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By Amy Grant
Where does black pepper come from? Can you grow your own black pepper plants? Find out the answer, including other information about peppercorn plants in the following article.
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O.K. You've nursed those seeds through the germination stage and the fragile seedling stage. They are growing fine and you're ready to move to the next step, moving them outdoors. There are 2 key stages ahead the "Hardening Off" and the actual "Transplant" stage. Keep in mind it will all be worth it. The selection of plants available from most nurseries, discount stores and grocery stores is meager at best. To get started, try watching a short video of 6 easy steps on how to transplant your pepper plants:
For a more detailed process, try watching my video Growing Hot Peppers 101.
By starting your own seeds indoors you open yourself up to an endless selection of Peppers. Literally hundreds of varieties! Anyway the most crucial step is the next one.
This is absolutely KEY. Gardening is mostly common sense. Keep in mind your plants have been in a controlled indoor climate. Probably between 65 and 70 degrees with no wind and partial sunshine through a sunny windowsill in most cases. These are not the conditions outdoors where these tender plants will have 30 degree swings in temperature, direct sunlight and some windy conditions. Not to worry . just let them adapt GRADUALLY.
I recommend bringing them outdoors the first day for 1/2 hour in just partial sunlight in an area protected by the wind. Some gardeners start out even simpler than this by opening the window where plants are growing a few inches for an hour, then two, then three hours per day. After your plants are outdoors for 1/2 hour somewhat protected increase the time daily to 1 hour, 2, 3, 4, leading up to 8 hours per day. Then leave them out overnight for a full day.
As the amount of hours increase you can gradually expose them to more direct sunlight and some wind. Keep in mind the soil will dry faster outdoors due to sun and wind so water more frequently outdoors. The soil in containers will dry faster than your actual actual garden will. This entire process takes about 2 weeks. If there is a thunderstorm or high winds..obviously skip that day. Again your primary objective is to let your plants acclimate gradually to the new outdoor environment.
You are just about there now. Your plants are adjusted to being outdoors and you're moving them to their permanent home. The key now is:
To prepare the soil I like to mix into the hole a healthy shovelful of sand (most peppers originated in a tropical climate..besides sand allows the roots to aerate) and a shovelful of composted cow manure or compost. This will continually feed your plants throughout the growing season. When transplanting to the garden, put 1 teaspoon of sulfur into the hold first. Handle the roots gingerly and place into hole about 1" above the established root line so that more of the plant is underground than when in pots.
Peppers will grow additional roots from the stem that is now underground. This will "anchor" the plant better and it will grow stockier. Immediately water the plants well at the soil level. It's best to do your transplants at early evening so that they are not immediately in full sunlight.
Watch the transplants closely the first week. If the weather is real hot they'll need more water. If plants start to wilt slightly water them right away. Occasionally I've had to partially shade them if the weather was real hot with a temporary cardboard shelter.
If you are looking to up your gardening game, check out our growing supplies that you can use to maximize your yields and make the most out of your grow. If you're looking for an indoor growing kit, a grow tent from Gorilla Grow will help take your operation to the next level. Not only that, you need some good grow lights and fertilizers to keep your thriving plants nourished and healthy!
prefer to give my plants a watering with fish emulsion every 2 weeks. On the alternate weeks I'll spray them with 2 tbs. of epsom salt per quart of water top give them a magnesium shot-in-the-arm. But any commercial type of plant food will work if you are not an organic gardener.
I also prefer mulch to keep the soil moist. My preference is grass clippings. I apply it around the stem about 2 weeks after transplanting. You can actually make your garden maintenance free by picking up grass clippings throughout the neighborhood and spreading a 6" layer of mulch into the whole garden. If you're organic just check with the homeowner to see if he uses chemicals. Actually I seek out imperfect lawns with some weeds to be safe.
Want to expand your growing list? Don't forget to look into our huge selection of pepper seeds and live pepper plants. From the hottest to the sweetest, we got the perfect pepper for you.
Black pepper is the most commonly used spice in the world and, paired with salt, is found on most tables in the U.S. The plant that it comes from, common pepper (Piper nigrum), has been cultivated in India for more than 2,000 years for culinary uses. Today, most pepper is imported from India, Sumatra, Japan, Borneo, and the Philippines. Pepper enthusiasts believe that Malabar produces the best pepper.
