will receive some late afternoon shade. Transplant on a cloudy day, or in the evening hours when the sun is not so strong. At the nursery, we soak in a fish emulsion and seaweed solution for 5 minutes immediately prior to planting, and then do not water after planting. Dig a hole larger and deeper than the root ball of the plant you will be transplanting. Gently open the bottom of the root ball so that all roots extend downward, and plant at the same depth as in the pot.Tomatoes can be planted as deep as possible - remove all leaves that will be below soil line. If you have soaked your plants, do not water after. The plants are already wet. Use excess on other plants.

Remove all buds, flowers and fruits until you see that the plant has put on good strong growth, or for at least 2 weeks. This may seem crazy to do, but doing so will give you a larger plant just loaded with fruit, versus a small plant with only a few fruits. Remember to lay down a 5inch layer of mulch.

To get a jump on the season, or if you cannot plant out right a way, up-pot your plants up into slightly larger 4 inch diameter pot using a regular potting mix (we Do Not recommend Miracle Gro). We soak in a fish emulsion and seaweed solution immediatley prior to planting, and then do not water after planting. We open the roots and set at the same level as in the other pot, and cover with soil. Topdress with our Organic Granular fertilizer, using 1 teaspoon per 4 inch container, around the edge of the pot and buried just slightly. We grow out for 2 weeks, then up-pot into a 6 inch container, doing the fish/seaweed soak and this time using 1 Tablepoon of Organic Granular fertilizer per 6 inch container, topdressed around the edge and buried just slightly. When safe to plant out, we have a larger and stronger plant, that will begin harvesting earlier than if we planted a small plant out.

When and How to Water Your Chile Plants

After transplanting, the plants will need to have consistent soil moisture to nourish them as they start making new roots into their new environment. Keep soil moist but never saturate the soil. Remember, if in doubt about watering, DO NOT.

For the first few weeks, keep a keen eye on your plants. A 5inch layer of mulch is essential to keep the roots cool and moist, and from heating and drying out from the sun. Use straw, or hay on sections of newspaper. To test the soil moisture, dig below the mulch and feel the soil a few inches below the surface. Only water if dry. Water in the morning, and never in the heat of the day. Water the soil, not the leaves. Do Not water every day! Water as little as possible.

At the nursery, with 5 inch mulch, we do not water all summer! Mulch makes for happy plants.

When and How to Fertilize Your Chile Plants

We use organic fertilizers on all of our plants. While a plant will uptake and utilize an organic fertilizer the same as an inorganic fertilizer, your soil certainly will know the difference. Organic fertilizers promote the good bacteria and soil microorganisms, which are essential for good plant health. They encourage earthworms and other soil organisms, which are good at aerating and loosening the soil. Inorganic fertilizers do not do this, but instead, damage the soil.

Granular Organic fertilizer is best for peppers and eggplants, and for incredible production on everything. Recommended.
Fish and Kelp is fish emulsion, best for baby plants, and soaking prior to transplanting.
Kelp and Fish #3 is kelp (seaweed) and is best especially for tomatoes, and ALL plants, to keep healthy.

For the first 3 weeks, fertilize every week to promote good root growth, and then once/month with liquids; and once every 6-8 weeks with granular. Fish emulsion is high in nitrogen and promotes strong growth and good deep green leaf color. Seaweed is high in potassium, and promotes good root growth. As well, seaweed is full of many micronutrients, a sort of "multivitamin" for plants, and helps combat the stresses that plants are subjected to, such as heat, drought, and insect attack. We always use organic granular fertilizer, which offers longer-term nutrition. This is especially necessary for container-grown plants, and for those growing in northern latitudes. We find that the Granular Organic fertilizer increases our yields tremendously.

The key factor for an abundant harvest is proper fertilization.

Next: On Receipt of Our Plants >

On Receipt of Our Plants


My Plants Arrived and Look Great. What Do I Do?

Do Not Water! Read our Planting Instructions and our Top 5 Planting Mistakes.

Acclimate the plants from a dark box to your sunny garden over the course of 2-3 days. Do not plant same day.


My Plants Arrived and Look Wilted. What Do I Do?

Move the plants into a cool, bright but shady spot to recover. Look and feel the soil to see if dry, or wet.

If the soil is dry and the pot is light, the plants need water.
Plants benefit from being dry side for short periods of time, so always allow to dry between waterings.
Add 2-3 Tablespoons of water to each pot. Wait at least 3 to 4 hours to see if the plants have recovered, before adding more, and then just 2-3 Tablespoons at a time. This is a good time to add 1-2 Tablespoons of Kelp per gallon of water.

If plant arrives looking fully wilted and soil is wet, do not water, but email us a photo instead. That plant may need replacing.


My Plants Arrived And Some Lower Leaves are Yellow. What Happened?

Yellow or pale leaves are not a disease nor a pest, and all is fine. We grow organically, fertilizing once every 7-10 days. An older Hungarian grower taught us that if you grow a plant from seed very slowly, the plant will be a much better producer and bear a larger crop. This is the method that we use.

We are not interested in having the greenest plants on the block, but instead, plants that will perform well once they get into your garden, and produce abundantly. Our plants do that! Plants that are constantly fed fertilizer will perform poorly if that constant feed is not continued. Sure you can grow a plant quickly that way, and make it super green, but those plants will not produce as much harvest.

Most growers put growth retardants on tomatoes to keep them short. Being organic, we don't. To keep tomatoes short, we keep cool and withhold water and fertilizer. That can make some of the lower leaves turn pale or even yellow. Once these plants are planted out with fertilizer like normal, they will green up and make tons of new leaves. For tomatoes, you will remove the lower leaves to plant deep anyhow - but do not remove any leaves until ready to plant.

Plants also continue to grow while in transit, but because they are in the box in the dark, the new growth may look pale or yellow. Tomatoes often pale-out completely. Once they get into the sun, they will capture the light and will green up again.


I Am Not Ready To Plant My Plants Right Away. What Do I Do?

Plants can remain in their pots for a period of time. Allow pots to dry between waterings. Young plants hate staying wet.
If to be planted within a few days, put in a spot where they receive some sun, but not in an overly hot and dry spot.

If the plants will not be planted for more than a week, or to get a jump on the season it's best to up-pot your plants:

  • Choose a pot only 1-2 inches bigger. Don't put a small plant into a large pot. We recommend a 4 inch diameter pot.
    Use a regular potting mix (we Do Not recommend Miracle Gro Potting Mix).
    Soak plants in fish emulsion/seaweed solution for 5 minutes immediately prior to planting (2 Tbl each Fish and Kelp#3 per gallon water), but then do not water after planting. They are already wet. Use excess on other plants.
    Open roots and set at same soil level, and cover with potting soil. Tomatoes only can be planted deep. Remove buried leaves.
    Topdress with our Organic Granular fertilizer, using 1 teaspoon per 4 inch container, around the edge of the pot and buried just slightly. We grow out for 2 weeks.

  • Then up-pot into a 6 inch container, again doing the fish/seaweed soak and again do not water after planting.
    This time use 1 Tablepoon of Organic Granular fertilizer per 6 inch container, topdressed around the edge and buried just slightly. We grow out for 3 weeks.

  • When safe to plant out, we have a larger/stronger plant, that will begin producing earlier/better than if planted out small.
    Again do fish/seaweed soak and again do not water after planting. Roots are wet. Use excess on other plants.
    For this large plant, use 1/2+ cup of Organic Granular fertilizer topdressed at the dripline of the plant (which is the outside edge of the leaves, making a circle on the ground) and buried slightly. Cover the soil with a thick 5 inch layer of a grass mulch like hay or straw.

  • Growing Peppers Successfully

    When and How Do I Transplant My Pepper Plants?

    Plant when night temperatures stay above 55 degrees (60 degrees better for habaneros and SuperHots).
    Peppers will perform poorly if they get cold at night; any 40s is detrimental.

