Chili peppers are a commonly used vegetable that adds a warm to a fiery burn to recipes that include soups, stews, casseroles, Mexican dishes, and more. If you enjoy eating these long, thin vegetables, then you know that the best chili peppers are the freshest ones. And, in order to get them fresh, the best way is to harvest them right from your very own garden!
You can either start your chili pepper garden from plants or from seeds. No matter which one you choose to plant, either source needs to be planted about a foot and a half apart in a prepared area. The ground must be loosened up and be free from weeds, rocks, and debris. The area must also receive plenty of direct sunlight.
And, if Mother Nature doesn’t do her part to provide enough rain, then you’ll need to keep your seeds or plants properly watered with a garden hose.
Most garden plants are subject to being nibbled by various predators, and pepper plants are no exception. As your chili pepper plants grow into vines and produce their spicy vegetables, you may have a problem with the birds. Chili peppers contain a substance called Capsaicin.
This is what gives them their fiery burn. However, birds can eat peppers without being affected by the effects of Capsaicin. So, to help keep the birds away from your peppers, you can loosely hang a netting above the plants.
You may have a problem with insects, grubs, and worms feeding on your chili peppers too. To solve this problem, there are several varieties of insect repellents on the market today. Just make sure that you choose one that’s designed to protect chili pepper plants from its tiny predators.
Normally, chili peppers reach their maturity after seventy-five to ninety days in the garden. If you’re going to use the seeds inside the vegetables to grow more plants, then you’ll have to leave the peppers on the vine for a bit longer than normal. Wait for the chili peppers to reach their full color, then wait another week or two before you harvest them. That way, the seeds will have reached their complete maturity.
After you retrieve the seeds, the remainder of the peppers can be used however you wish. You can use them in recipes, can them, dry them, or grind them up in a food processor to make chili powder.
Otherwise, if you’re going to just eat your produce, then you’ll need to harvest the chili peppers based on your personal taste. The longer the peppers stay on the vine, the more mature they become. And, the more mature they are, the hotter they are. So, if you want a milder tasting pepper that has less of a bite, you’ll need to harvest them before they reach their complete maturity.
If you’re not sure when this will be time-wise, then you’ll need to wait until the peppers start to turn from their green color. Harvest a few and check their flavor. If the taste is suitable, then you’ll know you can pick the rest of the chili peppers when they reach that stage.
If the vegetables you picked weren’t quite hot enough for you, then you’ll know to wait a few more days and try again. You’ll need to keep trying chili peppers at different stages of their growth until their taste suits you.
Finally, when you harvest your crop, you can carefully snap each pepper from its vine. Or, you can use a pair of sharp garden shears to cut the vine an inch or so above each pepper.
You might also want to wear a pair of rubber gloves when you’re picking the peppers. The gloves will protect your hands from any juice that might leak out of the vegetables.