Step 1: Raise Chili and Sweet Peppers
A diverse group of plants, ranging from dwarf cultivars to those that reach three feet in height, chili and sweet peppers are available in a huge variety of sizes, shapes and flavors. For the best results, grow them indoors or in a greenhouse, although fruit will ripen outside in mild areas or during a hot summer. Sow seed indoors in early spring and harden off young plants in time to plant out when the risk of frost has passed. Allow an eight-inch pot for each plant, smaller for dwarf cultivars, and place plants in a sheltered site in full sun.
Aftercare and Harvesting
Peppers should not be overwatered or fed excessively. Mist plants with water when they are in flower to help the fruit set and feed with a tomato fertilizer once every two weeks when the fruit has formed. Support plants that are fruiting heavily by tying stems to stakes, and start picking when fruits are green and immature to encourage further crops.
Thin-skinned peppers that mature early are best for growing outside in cool climates. Either leave fruits to ripen on the plants or pick earlier and ripen indoors.
Chilis need heat to develop their full flavor, and will produce a large crop of ripe fruits when grown indoors on a sunny sill or in a greenhouse.
Step 2: Raise Eggplants
Eggplants are pretty, bushy plants with slightly silvery leaves and fruits in various shades of purple, white, green, and orange. Good light levels and high heat are essential throughout their development, so only grow outdoors in mild areas in a sunny, sheltered spot. Sow seed in early spring indoors, either on a warm windowsill or in a heated propagator, and transfer young plants into larger pots as they grow. Finally plant into eight-inch pots, and only place outside when the nights are frost free.
Aftercare and Harvesting
High humidity encourages fruits to set, so mist the purple flowers regularly or place pots on a tray filled with water and gravel. To encourage a bushier habit, pinch out the main growing tip when plants reach about eight inches. Once fruit starts to show, feed with a tomato fertilizer every two weeks, keep pots well watered and stake tall plants. Some cultivars are spiny so be careful when harvesting them.
Harvest eggplants as soon as the fruits are plump and the skins are shiny and smooth. Cut the stems with pruners or a knife, rather than pulling off the fruits.
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Spice up a sunny patio or balcony with a colorful collection of chili peppers and sweet peppers.