evaporate off. This should do so in a few hours - any longer and think about spraying less.
Depending on the humidity of where you live, you should look at spraying from every day
to every few days.
Mulching can play an important part in the successful growth of peppers. It acts
in a number of different ways: it helps conserve water by preventing evaporation of water
from the soil, prevents weeds from competing with your pepper plant, prevents soil-borne
pathogens (fungi and their spores) from splashing from the soil onto the plant and helps
keep the roots nice and cool. The latter point is very important, so when mulching, make
sure to wait until the soil has had a chance to heat up before adding your mulch. In general
you should add the mulch approximately 2 weeks after transplanting. A variety of materi-
als can be used for mulching e.g. straw, dried grass, pine needles. If you use black plastic
mulch, this can be a useful strategy in colder climates to ensure the soil heats up; however,
be careful if living in warmer climates, that this may cause soil temperatures to rise further.
If black plastic mulch is used, take note that you will need to water more frequently. Clean
mulch also prevents ripened peppers from coming in contact with the soil and so lessens
the chance of spoilage.
To mulch, add to a depth of approximately 1 inch (2.5cm) with a radius of 6-7
inches (15-18cm) around the central stem. At the end of the growing season, you can
simply till the organic mulch into the soil to add further nutrients to the soil.
To ensure an excellent pepper harvest it is important to fertilize your plants.
However, care must be taken when fertilizing - over-fertilizing or using an incorrect fer-
tilizer can lead to excessive leaf growth (at the expense of fruit production) or can lead to
damage or death of the plant.
In general you should fertilize the soil a number of weeks before you plant your
peppers. If you use a commercial fertilizer use one that is low in nitrogen e.g. 5-10-10.
Fertilizers with higher levels of nitrogen e.g. 10-10-10, will lead to excessive leaf growth.
This will create a very leafy, bushy pepper plant, but one that will produce very little fruit.
Therefore you should never fertilize your peppers in the weeks following planting. Wait
until the plants start to produce blossoms before thinking of fertilizing and feeding your
plant again. Once the plant has started to produce flowers, a fertilizer rich in phosphorous
is ideal. This can be delivered via a liquid feed or through side-dressing using a granular
fertilizer. To side-dress: move the mulch away from the stem and sprinkle a small amount