Poblano peppers are a super all-around pepper to have in the garden. I just love the taste of poblano peppers; having mild heat and a bit of a twang. Poblanos are great in salsa, dips, stuffing mixes, or sauteed.
One of my favorite uses for poblanos is to saute with onions and mushrooms, then pile them high on top of a grilled steak. Poblano peppers are also called Ancho peppers and originate from Mexico.
Poblano seeds are slow to get going, so sow the seeds about 8-12 weeks before the last frost date.
Sow several seeds ¼” deep in 2-3″ earth-friendly containers such as peat pots filled with lightly moistened seed starting mix.
Water well and place the pots in a well-lighted, warm area, 80° F – 85° F. To prevent the seedlings from damping off, keep the soil damp but not wet, and provide good air circulation around the plants.
Feed the seedlings with a good organic fertilizer every three weeks after they have established. When seedlings are about two inches tall, thin to one plant per pot by cutting out the smaller ones.
Once the plants are about five inches tall and the nighttime temperatures are above 60° F, harden the plants off by slowly acclimating the peppers to the garden.
After two weeks of hardening off, plant them in the garden. Peppers need full sun, rich soil (amended with compost, well-rotted manure, or leaf mold) and good drainage.
Allow two feet between plants. If the peppers are starting to produce flower buds, pinch them off and continue to do this for 1-2 weeks; this forces the plants to put their energy into growing leaves and roots.
Mulch with 2-3″ of organic matter. Mulch keeps weed growth down and maintains soil moisture.
Keep the plants lightly moist, but not soggy. Pull any weeds if they appear. Feed the plants with an all-purpose water-soluble organic fertilizer about six weeks after transplanting and again if the plants start to look pale or the leaves are small.
Leave poblanos on the vine a little longer, if you want them to turn red. For eating poblanos, you can harvest them green or red – it is a matter of personal taste. For drying, fully ripe peppers are best.
Harvest poblanos once they feel firm and get a glossy sheen. Cut the fruit off with clippers, as the branches of pepper plants are brittle and break off easily.
For more information on harvesting poblano peppers, please read How and When To Pick Poblano Peppers.
To avoid problems with cutworms (they can chew young seedlings off at the soil line) place two-inch-tall cardboard or aluminum foil collars around the new plants—with 1-inch below soil level and 1-inch above.
Caterpillars, including corn earworms and corn borers, destroy the fruits; hornworms eat both fruits and leaves. For information on controlling any pest infestation, contact your local Cooperative Extension Service or ask for advice at a local nursery.
Diseases are not very common with home grown poblano peppers.
Poblano peppers can be a nice addition to any home garden. If you are a pepper or chili lover then you should definitely give these little gems a try. You are sure to enjoy them.