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"Basics" for growing nice fleshy Bell Peppers?

Kingsville, TX(Zone 9b)

This may be a dumb question, but hopefully someone out there will have an answer for me.
I've tried a number of times over the years to grow bell peppers.
For some reason their walls are always paper thin, & tough skinned.

What is the secret to growing them with nice thick, fleshy, juicy walls, like those I buy in the store?? ? ?

I get my starter plants from the 'big box' stores,
(the only source of starter plants available here).

I've had the green, red and yellow, and last year, the Mexican Bell, too.
At least I think that was the name.
It was supposed to be a spicy bell pepper.

I don't remember the variety names of the red and yellow bells,
The green was 'California Wonder'.
The description brought up by the QR code says it is "thick walled and juicy".

I live in South Texas, my soil is basically heavy clay,
So I've planted them in large pots in Miracle Gro potting soil.
I do have an area that I have been working on for a number of years now,
And it is finally a nice pliable, loamy soil.
I'm going to put the peppers in there this year.

So can you help me by sharing your 'secrets' for growing nice, thick walled, juicy peppers?

Thank you!

Enterprise, AL(Zone 8b)

Most certainly not a dumb question. I have asked almost every gardener I meet the same questions. The reply I get is usually "I wish I knew". I grew a lot of bell peppers, pretty nice ones and gave many of them to friends. One friend actually "complimented" me for growing peppers with thin walls, she did not like the thick walled ones. I grew California Wonders and Burpee Crispy Treat Hybrids, they were very nice peppers; but not impressive peppers.

Liberty Hill, TX(Zone 8a)

Many of us grow sweet non-bells. Better yield, flavor, and the pods are bigger. I don't know many people, especially in the South, that grow nice bell peppers.

Houston Heights, TX(Zone 9a)

I dont think I had that problem but I could not tell you why I did not. I got my red ones from HD. The yellow ones I got by saving seeds of one from the grocery. The green ones I got from an NK seed packet from HD. I use square foot raised beds with some natural soil (has good bit of clay) tilled in bags and bags of leaves the year before I started, amended with natures helper and my own compost. I am not very scientific. when a bed lies fallow, I often bury kitchen waste there. I rotate the beds and the legumes get tilled in after they are finished. I dont have any mineral component to my raised bed mix so I get a lot of shrinkage which I make up each yr with compost and natures helper. sometimes when plants dont seem to be taking off, I give them a little MG "blue water" a few times until they do. Im always surprised when I have a harvest since Im such a sloppy gardner. I dont have a heat mat and I dont have a light stand. I dont harden off. LIke I said, sloppy. I grew up on a farm and we never had those things then so I dont feel deprived but I would think the more well organized and well planned gardners would be able to do better.

Augusta, GA(Zone 8a)

Most new gardeners over read and overthink, rather than fall into a natural rhythm. You seem to have gotten it right steadycam. Bells are more difficult, but do grow well in the south. Just get a good variety, stick them in decent soil and let them do their thing. In many areas, you do need to select varieties resistant to specific diseases. http://davesgarden.com/guides/pf/go/106257/ http://davesgarden.com/guides/pf/go/81584/ http://davesgarden.com/guides/pf/go/166233/ http://davesgarden.com/guides/pf/go/78249/ http://davesgarden.com/guides/pf/go/82381/

Liberty Hill, TX(Zone 8a)

I'm a sloppy gardener also. Lol I make do with what's available and im happy with it. I've grown bells but I get a better yield and larger fruit from non bells so that's what I grow.