    Plant in the evening, or on a cloudy day. Pick a spot that receives lots of sun, is well-drained, and has good air circulation.
    In regions with high summer temps, locate plants where they will receive shade from hot late afternoon sun.

    At the nursery, we soak the roots/soil/pot with a solution of 2 Tablespoons each of fish emulsion and seaweed for 5 minutes and plant immediately.Then, no more water. The plants are already wet. Use excess soaking liquid on other plants.

    Dig a hole bigger than the size of pot. Roots prefer loose soil. Make a cone shaped mound at the bottom of the hole.

    Remove plant from pot by gently squeezing the sides and bottom. Put your fingers on top of soil, with the stem between your fingers. Turn the pot over, and gently tap the bottom of the pot; the entire plant and root ball should slide out easily.

    With a knife or your fingers, cut an "X" approx.1 inch deep in the bottom of the root ball. Turn the plant stem side up, and gently extend the 4 "legs" down, so that all the roots are now pointing down.

    Place the transplant into the hole straddling the cone shaped mound of soil, with the legs pointing in 4 directions (North, East, South and West).

    Backfill. Gently pat down the soil

    Ring plants with Granular Organic fertilizer and scratch in.

    Cover soil with a thick 5 inch layer of a grass type mulch like straw. Or hay on top of sections of newspaper. By using mulch you will not need to water. Weeds won’t grow. Plants are happy. You're done!


    How Do I Get The Soil Ready For Planting?

    Healthy plants need healthy soil. The extra effort put into preparing the soil will be repaid handsomely with extra health and yield of the plant.

    For a new garden, dig at least 12 inches deep and add lots of organic matter. This includes compost, shredded dried leaves, peat moss and dehydrated cow manure. Don't skimp on the organic matter.

    For existing gardens, do not plant peppers (and/or tomatoes and/or eggplants) in the same spot more than once every 3 years. This lessens the chance of your plants becoming susceptible to disease.

    If planting in the same location every year, you must add lots of organic matter to your garden every year, more than the amount of production that you took from your garden the year before. Don't skimp on organic matter.

    Extremely helpful is our Granular Organic fertilizer, which will add essential nutrients to your garden and make up for any soil deficiencies. 


    How Far Apart Should I Plant My Pepper Plants?

    Plant peppers 18-24 inches apart with rows 18-36 inches apart. Plant in a staggered formation.

    Spacing will vary depending on the ultimate height of the plants. Shorter, compact plants can be planted closer than taller plants. Taller varieties need more spacing for good air flow.

     

    When and How Do I Fertilize My Pepper Plants?

    We use organic fertilizers on all of our plants.

    Organic fertilizers promote the good bacteria and soil microorganisms which are essential for good plant health. They encourage earthworms and other soil organisms which are good at aerating and loosening the soil. They make soils better and better each year! This is the way to grow.

    Inorganic fertilizers damage the soil, contribute to nitrogen runoff which pollutes our rivers, as well as repel the good organisms which we need for healthy soils. Stick with organic fertilizers!

    Granular Organic fertilizer is the best for pepper production. It is a dry product that offers longer term nutrition, and especially helpful in wet seasons. To facilitate increased production, transplants need solid food to encourage rapid but strong growth. We LOVE it.

    Seaweed aka Kelp#3 is wonderful for all plants, to keep them healthy. Use 2 Tablespoons per gallon of water, once a week for 3 weeks ( the 1st application is the soak immediatley prior to planting), then monthly. Seaweed is full of many micronutrients, a sort of multivitamin for plants. It also helps combat the stresses that plants are subjected to, such as heat, drought, and insect attack. It is wonderful stuff!

    Granular Organic fertilizer is especially necessary for container grown plants that are watered more frequently, leaching away nutrition. We topdress this fertilizer (4 Tablespoons per plant) at the dripline of the plant in our planting beds and in our larger containers, and find that it increases our yields tremendously.

    We also use Granular Organic fertilizer while up-potting to get the plants larger quicker. Info about up-potting.

    The key factor for an abundant harvest is proper fertilization.


    What Pepper Plants Would Do Best In My Area?

    Most peppers will do well in most areas of the country. Know the length of your season.
    Peppers that require an Extremely Late Growing Season (120+ days) may not produce well in northern areas.

    Extreme northern areas with short growing seasons need Early Season varieties = varieties that produce in the shortest amount of time. In short growing season areas it is important to push your plants by using Granular Organic fertilizer to make them grow, grow, grow!

    In areas where summer are extremely hot however, with day temps normally over 90 degrees, peppers may stop producing. Include varieties in these areas that are Early Season (60-70 days) or Mid Season (70-80 days), so that they produce a crop before the temps get too high and production stops.

    In extremely hot areas it is best to located the garden where the plants will receive shade from the hot late afternoon sun, to help keep the night air temps cooler. Another alternative is to plant later in the season, so that you will get a late season crop. If temps stay above freezing, plants will overwinter and start producing early the next season.


    When Is The Best Time To Plant Pepper In My Area?

    Plant peppers when night temps will stay above 55 degrees and the ground is warm.
    Plant tropical varieties like SuperHots, Habaneros, Very/Extremely Late Season, when nights are above 60 degrees.

    Young plants thrive on warm soil, especially at night, when they grow. Young plants hate being cold. They catch a chill that stresses them and makes them more susceptible to disease. Planting too early will produce very unsatisfactory results. this will actually lose you time to harvest, as the plants are set back and may become "stunted" which means that they don't die but they don't grow. Never plant early.

    See our Safe Planting Date Map to know when to plant. Never plant early. Nights above 55 degrees.

    To warm your soil, place black or clear plastic down where your garden will be, a few weeks before planting, to allow the sun to heat up the soil. Not necessary, but helpful.

    If you need to hold for more than a week or so, up-pot the plants into a slightly larger 4-6 inch pot using potting soil (we DO NOT recommend Miracle Gro Potting Mix), and keep dry. If they will remain in these larger pots for more than 2-3 weeks, fertilize with low levels of organic fertilizer weekly.


     

    What Size Container Is The Best To Get Good Production?

    5 gallon minimum, 10-15 gallon preferred for decent production.
    Rule of thumb... the larger the pod, the larger the pot. For example while small fruiting varieties like ornamentals do well in a small 1-2 gallon pot, a large fruiting variety like a bell needs a very large pot.

    Never plant a small plant directly into a large pot. A small plant has small roots and few leaves. If planted into a large pot, and that pot gets soaked by rain/hose, the dry potting mix will get drenched. A small plant will have a hard time transpiring away all that moisture, and will grow very slowly, or may even drown. Up-potting is extra work but it encourages a larger root system and ultimately a stronger, larger plant.

  • First up-pot into a slightly larger 4 inch diameter pot using a regular potting mix (we Do Not recommend Miracle Gro Potting Mix as it produces tall lush foliage and little fruit). We always soak our plants in a fish emulsion and seaweed solution immediately prior to planting, and then do not water after planting. We open the roots and set at the same soil level, and cover with potting soil. Topdress with our Organic Granular fertilizer, using 1 teaspoon per 4 inch container, around the edge of the pot and buried just slightly. We grow out for 2 weeks.

  • Then up-pot into a 6 inch container, doing the fish/seaweed soak and this time using 1 Tablepoon of Organic Granular fertilizer per 6 inch container, topdressed around the edge and buried just slightly. We grow out for 3 weeks.
  • When safe to plant out, we have a larger and stronger plant, that will begin harvesting earlier than if we planted out a small plant. We then use 1/2+ cup of Organic Granular fertilizer topdressed at the dripline of the plant (which is the outside edge of the leaves, making a circle on the ground). We then cover the soil with a thick 5 inch layer of a grass mulch like hay or straw.

  • How Can I get More Production From My Pepper Plants?

