Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Green peppers: Resurrection

Last year I bought two pepper plants. One was an expensive Del Monte red bell pepper from the home center and the other was a cheap green pepper from a farmers market. Neither one had any significant fruit, and the end of the season last year left both quite dry and dead.

The red bell pepper turned into a twig and withered away. I removed it from the soil several months ago. However the green pepper has had a resurgence and is putting out leaves like crazy. There is even a hint of flowering buds on some of the branches.

One problem is that the plant is pushing out from the old woody stem, so it does not have a lot of growth upwards. Usually a pepper plant will grow around 50-80cm in height, but this one is bushy and only around 20-30cm. Some pruning may help a bit, but the direction of growth is clearly sideways not upwards.

I've read that pruning the first flowering buds can help improve fruiting by delaying the onset of fruits until the plant grows larger. If these flowers become peppers, I may snip them off a little early to encourage further fruiting growth.

One issue that I'm taking a look at is aphid infestation. This plant seems, more than any other plant in the garden, is riddled with the little bugs. You can see some of the various bugs in this picture. An obvious one is the little white dot on the leaf. I've used some pesticide on it, but the aphids keep coming back. I've heard that taking masking tape to the leaves can help physically remove these bugs.

For now, the bugs are being treated chemically. I suppose it isn't very organic, but it is a lot less messy.

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