will be better able to support the resulting fruits produced. For certain bell pepper varieties,
I tend to cut out the growing tip when the plant is approximately 2 feet (60cm) high, as this
tends to result in a robust heavily yielding plant. Remember that you may need to stake or
support your plant to accommodate the ripened peppers.
Secondly I pinch out the first cluster of blossoms that appear on the plant (by pinch-
ing, this is literally placing the blossom between your thumb and forefinger and using your
thumb nail to cut the blossom off). By pruning these initial blossoms, you are diverting the
energies of the plant towards the growth and development of branches and future blossoms,
rather than on these early peppers. By doing this, you are obviously losing out on some
early peppers, however, this is a small loss as typically you will see much higher yields
The final time I prune is to tidy up lower leaves which may be drooping or touching
the soil. By doing so you are reducing the risk of disease in the plant.
Growing hot chiles
To get the maximum heat from your peppers, it's not simply a case of buying a
hot variety and planting. How you look after your plant can affect the heat. This can be
achieved by the climate the peppers are grown in, the growing method and the time of har-
vest. To increase the heat, grow your peppers in a warm climate, in the 95 o F/35 o C range.
Should you not live in such a climate this can be achieved through use of indoor heat lamps
or growing in a greenhouse. Alternatively cover the soil with black plastic to raise the soil
temperature. Studies have shown that peppers which have been starved a little of water
will produce hotter peppers than those which are well-watered. Also as chile peppers ripen,
their heat increases - the taste of the pepper will also change as it ripens, so let your taste
buds guide you when it's time to harvest.
If you do grow hot chiles, be aware that touching or rubbing against the peppers can
cause burning and skin irritation. Be especially aware if pets or children are in the vicinity
of the peppers. To avoid any accidental brushing against the plants, use a cage to enclose
the plant. To protect yourself, use disposable plastic gloves when handling the peppers, and
of course remember to remove the gloves afterwards!