    Wait until the night air is above 55 degress, 60 degrees better, before planting out.

    Up-pot earlier, to have a larger plant to plant out. Up-pot into a 4 inch pot to start, then a 6 inch pot. Keep in lots of light.

    Fertilize with Organic Granular fertilizer.

    Water as little as possible. Every time you water, say goodbye to fertilizer, as it is leached away. Hungry plants don't produce.

    Use a 5 inch layer of a grass-type mulch like straw, and don't water. Check water by digging down 5-6 inches and feeling.

    Cut them back. Many Pepper Plants will benefit from being cut back, especially Chiltepines, Habaneros and Rocotos. This will make the plant branch/bush, making more stems, and more braches, for more fruit. You will cut the plant in half... ie. 8 inches cut to 4 inches. Make a clean cut just above a node. When you cut back, you will also cut back on watering since foliage will be removed. Cutting back may delay harvest by a week or two, but you will be repaid handsomely with extra harvest.

    Fresh Chiles

    When and How Do I Pick My Fresh Chiles?

    Chiles change in color, flavor and heat level during their growth. While some have a "green" flavor when used in their immature stage, others have a milder flavor better suited for many uses. Some chiles are best eaten in their green stage, Serranos for example are usually used for salsas when green, versus red and mature. Another example is that chiles to be pickled are best picked before they reach their mature size and color, so that they will stay crispy. We recommend picking chiles at all stages of maturity to taste and test! Depending on what the ultimate use will be, the "best" time to pick will vary considerably. Also remember that generally, the more mature the chile, the stronger the flavor and heat level.

    To remove the chile pods from the plant, most folks just lift the pod and snap the fruit's stem against the growing angle. While this is a usually a quick way to harvest fruit, be careful that the branch does not snap in the wrong place, and that the whole branch is broken off, not just the fruit. A safer technique is to use garden scissors or clippers to cut the fruit's stem from the branch. Cut the fruit's stem as close to the growing branch as possible.

    When Are The Chiles Ready To Be Picked?

    Chiles can be picked and eaten at all stages of maturity. Many are usually eaten at the green stage (Serranos for example) while other are usually allowed to ripen before eating (Habaneros for example). While some may have a "green flavor" when eaten at an immature stage, sometimes the flavor is too strong when the fruit is fully mature, and will overpower the other flavors in a recipe. Chiles to be pickled are usually picked before the have reached their mature flavor and color, so that they will stay crispy and crunchy after pickling.

    Try eating chiles at all stages of maturity, to see which taste is that you prefer for whatever use you might be wanting. Always taste a small portion at first however, as even though they might be immature, they can still be incredibly hot!

    What Do I Do With These Chiles?

    There are so many things!
    First get a good book or two!
    Fried, roasted, pickled, salsas, sauces, chutneys, powdered....and more.
    Do some experimenting and have fun!!

    Extending Your Season

    Can Peppers Be Grown In Containers?

    For those folks without sunny ground for a garden, there is an alternative - grow your chiles in containers! Container growing is relatively easy and fun, as long as the plants receive a good deal of sunshine and fresh air, and have the correct size container. Choose the final growing cotainer based on the comparative size of the pepper plant, i.e.. a smaller pot for smaller, compact plants, and a larger pot for those pepper plants or pods that grow large, have very fleshy fruits, and/or are needing higher production. The rule of thumb for decent production is to grow in a pot no smaller than 5 gallons. 5 Gallon buckets can be used, and the handles make moving the pots easier. A 10 to 15 gallon pot is even better for greater production in containers. The exception is with some of the ornamental varieties which can be grown in smaller one gallon pots, but will produce a smaller plant. You can also grow in half whiskey barrels, with 3 plants per barrel, spaced equally and slightly towards the edges.

    It is best to up-pot a small plant into a slightly larger container first, to become larger before putting into a large pot. Putting a small plant into a large container will take longer to grow, as well as being much easier to stunt/kill by overwatering. We up-pot our 2.5 inch pots into a 4 inch pot at first, top-dressed with 1 teaspoon of our Organic Granular Fertilizer, and grow for a few weeks. We then up-pot into a 6 inch pot, top-dressed with 1 Tablespoon of our Organic Granular Fertilizer and grow out another few weeks, before up-potting into the final planting container.

    If a 5 gallon bucket is not the look that you are looking for, try to find a pretty pot that is either plastic or glazed pottery. While a terra cotta pot looks pretty, the unglazed surface loses lots of water to evaporation, and you will be constantly watering with less than satisfactory results. If you simply must use a terra cotta pot, try planting the chile in another pot and then placing that pot inside the terra cotta pot. Or buy a non toxic glaze and cover the inside of the terra cotta pot so that it will retain moisture. Use a good quality potting soil found at most garden centers, not just dirt from outside, which will have many weed seeds and will compact and get hard. Remember that plants grown in containers will need extra fertilizer to keep healthy and productive.

    How Can I Extend My Growing Season?

    Chiles like to be transplanted into warm soil. Planting too early will produce very unsatisfactory results, and will actually lose you time to harvest, as the plants are set back. To warm the soil earlier, place black or clear plastic down where your garden will be, a few weeks before planting to heat up the soil. The "walls of water" are also reported to be good at getting plants established earlier. If night temps are expected in getting below 50 degrees, cover your plants with either a larger pot turned upside down, or with "floating row cover", also known as Reemay, or with simply a bed sheet. If possible cover the plants in the late afternoon, to capture some heat within. Uncover in the morning when temps rise above 50 degrees.

    To get a jump on the season, or if you cannot plant out right a way, up-pot your plants up into slightly larger 4 inch diameter pot using a regular potting mix (we Do Not recommend Miracle Gro as it produces tall lush foliage and little fruit.) We soak in a fish emulsion and seaweed solution immediatley prior to planting, and then do not water after planting. We open the roots and set at the same level as in the other pot, and cover with soil. Topdress with our Organic Granular fertilizer, using 1 teaspoon per 4 inch container, around the edge of the pot and buried just slightly. We grow out for 2 weeks, then up-pot into a 6 inch container, doing the fish/seawwed soak and this time using 1 Tablepoon of Organic Granular fertilizer per 6 inch container, topdressed around the edge and buried just slightly. When safe to plant out, we have a larger and stronger plant, that will begin harvesting earlier than if we planted a small plant out.

    At the end of the season, as Jack Frost is looming, covering the plants nightly with the "floating row cover" (Reemay) or bed sheets. Again, try to cover in the late afternoon to capture some heat within. Watering or foliar feeding with seaweed also helps offer some frost protection.

    Another great way to extend your growing season is by…

    Can I Bring Chile Plants Indoors For Winter?

    You can easily get a few extra months of fresh chiles by bringing your chile/pepper plants indoors. If they have been growing in pots, the transfer to the indoors is quick and simple. If they have been growing in the garden, there is a bit more work involved, but you will be repaid handsomely with fresh chiles in November!! First decide which chile plant you would like to transplant, and water it or fertilize it a few days beforehand, so that it is fresh and strong for it's journey inside. Choose one that has many buds and/or immature fruit, and is not too terribly large. Usually a smaller plant will transplant better than a larger one. Find a pot that will be big enough to handle the plant that you will be digging up A five gallon bucket will work great. Dig the plant with as large a root ball as possible, so to disturb as few roots as possible. Place into the pot, and fill the empty spaces with extra soil. Water well. Now, give the plants a haircut! Since you have cut off some of the roots, you will have to cut off the same amount of top growth so that the plant is balanced above and below the soil line. Trim the branches back a bit, or selectively cut off some branches while leaving others intact. The one very important tip is to keep an eye on pests.