Alba, TX(Zone 8a)

I'm a middle of the road gardener. Not quite sloppy but not scientific although I love the scientific names and the soil science part. I guess a sloppy science geek. I have had good luck with Gator Belle and Yollo Wonder in the sweet pepper department. I've read the the key is very steady watering. So I always have drip on the sweet peppers and try to turn it on every other morning and every other evening. But not for quite as long as I would for the tomatoes. The pepper plants are the first I check when I get home from work and am careful not to let them start to wilt. And they seemed to like the mix of used hay and goat manure I used last year. This year I am also trying out Carolina Wonder as recommended by the Southern Seed Exchange. I think if you are in the South you do have to learn which varieties do better here. It is not really hard to start pepper seeds. I do have a heat mat but often forget to use it. I've found that the warmed up cement on the back porch works just as well. If you don't use a heat mat to start your seeds it just takes a little longer. I've also found that rushing the new plants into the chilly ground just stunts the plants growth. So I do have a soil thermometer and use it. That is pretty much all I know. The walls of the two I mentioned above do seem to get pretty thick and juicy. I've tried others that worked for me up north, but not down here.

Kingsville, TX(Zone 9b)

Thought I'd add a brief 'update' here.

I've planted a couple of different kinds of peppers this year, just one plant of each.
And tried to be more consistent with watering.

A 'Chocolate Beauty' bell so far has produced only a couple of peppers, but they were nice and fleshy, really delicious!
So I figured the watering was the solution.
Then a 'Yummy Orange Snacking' mini bell right next to it had one pepper.
I just couldn't wait, and picked it while still green.
Talk about disappointment! ! !
It was durned near fleshless!
Barely more than a thin skin.
So there goes the watering theory.

The others haven't produced yet,
So results aren't in yet.
But as of right now, I'm leaning towards planting only the 'Chocolate Beauty' bell next year!

(edited to correct name of pepper)

This message was edited Jun 3, 2013 12:59 PM

Irving, TX(Zone 8a)

Here is my update and theory.
I think peppers need time and yes "water" ... but mostly time to become really thick.
This is what has been happening this year. So far I have harvested a few red peppers ... it just took forever to change color, but the skin was really thick (Red Marconi, Quadrato d'Asti and ...)
The pepper in the picture that is turning yellow is "corno di toro giallo". It has been green for a month and more ...
In the past I just harvested the peppers when they where green, chopped and froze them.
This year I am going to let them turn color and I bet the wall is really thick ...

Thumbnail by drthor Thumbnail by drthor
Kingsville, TX(Zone 9b)

That is a very interesting theory, drthor.
I am probably the world's most impatient gardener,
but I will try very hard to wait for the peppers to turn color before I pick them.
I have a Red Marconi, too. So far it just has a couple of green peppers,
I will wait for them to turn.
I need to repeat that sentence over and over to myself. . . .

:>)

Liberty Hill, TX(Zone 8a)

That could very well be true. They aren't really done until they get the right color so it could take that long for the walls to get thick. I'm going to have to pay closer attention this year.

Enterprise, AL(Zone 8b)

If you wait on them to ripen to full color, be prepared to lose some of them to rot. The longer the peppers stay on the vines the longer they are subject to attack from insects and diseases. Just keep a close eye on the ones that are allowed to stay till they ripen!

Irving, TX(Zone 8a)

Great suggestion !

Snellville, GA(Zone 7b)

Quote from lbarden547 :
This may be a dumb question, but hopefully someone out there will have an answer for me.
I've tried a number of times over the years to grow bell peppers.
For some reason their walls are always paper thin, & tough skinned.

What is the secret to growing them with nice thick, fleshy, juicy walls, like those I buy in the store?? ? ?

I get my starter plants from the 'big box' stores,
(the only source of starter plants available here).

I've had the green, red and yellow, and last year, the Mexican Bell, too.
At least I think that was the name.
It was supposed to be a spicy bell pepper.

I don't remember the variety names of the red and yellow bells,
The green was 'California Wonder'.
The description brought up by the QR code says it is "thick walled and juicy".

I live in South Texas, my soil is basically heavy clay,
So I've planted them in large pots in Miracle Gro potting soil.
I do have an area that I have been working on for a number of years now,
And it is finally a nice pliable, loamy soil.
I'm going to put the peppers in there this year.

So can you help me by sharing your 'secrets' for growing nice, thick walled, juicy peppers?

Thank you!


If I could add one thing that might work for you is to give them afternoon shade. I know the directions say give them full sun but I think the writer of that must have been up North. In the Southern states they benefit from a respite from the heat and Sun.

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