As we hit mid July and the heat in the Willamette valley starts to go up we look at my little garden. Some has done surprisingly well for how early it is still. The corn is mammoth for how early it is. I always remember my Grandfather saying that knee high by the 4th of July was the goal. Mine was 6 feet tall by then. The only thing that is not doing well is my cannary melon. It is barely growning. But it looks nice and healthy just very small.
An essential part to my sisters favorite cheese, peppers are easy to grow but hard to get a large amount of peppers from a single plant in Oregon. There are several things that you can do to increase how well your plants do. Peppers thrive in heat. Though many Oregon regions lack a true hot climate, peppers can be successfully grown in our state with a little extra care. Just take your time and add the simple things that can boost production.
May is too late to start peppers successfully from seed, but transplants are readily available from garden centers in May and June. To grow peppers from seed you need to start in February or March. Plant pepper transplants after all danger of frost is past and the night temperatures stay above 55 degrees – sometime after May 1 in most parts of Oregon. Pepper plants thrive in warm, well-drained fertile soil. You can plant them up to as deep as the first true leaves. The plants should be placed between 18 to 36 inches apart.
things you can do to help your peppers grow:
- Cover the soil around the plants with black plastic to help the sun warm the soil.
- Grow peppers under cover for the first few weeks. Plant them under a cloche. Or surround each pepper plant with a round wire cage wrapped in clear plastic, to form a miniature heat-storing greenhouse. The cage should be about two feet tall. Leave the top open. Later on, in about July, when the plants are good-sized, remove the cloche cover or plastic from the wire frame. ( I don’t do this normally. I have burned the plants when I remove the plastic from them)
- Select short season pepper varieties
For the willamete valley there are several varieties that can be easily grown in our shorter summers. this list is from the Oregon state extension recommended varieties
- (sweet, bell, green to red) Parks Early Thickset, Camelot, Fat ‘N Sassy, Ace, Bellboy, Jupiter, Yankee Bell, North Star, Parks Whopper Improved, Vidi, Elisa, Lady Bell, Bell Tower, King Arthur.
- (sweet bell, green to yellow) Golden Bell, Golden Summer, Labrador.
- (sweet bell, green to orange) Ariane, Corona.
- (sweet bell, green to purple) Lilac Bell, Purple Beauty.
- (sweet bell, green to lavender to red) Islander.
- (sweet bell, ivory to red) Snow White.
- (specialty sweet types) Sweet Banana, Banana Supreme, Gypsy, Biscayne, Red Bull’s Horn, Pizza, Lipstick.
- (sweet cherry) Euro Jumbo Sweet Cherry.
- (novelty, ornamental) Marbles, Riot, Ivory, Varengata. Riot and Marbles, 10 to 12-inch tall hot pepper plants are both developed by Jim Baggett, OSU professor emeritus of horticulture. These small pepper varieties can be grown in the garden or in pots on sunny patios, window planters or porches.
- (mildly hot) Anaheim TMR 23, Fajita Bell, Paprika Supreme. These thin-skinned Anaheim, Pasilla and Poblano or Ancho types are traditionally roasted and skinned before use.
- (hot) Serrano, Volcano, Super Cayenne II, Tam Jalapeno.
Since I can’t stand the flavor of bell peppers I went for my normal Ancho peppers and a pack of banana wax peppers. I am thinking of adding a couple serrano peppers to my garden to give a little bit more spice to my peppered cheeses. The Ancho’s are great in cheese but low on heat.