    Bugs love to come indoors, especially aphids. They can be easily controlled with Insecticidal Soap. Use 4 Tablespoons per gallon of water, mixed in a sprayer or squirt bottle. Spray at the first sign of bugs, covering the plant foliage, both tops and undersides of the leaves, and never in full sun. Make sure the plant is well hydrated before spraying. Spray once every 3 to 4 days, for 3-4 applications, to be sure that you catch them all. If just one aphid is left on the plant, you will have an army of aphids in just a matter of days. keep a good eye out!

    Can I Grow Chiles Indoors?

    Yes. Give lots of light. Place the chile plants near a sunny or bright window, but not where it is drafty. Even better is to place them under grow lights, that are on for 16 hours a day, and off 8 hours (plants need to sleep too!!) The closer the lights to the plant the better, but don't let the leaves touch the lights. Plants can be placed outside on warm days, but returned inside if temperatures are expected to go below 50 degrees. Slowly acclimate them to the sun and other outdoor elements if they have been indoors for an extended period. Do this by putting them outside for short periods, in a slightly shady spot at first, then gradually increase the amount of time and amount of sun that they received.

    Water sparingly. Chile plants prefer to be on the dry side. Water lightly when the soil appears quite dry, but remember, DO NOT OVER-WATER! It is okay for the plants to get a bit dry, they might even begin to wilt. Water lightly at first, checking again in a few hours to see if they have revived. Water the soil, not the leaves.

    The chile plants may go through a "dormancy" in winter and may drop leaves or look a little bare. Give the plants a haircut! Trim stems back an inch or more to give a nice compact shape. Also cut back a bit on watering.

    In the spring, slowly begin to increase watering as you see new leaves emerging. If possible, transplant your plant into a larger container, using fresh potting soil. Start with low levels of organic fertilizer, increasing doses as the plant grows.

    Give the plants a shake every week! Flowers need to be pollinated in order for fruits to form. Indoors, the chiles can self-pollinate by having the pollen fall into it's own flower. Carefully give a gentle shake!

    Harvest fruit at the stage that is most preferred for taste or use. Sample the fruits at all colors of maturation to test the different levels of heat produced. Always taste a small portion at first, as chiles can be extremely hot!

    How Do I Bring Chiles Outdoors After Being Inside All Winter?

    After being inside all winter, many plants aren't looking so good. But don't despair, with a little TLC they will be growing by leaps and bounds, and will be producing fruit much earlier than newer, younger transplants.

    Start by trimming back branches to give a nice compact shape, onto which new branches will grow. This spring haircut can be quite severe if your plant is large. Make sure you leave at least ten nodes where new growth will push out. You can give a symetrical haircut, or you can remove whole branches, or both. Imagine how the plant will look with new growth branching out above the cut. Don't cut too high (the plants will be top heavy) or too low (leave at least a handful of nodes). A rough guide is to cut the plants leaving 1/4 to 1/3 of the plant remaining. We cut our plants back to approx 6 to 9 inches high, depending on the variety. Fruit will be produced on new growth only. Since you have removed lots of foliage, you will need to water less, as there are fewer leaves to transpire moisture away. You will see new growth begin to push out from the nodes. Start fertilizing a few weeks before the move ouside, with organic fertilizer, to get your plant strong for the move. At first bring the plants outside for short periods of time, to slowly acclimate them to the outdoors. Try to not have them outside during the sunniest, hottest part of the day for the first few trips outside. Morning sun is less strong and is perfect to start.

    If the plants will remain in their pots, remove as much soil as possible without disturbing too many roots, and replace with fresh new potting mix. Since the new potting mix will probably have nutrients, you won't need to fertilize for a couple of weeks. After that, fertilize with organic fertilizers once a week for 3 weeks, then monthly.

    If you will be planting your winter house-bound chile plant back into the garden, wait until the ground and air have warmed up, before transplanting. Have your hole dug and ready to go before tipping the plant out of its pot, and be sure to tamp down the soil after planting. We soak our plants in liquid fertilizers , immediately prior to planting for 5-10 minutes,and then once a week for 2 more weeks, then monthly.

    Pest & Disease Problems

    My Plants Always Seem To Be Dry. What Do I Do?

    Make sure that you are using mulch. A 3" layer of mulch helps the plants conserve moisture by shading the ground and keeping it cool. Mulch keeps the soil from drying out so quickly on warm summer days, and it also keeps weeds from growing around your plants, stealing precious moisture and nutrients. Some types of mulches include chopped leaves, straw, hay, shredded bark, wood chips, dried grass clippings and even newspapers!

    Water deeply and infrequently versus frequently and shallow. This encourages roots to go deeper, searching for moisture rather than staying on the surface where they will get heated and dried.

    My Fruits Have Sunken Areas at the Blossom End.
    What Do I Do?

    This is called "Blossom End Rot" and is a condition caused by a calcium deficiency, but is usually found on plants in a drought condition or with inconsistent watering. Taking control of watering and moisture levels can often solve the problem. Place a mulch down to help keep moisture levels consistent, and be sure to water deeply and infrequently versus frequently and shallow. Also try spraying plants with seaweed. Often plants grown in containers will suffer from this condition. Use a mulch, or try planting the chile plant into a larger container.

    My Chiles Are Cracking. What Do I Do?

    This is a condition also caused by inconsistent watering. Often this will occur after a heavy rain following a dry spell. While there is not much that can be done once they have cracked, a good prevention is to keep your plants consistently moist by using a good mulch, and watering deeply. To help dry out soil that has gotten saturated, take a pencil and poke down a few inches around the plant, a few inches out from the stem so as to not injure roots, in rings around the soil area. This will allow air to penetrate into the soil and return the media to its proper air/water ratio.

    Another condition which causes cracking of chiles is a condition known as "corking". Most frequently found on Jalapeño type chiles, this is quite common, and has no adverse effects on flavor. Actually in Mexico, chiles highly streaked with corking are highly desirable.

     

    I Have Small Greenish Bugs On My Plants. What Do I Do?

    Sounds like Aphids. Also known as "plant lice", aphids are found in every part of the country. They are probably the most common pest to attack young transplants. Aphids reproduce like crazy, as females do not need males in order to reproduce!

    • Outdoors: Ladybugs are wonderful predators of aphids and will probably keep them under control on plants grown outside, once the weather has warmed up a bit. For low levels of aphids, knock them down with a strong spray of water. For higher populations, use Insecticidal Soap. They key for success is doing multiple successive sprayings.

    • Indoors: Bugs love to come indoors, especially aphids. They can be easily controlled with Insecticidal Soap. They key for success is doing multiple successive sprayings. Spray your plants once or twice before you bring them in, and then another 1-2 times indoors. The shower makes a good spray-down location.

    • Insecticidal Soap Instructions: Use 4 Tablespoons per gallon of water, mixed in a sprayer or squirt bottle. Spray at the first sign of bugs. Cover the plant foliage, both tops and especially undersides of the leaves. Never spray in full sun. Fully cover the plant, but don't go crazy and keep the plant saturated for long periods. The key to success is doing multiple sprayings - Spray once every 3 to 4 days, for 3-4 applications, or as needed. Soft bodied pests will be killed upon contact with the soap, but the soap must touch them, there is no residual effect. Spraying multiple successive times ensures that you get them all!! Insecticidal Soap can be purchased either in a ready-to-use spray, or a concentrate

    • Seaweed is a good "multi-vitamin" remedy and is not a favorite of aphids, nor any sucking or rasping pest. Seaweed raises the sugar level (or "brix") of the leaf, which pests simply hate. Use it alone as a drench, spray or add a bit to the soap mixture (1 Tablespoon Seaweed per 1 Gallon of Soap solution). Seaweed keeps plants strong, and helps relieve any stress that the plants may be under.

    • Pests are attracted to "weaker" plants, those that are malnourished or are under some sort of stress. Be sure that your feeding regime is adequate. Our plants LOVE the Organic Fertilizers that we use!