Pepper isn’t grown commercially in the U.S. This perennial vine is hardy only in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 11b through 12, and thrives in moist, humid conditions. Few U.S. locales provide the necessary growing requirements.
However, you can grow peppercorns at home with a little extra patience. In addition to its culinary value, pepper makes a lovely houseplant or landscaping plant with its glossy, evergreen leaves and large flowers. Learn how to plant and grow your own peppercorns.
Peppercorn seeds are widely available through online nurseries. Prior to planting the seeds, soak them overnight to soften the seed coats. Plant the seeds ¼ inch deep in a rich, well-draining potting mix. Space the seeds three inches apart. Spray the seed tray frequently with a mister to keep the starting mix moist and cover the seed tray with plastic wrap. Store it in a warm location, such as the top of the refrigerator or on top of a radiator.
Peppercorn seeds can take up to thirty days to germinate at temperatures between seventy-five and eighty-five degrees. At lower temperatures, they germinate slowly or not at all.
Once the seeds germinate, seedlings can be replanted when they stand four to six inches tall. If you live in a very warm climate, plant them directly outdoors in a protected location with partial shade. The plants need rich, moist, well-draining soil and warm, humid conditions. Peppers can’t tolerate temperatures below sixty degrees. Bring plants indoors or wrap them in a blanket if colder weather threatens.
In other parts of the country, plant peppercorns in large pots. Grow them outdoors during the summer and move them indoors during the winter, or grow them year-round in a conservatory or greenhouse. Houseplants need bright light and consistent moisture. Spray the foliage regularly with a bottle of water to increase humidity. Don’t allow room temperatures to fall below sixty degrees.
Pepper plants have long, vigorous vines and can reach twelve to fifteen feet high. The plants need a strong trellis or structure to scramble over. Indoors, you can install a trellis in a large pot or even grow them as a hanging plant instead.
Peppers need moderately fertile soil to perform well. Fertilize them in the spring before new vigorous growth emerges with a balanced organic fertilizer like Protogrow™ and augmented with a mineral solution like SeaMazing. Fertilize outdoor vines according to package directions. Indoors, Protogrow™ and SeaMazing are viable fertilizer options as well. Because nutrients leach more quickly out of potted soil than regular garden soil, fertilize houseplants every three to four weeks during the growing season. Water houseplants more frequently, as well.
Growth will slow somewhat during the winter as temperatures cool. Continue to water the plants occasionally to keep the soil slightly moist.
For most gardeners, the biggest challenge is simply providing enough heat and humidity for these tender plants. Peppers have few insect pests. Outdoors, flea beetles or pepper weevils might bother young plants. The damage is rarely severe, although an application of rotenone can dispatch the pests. Indoors, you might notice aphids on the undersides of the leaves. Try spraying the leaves with a steady stream of water or applying an insecticidal soap or oil.
Root rots can afflict pepper plants, but they are easily prevented by providing well-draining soil. Amend heavy soils with compost or grow peppers in raised beds.
Peppers need a long, long growing season to produce peppercorns. Fortunately, the flowers are attractive in their own right and the foliage is glossy and evergreen. The cream, white, or yellow flowers appear from spring through summer, followed by the slow fruit production.
Peppercorns form in clusters of fruit that slowly ripen from green to red. They are usually harvested just as they reach the red stage. Once harvested, the red peppercorns are separated and dried, either in the sun or in a food dryer for about three days. The process is complete when the peppercorns are blackened and fully dry. At this point, they can be ground as black pepper.
White peppercorn is made by removing the red hull. The remaining peppercorns are then dried and ground into a mild-tasting form of pepper. Finally, green pepper is made by harvesting the peppercorns while they are still green and drying them.
A pepper plant can take three to four years to produce fruit from the time you plant the seed. Houseplants may never produce fruit.
Ground pepper can be added to almost any cooked dish, as well as certain fresh recipes. It has a pungent, sharp taste that freshens most recipes. Additionally, though, black pepper can improve digestion and reduce gas.
Ground pepper only stays fresh for about three months, but peppercorns will last indefinitely. To make the most of your harvest, store peppercorns in an airtight container in a cool, dark location. Grind them immediately before use for best flavor.
Add pepper to soups, meat dishes, or salad dressings. Combine olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and ground black pepper for a simple but elegant dipping sauce for bread.