Agriculture Reference
In-Depth Information
When starting out on your pepper adventure, the first thing you must decide is
whether you wish to grow your plants starting from seed, or from a seedling. Starting from
seed obviously will take a little more work, however when you decide to start growing will
also dictate your choice i.e. plants must be grown outside after the last frost of the spring
has passed, which means that if growing from seed, you should plant your seeds approx-
imately 7-9 weeks before the last frost. Given the long growing time needed for a pepper
plant, coupled with the length of time needed for seeds to produce seedlings, if you start too
late in the season you may find that you simply have no choice but to start from seedlings.
There are pros and cons for both seeds and seedlings. The main advantage of grow-
ing from seed is the large selection of varieties to choose from, with excess seed able to
be stored until the following year. You will find a range of online vendors, with your local
garden center also having a good supply. Buying seedlings of course removes you from the
early growing stages, watching the seeds germinate etc., however removes any uncertainty
regarding the quality of the seed and whether it will germinate. The drawback is that there
is typically a smaller range of seedling varieties available, dictated by what your garden
center and online retailer have growing currently. No matter what option you choose, I re-
commend that you buy a few different varieties. Given the huge range of peppers available
(colors, heat, shape, ornamentals) this allows you to really add some color and diversity to
your garden, while also allowing you to see what pepper varieties are best suited to your
garden and climate. This section discusses the purchase of both seeds and seedlings.
When leafing through a seed catalogue for the first time, you may be a little over-
come at the nomenclature and abbreviations used. Seeds can be classified as Heirloom or
Hybrid. Heirloom varieties are those where the seed has been collected, grown and handed
down through many generations. These varieties are often termed open pollinated, or ab-
breviated as OP. This means that the seeds collected from the parent plant will produce a
daughter plant with identical characteristics. A hybrid variety is one which has been formed
as a result of targeted breeding between different plants to give a resulting hybrid plant
which has beneficial attributes, for example resistance to disease. Hybrids are often indic-
ated as F1or F2. Therefore if you grow heirloom peppers, you should be able to collect the
seeds to grow an identical pepper plant the following year. As hybrids are formed by the
cross of two different parent plants, the only way that the identical plant will be formed is
if these two parent varieties are again cross-fertilized. It is important to note that peppers
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