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Peppers are a plant belonging to the nightshade family, such as eggplant, potato and tomato. Its scientific name, capsicum annum, comes from the Greek kapto, "Bite", alluding to the pungent properties of the fruit, in fact, among the varieties of this species we find both sweet peppers and hot peppers.
Here we go to deepen the operation of sowing peppers, referring in particular to sweet pepper. Those wishing to try their hand at spicy varieties will find on Orto Da Coltivare a guide specifically dedicated to the sowing of peppers, even if it is the same species among the very spicy varieties there are plants that have particular climatic needs and therefore a slightly different sowing period compared to the sweet pepper.
So let's see how and when to sow the pepper, a cultivation that can give great satisfaction, repaying its needs in the field, even producing 2 kg of fruit per plant.
When to sow peppers
The pepper plant is often described as a "chilly" species, in fact it does not tolerate too cold temperatures. In the field it is necessary to wait until the minimum temperatures are stably above 15 ° degrees, even at nightand, during the day it is better for the thermometer to reach 25 degrees.
To get a better harvest it is worthwhile to anticipate the times and sow in the seedbed.
In much of Italy, waiting for these outside temperatures means being too late: the ideal would be to have the plants already formed by April May, so that they can produce all summer. Therefore it is advisable to evaluate a protected sowing, which allows to speed up the times.
The protected seedbed can simply consist of a structure with transparent sheets or glass, which exploits the greenhouse effect, or it can have a warm bed, that is, soil, manure and compost which, decomposing, ferment, increasing the temperature of the earth. We can also raise the temperatures with the help of a simple heating mat or special cables, as better explained in the guide to heating the seedbed.
The right moon phase
There is no definite evidence of the effects of lunar cycles on crops, we know that this is an ancient tradition widespread in many agricultural cultures around the world and carried on for centuries. We can therefore freely choose whether or not to follow these ancient traditions. THE peppers are a fruit vegetable so if you want to follow the phases of the moon, sowing must be done on a growing moon, a period that is said to be favorable to the aerial part of the plant, including the production of flowers and then of fruit. If you sow in the waning phase we will see the plants grow the same and we will still harvest excellent peppers, however it is said that in the growing moon the plant gives better results.
How to sow
The pepper seed is quite small in size, in fact in 1 gram we find about 150, this means that if we sow in the field we must prepare a well-leveled seedbed, while to put it in a jar we must use very refined soil. In both cases, care must be taken to place it at a shallow depth.
The germination duration of the seed is 4-5 years, but as it ages the seed dries up more and its outer integument becomes harder and harder. In practice, the older a seed is, the easier it is for it not to germinate. A useful trick to facilitate germination is to take a bath in pre-sowing chamomile infusion.
The sowing operation itself is trivial, it is simply a matter of placing the seed under a light layer of earth, as already mentioned the pepper is sown shallow: approximately from 5 to 10 millimeters deep. What makes the difference are the precautions before and after sowing: first in working the soil, then in controlling the temperature, which must be between 20 and 30 degrees, and in constant irrigation but never in excessive doses.
Sprouting times vary according to weather conditions, but in general the pepper takes at least 12-15 days to pop. Considering that not all seeds will be born, it is better to put three or four seeds in each jar (or in each stall if sown in the field), in order to be sure that something is born, we can thin out later.
Peppers require soils that are very rich in nutrients, especially magnesium and calcium; a basic fertilization before sowing is strongly recommended, as well as a deep dig to promote water drainage.
The preferred soil for peppers is of medium texture, neither too sandy nor clayey, the important thing is that it is rich in organic matter useful for nourishing the plant. It is advisable to work the soil starting from the previous autumn, where possible, otherwise at least one week before sowing or transplanting.
Transplant the peppers
If we have sown in seedbeds, we will simply proceed with the transplant about a month after transplanting, or in any case when the climate is suitable for welcoming the plant outdoors. To transplant it is usually expected that the seedling in the pot has reached 15 cm in height, emitting at least 4-5 leaflets, but it is essential, as previously mentioned, to also wait for the external temperatures to be mild. Let's remember to check the night ones too.
If the climate is not yet optimal, we can help ourselves with non-woven fabric covers or even with a mini greenhouse such as this model, these measures make us gain some degrees. Alternatively, if we have sown too soon we will have to perform one repatching, that is, to move the overgrown plant for its small container into a larger jar, before the final transplant in the field.
Peppers are a demanding plant in terms of space and nutrients. For this you need to space the plants at least 50 cm between them. Between the rows instead we leave 70/80 cm, to be able to pass comfortably.
If we have chosen to sow directly in the field, we will not modify the sixth of the plant, but in each hole about one cm deep we will insert 3-4 seeds from which we will then select the most fit plant.
Choose the best cultivar to sow
Let's take a step back now: before sowing we must identify the variety of peppers we prefer, based above all on our taste or cultivation needs. If there are typical local varieties of our area it is certainly worth privileging them, not for parochialism, but because over the years the farmers have probably selected them among the most suitable for the soil and climatic characteristics of the territory. Furthermore often the ancient varieties turn out to be the best for organic farming, proving to be resistant to pathologies and parasites, while the genetic selection in the laboratory carried out by multinational seeds often requires the use of chemical pesticides.
But of course, the choice must first be guided our tastes and it is worth experimenting with different varieties in search of the best pepper.
Here is a list of the main pepper cultivars that can be sown in the field. You can find an in-depth study on some of these in the post dedicated to which peppers to plant.
- Marconi: this pepper is particularly heavy, with an elongated shape.
- Asti red pepper: one of the most popular varieties, thanks to its square and large shape, with thick pulp and an excellent flavor.
- California Wonder: pepper recommended for its robust and rustic characteristics and for its particular productivity.
- Red bull horn: this variety is also one of the most productive, with fruits that resemble the shape of a horn and can exceed 20 cm in length.
- Asti yellow: variety of sweet pepper with large fruit.
- Magnum and Magnigold Peppers: the first red, the second intense yellow, this fruit has a square section, elongated and of excellent size.
- Jolly Red and Jolly Yellow: classic varieties of sweet pepper with large fruit.
- Ox horn yellow: ancient variety of excellent size and elongated shape. From unripe it is green to change to yellow when ripened.
- Yellow pepper from Cuneo or Piedmontese Tricorno: this variety of pepper is particularly loved for its digestibility and for the simplicity of removing the peel after cooking.
- Nostrano Mantovano: this variety is green in color and is also appreciated for the digestibility of its fruits.