    For higher levels of aphids, or for folks that always seem to have a pest problem, beneficial insects might be the answer. We use them exclusively for pest control at our Nursery. These are insects which occur naturally, but might have been killed off by the use of synthetic pesticides (while synthetic insecticides do kill the "bad guys", it also kills a lot of the "good guys" and unfortunately the "good guys" take much longer to bounce back than the "bad guys". My recommendation is NEVER to start with synthetic pesticides, as it sets up problems all along the way). Some great beneficials for aphids include Ladybugs, Lacewing larvae, Aphidoletes, and Aphidius.

    I Have White Bugs Flying Around My Plants.
    What Do I Do?

    Sounds like Whiteflies. While they may be somewhat controlled with Insecticidal Soap, the best solution here is for the use of Encarsia formosa, a Whitefly parasite. These are tiny wasps that attack only whiteflies, by either eating the scales or laying eggs in the scales. The parasites are shipped inside whitefly scales that are attached to cards, which you hang among the infected plants.

    At first whitefly sign, we set out 1 card of Encarsia formosa per 3 square feet, every week for 3-4 weeks. For greater numbers of whitefly use 1 card per square foot. For best results you need to make consecutive weekly releases to get the parasite established. This is not a cheap quick-fix solution, but once you have Encarsia established they will continue to reproduce and keep your plants Whitefly free.

    Something Is Eating My Chile Plants. What Do I Do?

    First step is to determine whether the attacker is animal or insect.

    Deer and rabbits eat the leaves off of plants, with deer occasionally ripping the plants completely out of the ground. Rabbits tend to eat lower leaves of plants, with deer nibbling the tops. They usually do not eat the chile pods however.

    Insects would include caterpillars and hornworms. Their droppings are small (approx 1/16th of an inch) which at times is the only way to tell, because they become camouflaged with the plants.

    Fencing is a good way to keep deer and rabbits out of your garden. Sometimes just wire or string strategically placed can discourage them from entering. For deer, place lines at 6", 12" and 24". For rabbits, place lines at 3", 6" and 12". While this might not completely solve the problem, it has worked for some, and is a good first "line" of defense! The plastic mesh type of fence is a more permanent measure, works well, and is pleasing to the eye - it practically disappears from view. Just be sure to secure it well to the ground as deer would prefer to scoot under than jump over.

    Deer and rabbits have keen senses of smell, and other means of deterring them is to put down items which carry a human smell. Human hair is one approach. Get some from your local hairdresser, and put it into bags made from pantyhose, and tie around your plants. This might need to be replaced after heavy rains, to keep the human smell strong. Some folks have reported good luck with using fragrant soaps tied in bags around their plants. Others try the more natural approach, by urinating around the perimeter of their garden! Since it is a readily available commodity, and the price is right, it might work for you.

    Other "brews" which might work include mixtures of egg, fish, and dried blood. Being vegetarians, any animal based product is undesirable to them. Repeat applications would be necessary after rains.

    For caterpillars and hornworms, try the simplest solution of finding and removing them. Be very carefully of the horn of hornworms, it is very sharp and can sting badly! These are nasty critters and can completely strip your plants of leaves in a matter of days. Bt, a natural bacteria, works well to rid plants of caterpillars, and is harmless to other insects or people. It is a powder mixed with water and sprayed on the leaves of the plant. It takes a few days to work, while the caterpillars ingest the bacteria. Do not spray if the caterpillars are covered with small, white, rice looking projections, as these are parasitic wasp cocoons and are highly beneficial at attacking and killing hornworms!!

    My Plants Are Turning Yellow. What Do I Do?

    This could either be a nutrient deficiency, or more likely, the plants are being overwatered. Overwatering leaches nutrition from the soil, and it stresses the plants by being too wet. Plants need a lot less water than we think. Try fertilizing with fish emulsion and seaweed.

    My plants are very tall with beautiful green foliage but no flowers or peppers. Why?

    Sounds like too much nitrogen. When the plants are small and young, you want to fertilize regularly so that they get off to a strong start, but once the plants have reached a good size, you want to cut back on the fertilizer applications. We tend to hear this complaint often from users of non-organic fertilizers such as Miracle Gro. Rarely do we hear this complaint from folks who use fish emulsion and seaweed, which we recommend highly. We like to fertilize once a week for the first 3 weeks, then once every three weeks thereafter. When the plants have reached full size you may stop applying fish emulsion, but continue with the seaweed. If the plants start yellowing give an application of fish emulsion to green them up.

    My plants have barely grown since I put them in the ground in early spring. Why?

    Sounds like they were put out too early, and they have been stunted. Chiles like to have warm feet, and will do very poorly if planted too early. While most folks look  at the calendar to decide when to plant, you need to look at the night temperatures instead. Plant out when night temperatures are consistently above 50 to 55 degrees. It is better to plant out three weeks late than one week early! If you have plants that were stunted by the cold, it will take the summer's heat to pull them out of it.

    My plants have grown only a little since I put them in the ground and have only produced a few fruits. Why?

    When planting out your transplants, be sure to pull off all buds, flowers and fruit that are on the small plant, and continue to do so until your plants have at least doubled or tripled in size. Plants are either in vegetative mode, or fruiting mode -you want them to be in vegetative mode until they are good sized, before you allow them to be in fruiting mode. If you allow them to fruit when they are small, they will remain a small plant with just a few fruits. If you remove all buds, flowers and fruit for approx. 3 weeks after planting, you will get a good-sized plant just loaded with fruit.

    The flowers on my pepper plant are turning yellow and falling off. Why?

    Buds will turn yellow and fall off (abort) if conditions are not right, usually due to high day or night temperatures. This will also happen if the plants are too wet or too dry, or if there is too much nitrogen in the soil. We tend to hear this complaint in the middle of the summer when temps are high and soil moisture is not consistent. Be sure to mulch you plants as this offers a layer of protection from the hot sun, and helps keep the soil moist. Generally buds will remain on the plant once temperatures cool down, especially as we go into September.

    My Chiltepines are not producing fruit and not even flowers yet. Why?
    My Habaneros are not producing fruit and not even flowers yet. Why?
    My Rocotos are not producing fruit and not even flowers yet. Why?

    Habaneros, Chiltepines and especially Rocotos are long season varieties, in that they take a long time to produce, usually more than 90 days from transplanting. Your buds are falling off (aborting) because conditions are not right, usually due to high day or night temps, inconsistent soil moisture, or high nitrogen levels. Generally however, they will remain on the plant and produce fruit once the temps cool down a bit. We find that Chiltepines do better their 2nd season. Try to overwinter them and you should have a good early harvest. The one Chiltepin we find that does well the first year is "Texas". Found growing further north where it would get killed by frost/freeze (versus many chiltepines which are found in warmer Mexico), it produces early on a compact plant. A good early season habanero type is "Limon", which produces heavily and early on a compact plant. Rocotos are found growing natively high in the mountains, and need cooler temps to be happy and produce well. Ours do not start producing heavily until November/December (in the greenhouse), so we recommend not growing Rocotos unless you have an extremely long (but cool) growing season, or you are able to bring them indoors for winter. We also find that Rocotos do much better if there are a few Rocoto plants, planted close together.

    The skin on my chiles is turning white in patches.
    What is this?

    Sounds like sun-scald. This happens on chiles that are not being protected by leaf cover, and the fruit is being exposed to long periods of sun, which is causing a scald of the fruit. The first way to prevent this is to get your plants to a good size before you allow them to produce. Usually fruit is held under the canopy of leaves, but small plants will not have a large canopy for the fruits to hide under! This also happens in areas that tend to have many cool and cloudy days, followed by very hot and sunny days. This sun-scald usually does not affect the flavor, but if the fruit is left on the plant, the scalded areas will develop into holes, which may then lead to rotting. We recommend removing all sun-scalded fruit to ripen indoors.

    The skin on my chiles is turning blackish purple in patches. What is this?

