Best Fertilizer For Pepper Gardening
Peppers are a sensitive plant. They like warm, but not too hot, weather, a long growing season, and just the right amount of additional nutrients to boost the soil.
To maximize your pepper crop, it is important to properly fertilize and keep an eye on the plants as they grow so you can adjust their environment as needed. Peppers prefer a well-drained soil in full sun with ready and frequent watering. The soil also benefits from being amended to provide the best nutrients. Peppers can be fertilized with manure, compost or a commercial fertilizer. Whichever one you choose, it is important to make sure you have the correct balance.
Fertilization of the garden bed before you plant is very important to ensure adequate nourishment to the new plants. There are several options when it comes to fertilizing.
Most garden centers carry bags of commercial fertilizer marked with a three number code. This code indicates the percentages of nitrogen, phosphate and potassium in that particular bag of fertilizer. For peppers, it is best to use a 5-10-10 blend. Using too much nitrogen, although the plants will love it, will produce a lot of foliage and not as much fruit. Higher percentages of phosphate and potassium will coax larger, more bountiful peppers while the lower nitrogen will help the plant grow without negatively affecting the fruit.
If you choose to fertilize with compost or manure, just be certain it doesn't contain too much nitrogen.
Alternately, instead of treating the entire garden bed with fertilizer, you can also mix a small handful of compost, or a teaspoon of the commercial fertilizer with a bit of soil and place it into the bottom of the hole before you plant. Cover the fertilizer with 1-2 inches of additional soil and then plant as normal. This method gives each plant a concentrated dose of nutrients while also protecting the roots from coming into direct contact with the fertilizer and getting burned.
After the peppers have been transplanted, it is good practice to side-dress them with additional fertilizer at 4 weeks and 8 weeks. Side-dressing is applying the fertilizer without letting it touch the actual plants.
The fertilizer should be applied 4-6 inches away from the base of the plants to prevent burning of the foliage. The best way to do this is to dig an one (1”) inch trench along either side of the row of peppers. Add the compost, manure or balanced fertilizer you have chosen in a line through the trench. Cover the trench with soil and water the plants and ground afterwards to ensure the fertilizer is absorbed.
When the plants begin to fruit, it shouldn't be necessary to apply any more fertilizer, unless you see the plants are struggling and have poor foliage growth. If poor foliage growth is a problem, you can apply a side-dress of 10-10-10 fertilizer. The additional nitrogen will help the plants grow properly without negatively affecting the fruit too harshly.
Providing your pepper plants with the appropriate nutrients when they need them will have you picking a superb harvest. Peppers may be sensitive but they are by no means impossible with these simple considerations.