All bell peppers are green when not ripe. We usually harvest them at that point. When ripe, depending on variety, they turn red, yellow, or other colors. They're actually tastier at that point.
If you intend saving seed (which means you have to grow open pollinated or heirloom varieties, not hybrids), make sure you do not save seed from green peppers. The seed won't be viable until the fruit fully ripens to its final color.
To add to what Brook told you regarding the bell peppers. Yes, the color is indicative of the degree of ripeness. But some pepper varieties will turn specific colors when ripe - from ivory/almost white to pink-red, all shades of orange, yellow and brown, all the way into maroon/brown (so-called "chocolate" colored.)
Look through the seed catalogs this winter and choose varieties that sound interesting to you - Pinetree is a good place to look for seed when starting out because their packets are fairly small and inexpensive (which means you can experiment with several varieties without great expense. And of course, there are the seed exchanges (SSE is the most widely-known) and the trading forums here at DG.
As far as what does well in your area, you'll find a mind-boggling array of choices. To find out what's popular locally, you can ask neighbors and friends who have been gardening a while. Or check out your farmers' Co-Op to see what varieties they sell in bulk. That will give you some hints as to what is commonly grown. But don't limit yourself to only those varieties; unless a variety is described as being particularly well-suited to the South (or a long-season variety), I'd consider it "fair game" for experimenting in your zone.
>But some pepper varieties will turn specific colors when ripe - from ivory/almost white to pink-red, all shades of orange, yellow and brown, all the way into maroon/brown (so-called "chocolate" colored.) <
Gosh, G-V, I really thought those would be included under "other colors." :-)
Seriously, one thing you left off your excellent list is to chat with the local extension agent. As a rule, they know more about what's right for a particular area than anybody else.
However, many of them are locked-in to the green revolution outlook. So, while what they say is right, it isn't necessarily the whole right because they tend to talk in terms of hybrids, chemicals, and stuff like that there.
Crimson, go for it! Another suggestion: right now, or at least early this fall, is the best time to prepare the ground for your new vegetable garden.
Dig it all up thoroughly, make sure to get all the weeds and grass out, add huge amounts of compost and when planting time comes in the spring (or late winter) the ground will be already prepared. I add weeks to my growing season by not having to wait to prepare my beds in the spring. Typically springs come with lots and lots of rain; it is best to not try to dig in wet soil. With the ground already ready, just pick a day when it is not actually raining, and plant your seeds!
go for it crimson. this is my third year gardening and my veggie garden has gotten bigger every year. :) i'm learning a lot. i'm still having a problem with summer squahs but at least all the plants didn't die like last year. but only 1 is doing well, but that is one more than last year and i've gotten some great squash from it. :) regular fertilizing has shown a great improvement in my garden. i must confess that i bought most of my plants from farmers or lowe's, but i flunked seedlings 101 this spring. :) i planted 100's of cells and i got 5 marigolds, 1 black eyed susan vine, and 9 moonflowers. (those were a great success) :) i'll certainly try again this spring.
i haven't grown the same tomatoe twice. :) i'm experimenting and so far, i haven't grown a tomatoe i didn't like. :)
You know, Mary, I thought something was different for a while there; I just wasn't sure if I was hallucinating LOL And not everyone has their location or zone included in their sign-on name, or even their Member Page.