    Sounds like sunburn. On some chiles this sunburn is quite normal, like Purira with it's upright pods standing above the foliage. But on others it is because the leaf cover is not large enough to protect the fruit from the strong rays of the sun. Try to get your plants good sized before you allow them to fruit, so that there is good leaf cover to hide your chiles from the sun's rays. While the sunburn may look strange, it will not affect the fruit, and the chiles will mature to their normal color.

    Other Questions

    If I Plant A Hot Chile Next To A Sweet Pepper, Will The Sweet Be Hot?

    No. While many are sure that this has happened in their garden, theoretically it can not happen.

    The characteristics of shape, size, color and flavor are determined by genetics. The genetic footprint of the pepper plant is already within the plant. This genetic disposition was within the seed that was used to produce the plant, and was determined when the flower was pollinated the season before. Crosses do occur within the garden by busy bees and other insects, but this cross will only be recognized in the next generation. So if you save seeds from this year's sweet pepper plant that was grown in close proximity to a hot pepper plant, there is a chance that the pollen from the two plants have crossed, and that the seeds you have collected will next season produce a plant with a sweet pepper shape and a hot pepper taste!

    My peppers are not turning their mature color. Why?

    Sometimes it takes a long time for chiles to turn to their mature color in summer. But once late summer/early fall rolls around you will see them ripening almost overnight! When the plants are actively growing and producing many pods, their energy is in the fruiting mode, and not the maturing mode. Have patience, they will mature!

    It is best however to use the unripe pods, as picking them will stimulate the plants nto making lots more. If you leave the first fruits on the plant, the plant will not make many more. Pick and use at first, and wait til fall for the mature colored pods!

    I have a pepper plant labeled as "ornamental". Can I eat the peppers?

    All peppers are edible. Sometimes the taste of some ornamentals is not as flavorful as other peppers, often referred to as a "green" flavor, but other ornamentals are very tasty.

    Plants labeled "for ornamental use only" means that they have been sprayed with chemicals not registered for use on edible plants. Don't use for food.

    We do not use any chemicals on our plants, so ALL parts of OUR plants are safe for eating.

    My peppers are very mild, not as hot as they should be. Why?
    My peppers are very hot, not as mild as they should be. Why?

    The heat level of peppers is in direct relation with the ambient temperature and amount of water that the plant receives at pollination and as the pepper fruits are forming. Milder peppers are found on plants that had cool pollination temps, or an excess of water. Pampered plants tend to produce wimpy chiles! This will happen with plants grown in cool and wet areas, such as Washington and Maine. Plants grown in Texas and Arizona however tend to produce hotter chiles, due to the dry and hot climate.

    If you want to produce extra hot chiles, stress the plants by withholding water, even letting them wilt. Do this only on established plants, not to plants just getting started. To revive them from the wilt stage, water like normal, do not over-water at this time or you may drown the plant, and kill it.

    My Jalapenos are turning red. Why?

    While most Jalapenos are consumed in the green stage, they will turn red at maturity. As the season progresses, chiles will begin to mature more quickly, possibly quicker than you can eat them! If they are left on the plant, they will continue to ripen to their mature color.

    I pickled my peppers and they turned out mushy. Why?

    Use young, immature fruit for pickling, to ensure a crisp pod. If older and mature fruit is used, the pickled peppers will turn mushy after being processed.

    Will a chile plant survive and produce fruit if it is planted in a pot and kept inside year round?

    While you can keep a chile pepper plant in a pot, and it will survive year round, it will not continue to produce all winter long unless you provide some supplemental lighting. Bringing plants indoors is a great way to extend your harvest, but without extra hours of lighting it will not continue to produce new buds, flowers and fruits, it will only mature those pods already on the plant. Many people have great success keeping chile plants indoors, by using plant lights (grow lights) that are kept on 16 hours per day.

    Growing Tomatoes Successfully

    When and How Do I Transplant My Tomato Plants?

    Plant when night temps will stay above 55 degrees. Tomatoes can go as low as 50, but any 40s is detrimental.

    Plant in the evening, or on a cloudy day. Pick a spot that receives lots of sun, is well-drained, and has good air circulation.

    At the nursery, we soak the roots/soil/pot with a solution of fish emulsion and seaweed for 5 minutes and plant immediately. Then, no more water. The plants are already wet. Use excess soaking liquid on other plants.

    Dig a hole bigger than the size of pot. Roots prefer loose soil. Make a cone shaped mound at the bottom of the hole.

    Remove plant from pot by gently squeezing the sides and bottom. Put your fingers on top of soil, with the stem between your fingers. Turn the pot over, and gently tap the bottom of the pot; the entire plant and root ball should slide out easily.

    With a knife or your fingers, cut an "X" ~1 inch deep in the bottom of the root ball. Turn the plant stem side up, and gently extend the 4 "legs" down, so that all the roots are now pointing down.

    Place the transplant into the hole straddling the cone shaped mound of soil, with the legs pointing in 4 directions (North, East, South and West).

    Plant tomatoes as deep as you can, removing all leaves that will be below ground. Plant straight down, leaving only 6 inches of top growth above ground. Tomatoes will root along their stems, and planting deep allows access to free moisture in the cool, moist soil found down deep underground.

    Backfill. Gently pat down the soil.

    Ring plants with Granular Organic fertilizer, 3 inches from the stem, and scratch in to start the breakdown.

    Cover soil with a thick 5 inch layer of a grass type mulch like straw. Or hay on top of sections of newspaper. By using mulch you will not need to water. Weeds won’t grow. Plants are happy.

    When and How Do I Fertilize My Tomato Plants?

    We use organic fertilizers on all of our plants.

    Organic fertilizers promote the good bacteria and soil microorganisms which are essential for good plant health. They encourage earthworms and other soil organisms which are good at aerating and loosening the soil. They make soils better and better each year! This is the way to grow.

    Inorganic fertilizers damage the soil, contribute to nitrogen runoff which pollutes our rivers, as well as repel the good organisms which we need for healthy soils. Stick with organic fertilizers!

    Tomatoes are more disease prone, so we recommend using Seaweed aka Kelp#3. Use 2 Tablespoons per gallon of water, once a week for 3 weeks ( the 1st application is the soak), then monthly. Seaweed is full of many micronutrients, a sort of multivitamin for plants. It also helps combat the stresses that plants are subjected to, such as heat, drought, and insect attack. It is wonderful stuff!

    We also apply a 1/4 cup = 4 Tablespoons of Granular Organic fertilizer at planting. It will take a few weeks to hit the roots, but it provides strong growth and great production. Tomatoes are not heavy feeders, so only one application at planting is necessary. Don’t overfeed tomatoes.

    What Tomato Plants Would Do Best In My Area?

    Most tomatoes will do well in most areas of the country. Know the length of your season.

    Northern areas with short growing seasons need Early Season varieties = varieties that produce in the shortest amount of time = early in the season. In short growing season areas it is important to push your plants by using organic fertilizers to make them grow, grow, grow!

    When Is The Best Time To Plant Tomatoes In My Area?

    You want to plant tomatoes when the nighttime temps will stay above 55 degrees, and the ground is warm.

    Young plants thrive on warm soil, especially at night, when they grow. Young plants hate being cold. They catch a chill that stresses them and makes them more susceptible to disease. Tomatoes are disease prone anyhow. Planting too early will produce very unsatisfactory results, and will actually lose you time to harvest, as the plants are set back. Never plant early.

    See our Safe Planting Date Map to know when to plant. Never plant early. Nights above 55 degrees.

    To warm your soil, place black or clear plastic down where your garden will be, a few weeks before planting, to allow the sun to heat up the soil. Not necessary, but helpful.

    If you need to hold for more than a week or so, up-pot the plants into a slightly larger 4-6 inch pot using potting soil (we DO NOT recommend Miracle Gro Potting Mix), and keep dry. If they will remain in these larger pots for more than 2-3 weeks, fertilize with low levels of organic fertilizer weekly.

