Photo: Planet Forward
There are a plethora of dishes that can be complimented by the addition of a pepper. Whether it is raw peppers in salad, peppers on a pizza, peppers paired with onions and placed on a bun next to sausage, or stuffed peppers themselves, peppers make for excellent eating. They can also make dishes more aesthetically pleasing and festive by adding a pop of color to your culinary creations. A good pepper dish truly is hard to pass up!
Even better than their taste and pleasant appearance is the health benefits they offer. Different types and colors of peppers offer varying benefits, but the pepper family in general is a positive addition to any diet. Many peppers contain capsaicin which is known to help reduce cholesterol and help with weight loss. Sweet peppers may lack the burn of their counterparts, but they contain a compound called CH-19 that also boosts metabolism. Peppers are also high in vitamin C which fights arthritis and have carotenoids that fend off breast cancer in addition to containing B vitamins that go to work against stroke and heart disease.
As if the benefits of eating peppers were not enough for you to invite them into your garden, peppers are also easy to grow. All you need to do is select seeds (which need to be started indoors 8-10 weeks before the final frost and require 70 degree temperatures) or a healthy plant and begin by digging a hole that is about 12” x 12”. Add the soil or compost of your choice to about 6” and place your plant inside before filling the hole the remainder of the way, then water your plant to help dirt and soil settle. Daily watering will be necessary as your pepper plant takes hold. Water at the plant’s base until soil is wet but avoid overwatering as that can produce fungus. It may be necessary to adjust watering practices based on your zone but remember that you want wet but not soggy soil.
In addition to water, pepper plants need ample sunlight. The more sunlight a pepper plant is able to absorb, the more plentifully it will produce and the better tasting those peppers will be. The more sun the merrier, but since it is not always possible to have full sunlight at all times, set your sights on a planting area where morning sun is plentiful. You may wish to add fertilizer such as one that is specially formulated for pepper growth although a multi-purpose fertilizer is adequate. If the pepper plant you are growing is intended to produce large types of peppers or your area is often plagued by high winds and stormy weather, it is wise to stake the plant to help it from toppling. To do this, you can tie the plant to a stake with string or even use tomato cages to provide support.
With peppers planted in your garden, all you have to do is maintain them while they dot your garden with beautiful colors. Whether it is yellow, purple, red, orange, black, or even the traditional standby of green, peppers are a surefire way to make a garden exciting. Once your peppers grow and come to fruition, they can move from the garden to the dinner plate where they will continue to dazzle with their festive color and delicious flavor, boosting your health at the same time making the addition of peppers to the garden a winning decision.Discuss in our forums