    How Do I Get The Soil Ready For Planting?

    Healthy plants need healthy soil. The extra effort put into preparing the soil will be repaid handsomely with extra health and yield of the plant.

    For a new garden, dig at least 12 inches deep and add lots of organic matter. This includes compost, shredded dried leaves, peat moss and dehydrated cow manure. Don't skimp on the organic matter.

    For existing gardens, do not plant tomatoes (and/or peppers and/or eggplants) in the same spot more than once every 3 years. This lessens the chance of your plants becoming susceptible to disease.

    If planting in the same location every year, you must add lots of organic matter to your garden every year, more than the amount of production that you took from your garden the year before. Don't skimp on organic matter.

    Extremely helpful is our Granular Organic fertilizer, which will add essential nutrients to your garden and make up for any soil deficiencies. 

    How Far Apart Should I Plant My Tomato Plants?

    Plant Tomato plants 36" apart, with rows 36" apart, minimally. Tomatoes love to sprawl.

    Tomatoes are tall vining plants, especially cherry tomatoes, and they need containement - stake, cage, fence or otherwise keep your plants from falling on the ground. Very important is to keep air completely circulating your plants, do not let them turn into a jungle. Remove lower leaves as the season progresses to keep air circulating.

    Never allow smokers to touch your tomato plants, as Tobacco Mosaic Virus is passed this way.

    Do not tend your tomato plants when they are wet from either rain or dew, as this can pass diseases among plants.

    To pinch or not to pinch?

    And that is a good question. We are talking about pinching out the suckers that occur between the stem and the side branches.

    We do not pinch. We feel that the more you fuss with your plants by pinching, the more open wounds you are making on your plants, and the more areas for anything funky to get inside. Plus, we usually are too busy! But many feel that pinching gives the plant more energy, and more tomatoes. We don't really know, we get lots of tomatoes without pinching.

    So the question remains. Pinch some and don't pinch others and let us know how you do.

     

     

    Growing Eggplants Successfully

    Eggplants are relatively easy to grow, but there are a few rules....

  • Eggplants do not like to be cold, at any time. Never, ever. They are almost more sensitive than chiles!
    Plant when night temperatures will stay above 60 degrees. 55 degress is ok, but not the best.
    Eggplant leaves will wilt, and look very poorly if they get cold. Heat/Sun will cure them.
  • Eggplants grow best when the soil is moist, but never wet. Not too wet, nor too dry, but moist.
  • Nasty pests like flea beetles will attack more if the ground is too dry or too hot. Be sure to mulch with a 5 inch layer of a grass-type mulch like straw to keep the soil moist and cool. Feed with Granular Organic fertilizer to grow thru the attack.
  • Eggplants are heavy feeders. They love our Granular Organic fertilizer, and will produce lots of big and beautiful eggplants. We get so many eggplants!
  • Eggplants need to be staked or caged. Especially the larger fruiting varieties.

  • When and How Do I Transplant My Eggplant Plants?

    Plant when night temperatures stay above 60 degrees for eggplants. 55 degrees is ok, but not the best.
    Eggplants will perform poorly if they get cold at night; any 40s is detrimental.

    Plant in the evening, or on a cloudy day. Pick a spot that receives lots of sun, is well-drained, and has good air circulation.
    In regions with high summer temps, locate plants where they will receive shade from hot late afternoon sun.

    At the nursery, we soak the roots/soil/pot with a solution of 2 Tablespoons each of fish emulsion and seaweed for 5 minutes and plant immediately.Then, no more water. The plants are already wet. Use excess soaking liquid on other plants.

    Dig a hole bigger than the size of pot. Roots prefer loose soil. Make a cone shaped mound at the bottom of the hole.

    Remove plant from pot by gently squeezing the sides and bottom. Put your fingers on top of soil, with the stem between your fingers. Turn the pot over, and gently tap the bottom of the pot; the entire plant and root ball should slide out easily.

    With a knife or your fingers, cut an "X" approx.1 inch deep in the bottom of the root ball. Turn the plant stem side up, and gently extend the 4 "legs" down, so that all the roots are now pointing down.

    Place the transplant into the hole straddling the cone shaped mound of soil, with the legs pointing in 4 directions (North, East, South and West).

    Backfill. Gently pat down the soil

    Ring plants with Granular Organic fertilizer and scratch in.
    Eggplants LOVE our Granular Organic fertilizer, and by using it, you will have a plethora of eggplants!

    Cover soil with a thick 5 inch layer of a grass type mulch like straw. Or hay on top of sections of newspaper. By using mulch you will not need to water. Weeds won’t grow. Plants are happy. You're done!


    When and How Do I Fertilize My Eggplant Plants?

    We use organic fertilizers on all of our plants.

    Organic fertilizers promote the good bacteria and soil microorganisms which are essential for good plant health. They encourage earthworms and other soil organisms which are good at aerating and loosening the soil. They make soils better and better each year! This is the way to grow.

    Inorganic fertilizers damage the soil, contribute to nitrogen runoff which pollutes our rivers, as well as repel the good organisms which we need for healthy soils. Stick with organic fertilizers!

    Granular Organic fertilizer is the best for eggplant production. We get soooo many!! It is a dry product that offers longer term nutrition, and especially helpful in wet seasons. To facilitate increased production, transplants need solid food to encourage rapid but strong growth. We LOVE it. The eggplants LOVE it.

    Seaweed aka Kelp#3 is wonderful for all plants, to keep them healthy. Use 2 Tablespoons per gallon of water, once a week for 3 weeks ( the 1st application is the soak immediatley prior to planting), then monthly. Seaweed is full of many micronutrients, a sort of multivitamin for plants. It also helps combat the stresses that plants are subjected to, such as heat, drought, and insect attack. It is wonderful stuff!

    Granular Organic fertilizer is wondeful for eggplants. They love it. Also necessary for container grown plants that are watered more frequently, leaching away nutrition. We topdress this fertilizer (4 Tablespoons per plant) at the dripline of the plant in our planting beds and in our larger containers, and find that it increases our yields tremendously.

    We also use Granular Organic fertilizer while up-potting to get the plants larger quicker. Info about up-potting.

    The key factor for an abundant harvest is proper fertilization.


    What Eggplant Plants Would Do Best In My Area?

    Most eggplants will do well in most areas of the country.
    In areas that have a short growing season, we recommend Early Season varieties. These are varieties that produce in the shortest amount of time, or early in the season. In short growing season areas it is very helpful to keep your plants actively growing by using organic fertilizers before, during and after planting out.


    When Is The Best Time To Plant Eggplants In My Area?

    Plant eggplants when night temps will stay above 60 degrees. Eggplants need very warm soil.

    Young plants thrive on warm soil, especially at night, when they grow. Young plants hate being cold. They catch a chill that stresses them and makes them more susceptible to disease. Planting too early will produce very unsatisfactory results. this will actually lose you time to harvest, as the plants are set back and may become "stunted" which means that they don't die but they don't grow. Never plant early.

    See our Safe Planting Date Map to know when to plant. Never plant early. Nights above 55 degrees, better 60 degrees for eggplants.

    To warm your soil, place black or clear plastic down where your garden will be, a few weeks before planting, to allow the sun to heat up the soil. Not necessary, but helpful.

    If you need to hold for more than a week or so, up-pot the plants into a slightly larger 4-6 inch pot using potting soil (we DO NOT recommend Miracle Gro Potting Mix), and keep dry. If they will remain in these larger pots for more than 2-3 weeks, fertilize with low levels of organic fertilizer weekly.


    How Do I Get The Soil Ready For Planting?

    Healthy plants need healthy soil. The extra effort put into preparing the soil will be repaid handsomely with extra health and yield of the plant.

    For a new garden, dig at least 12 inches deep and add lots of organic matter. This includes compost, shredded dried leaves, peat moss and dehydrated cow manure. Don't skimp on the organic matter.

    For existing gardens, do not plant eggplants (and/or tomatoes and/or peppers) in the same spot more than once every 3 years. This lessens the chance of your plants becoming susceptible to disease.

    If planting in the same location every year, you must add lots of organic matter to your garden every year, more than the amount of production that you took from your garden the year before. Don't skimp on organic matter.

    Extremely helpful is our Granular Organic fertilizer, which will add essential nutrients to your garden and make up for any soil deficiencies. 


    How Far Apart Should I Plant My Eggplant Plants?

    We plant our Eggplant plants 24" apart, with rows 30" apart.

    Be sure that you either stake, cage, fence or otherwise keep your plants from falling on the ground. Some eggplant varieties produce large and heavy fruit. It is important to support the plants to keep fruits from laying on the ground.

    Allow air to completely circulate your plants, and do not let them turn into a jungle. Remove lower leaves if necessary.

    Never allow smokers to touch your eggplant plants, as Tobacco Mosaic Virus is passed this way.

    Do not work around or tend your eggplant plants when they are wet from either rain or dew.

    Starting Seeds Successfully

    Start peppers 8-10 weeks, and tomatoes 5-7 weeks, before you intend to plant out in the garden.

    Use a light weight seedling mix, and a shallow tray or pot. Lightly cover seed 1/4” deep, and moisten.

    For best germination, keep day soil temperature between 80-90 degrees for peppers, 75-80 degrees for tomatoes. Use heating mats for bottom heat for peppers, not needed for tomatoes. If growing under lights, keep the lights on for 16 hours a day, off 8 hours a day. Allow the soil temp drop to 70-75 degrees at night (when lights go off). Average time for pepper germination is 7 to 21 days. Tomatoes germinate more quickly, within 10 days.

    Many varieties of pepper seeds would benefit from using SaltPetre (Potassium Nitrate). SaltPetre softens the seedcoat and is wonderful for difficult to germinate pepper varieties such as Habaneros, Chiltepines and Rocotos, as well as for older seed. Mix 1 teaspoon per quart of warm water. Soak seed for 24-48 hours, and then sow immediately.

    A humidity dome or sheet of plastic keeps soil temp and soil moisture consistent, and quickens the process of germination. Avoid letting the soil become saturated. Take off your cover/plastic for at least ten minutes every day. Allow the soil surface to dry slightly between watering, but do not allow the soil to completely dry out.

    Once your seedlings emerge, remove the cover/plastic and reduce temps to 65-70 degrees. Move to bright light.

    When your seedlings have two sets of true leaves (3rd set of leaves) you can begin to fertilize. Start half-strength at first, gradually increasing strength as the plants grow. Up-pot into a slightly larger pot.

    One week before planting your transplants outside, begin to harden them off so that they can handle the sun. Give your plants a few hours of morning sun to start, increasing the time a little more each day. Don’t rush this part. This should take about a week. Try to plant out in the evening, or on a cloudy day.

    Top 5 Planting Mistakes, and how to avoid them

    Temperature

    Most plant when night temperatures are still too cold. Night temps, not day temps. Any time in the 40s is detrimental.

    Plant when night temperatures are consistently above 55 degrees. Night temps.

    60 degrees better for habaneros, SuperHots, and eggplants. 50 degrees ok for tomatoes, but better at 55 degrees.

    Planting early with cold and/or wet conditions will stress young plants, which makes them susceptible to disease.

    If plants get chilled, stunting may occur, which is when plants don't die but they don't grow. Only warm days/nights and fertilizer will help pull a plant out of a stunt. Best way to avoid? Don't plant early.

    To get a jump on the season and/or while wating for night temps to stabalize, up-pot your plants.


    Preparation

    Most forget to add organic matter to their soil every year.

    Add lots of organic matter to your garden beds every year.

    Organic matter includes your own/municipal compost, shredded dried leaves, peat moss and animal manures. Allow fresh manures to cool before using. Don't skimp on the organic matter. Add 1-2 times what you took out of the garden. Essential. Every year. A good mix to refresh the soil.

    For a new garden, dig at least 9 inches deep and add LOTS of organic matter. Raise the height of the growing beds as much as possible, with pathways lower, to allow rains to drain off.

    For existing gardens, do not plant peppers (and/or tomatoes or eggplants) in the same spot more than once every 3 years. This lessens the chance of your plants becoming susceptible to disease. If planting in the same location every year, add even more organic matter to your garden, at least 3 times the amount of production from the garden the year before. Don't skimp on organic matter.

    Extremely helpful is our Granular Organic fertilizer, which will add essential nutrients to your garden and make up for any soil deficiencies. Production is fabulous with this product. Worms love it, we love it. You will too.

    Healthy plants need healthy soil, to keep nutrition levels up and diseases down.


    Mulch

    Most plant into bare ground, with no mulch.

    To have a happy and abundant garden, use a thick 5 inch layer of a grass-type mulch.

    Mulch keeps the ground cool and moist and protects it from the hot and drying sun. If you use mulch, watering is eliminated!

    We prefer grass-type mulches like straw or hay. Wood mulches steal nitrogen from the plants, and is not recommended.
    Hay = dried weeds, so put down sections of newspapers first (8-10 pages thick) and cover with 5 inches of hay. The thick paper stops the the weed seeds from hitting the soil and germinating. Straw usually has no weed seed.

    Leave a little breathing room around the stems of plants, don't smother or cover the plant.

    Re-train yourself about watering. To check soil moisture, lift up mulch and dig down 6 inches. If moist leave it alone. If dry, water but do not saturate. Don't judge watering in the hot sun; when it is hot, plants may wilt, which is normal.

    We use a 5 inch layer of hay mulch technique and do not water all summer. We call it lazy gardening, and we love it.


    Water

    Most problems with plants is due to overwatering. Almost all Tomato problems. Do not water our plants upon receipt!

    Allow plants in small pots to dry between waterings.

    After planting, use a grass-type mulch and water as little as possible. We don't water all summer.

    Water is the enemy of plants, and the friend of disease. Tomatoes especially.
    Use a 5 inch layer of a grass-type mulch like straw or hay and don't water.

    If you must water, keep it on the ground. Never wet foliage as this can start disease splashing around.

    Sprinklers are the worst. Never wet foliage, only the soil.
    Drip can be effective, but most run it too long or too often, which becomes problematic.

    Baby plants need more attention to watering than older plants, but always let plants dry before watering again.
    Plant roots need both air and water. Keeping plants constantly wet kills plants, by drowning.


    Fertilizer

    Most plant in the same spot every year, and don't use fertilizer.

    For an abundant harvest, you must fertilize. Without fertilizer, plants are hungry, and don't produce.

    Granular Organic fertilizer is best for peppers and eggplants, and for incredible production on everything. The best!
    Fish and Kelp is fish emulsion, best for baby plants, and soaking prior to transplanting.
    Kelp and Fish #3 is kelp (seaweed) and is best especially for tomatoes, and ALL plants, to keep healthy.

    Granular Organic fertilizer is a dry product that offers longer term nutrition.
    Fish and Kelp is high in nitrogen and promotes strong growth and good deep green leaf color.
    Kelp and Fish #3 is is a multi-vitamin for plants, and keeps them healthy. Seaweed is full of many micronutrients that help plants combat stress, such as heat, drought, and insect attack.

    We up-pot plants from a 2.5 to 4 to 6 inch pot, to get larger before planting out, using fertilizer every step of the up-potting.
    By early-mid June plants are 15 inches tall, and are planted in the fields with more Granular Organic fertilizer, when the ground and night air is warm. We begin harvesting in late August, until frost, which arrives in early-mid Oct. Happy harvesting!

    The key factor for an abundant harvest is proper fertilization.

    Next: Growing Peppers Successfully

    SSL Website Security Test