There are 3 main parts to a good grow medium namely Nutrition, Water Retention and Drainage and each has its own selection of amendments to suit your preference
It’s no secret that peppers hate wet feet so ensuring a loose well drained grow medium is half the secret of successfully growing peppers. With so many amendment options out there we are going with a simple mix that not only works but allows for future adventuresome and experimentation as your pepper growing skills and understanding increases.
Let us look at Nutrition
Peppers are perennial plants and thus need a continuous source of good plant nutrition over a long season. Therefore the bulk of your soil mix should be nutrition. At Peppadogs Pepper Company we use a mix of 75% organic compost and 25% worm castings to form our base mix to which we add the rest of our amendments.
Ensuring enough Water Retention
Now that you have a good base mix it is time to ensure that there is enough water retention in the mix so that the roots can explore their new home in search of moisture. Various amendments can be used to retain water like coco coir, coco peat, peat moss or vermiculite however we prefer to add vermiculite to our mix at a total of 10% to 15% max of the total base mix.
Be sure you have well Drained Grow Medium
Peppers hate wet feet and that’s why it’s of utmost importance to ensure a loose well drained grow medium. To ensure good drainage you can use perlite or good old river sand or opt for a mix of the two amendments. Regardless of which option you pick, you want to ensure that you mix it to a minimum of 25% of the total base mix. This will ensure a loose well drained soil that will keep your peppers feet dry and allow for more oxygen to reach the roots.
Once you have your mix right you want to ensure that it’s well mixed up evenly. Now that you have a good grow mix you ready to plant.
Give your peppers some Root Space
Peppers love space for their roots to grow downwards so look for a deep pot that has ample drainage holes at the base and on the sides. Once your pot is perfectly set up we recommend that you add a 2cm to 5cm layer of stones or pebbles to the base of the pot to even further assist with drainage. Now just add your grow mix and you can start planting.
Some Extra Tips
We like to add a handful of bonemeal with a pinch of epsom salts to the base of our plant so that it can provide quality nutrition at the end of a long grow season and into the winter since bonemeal is a very slow release fertilizer and epsom salts allows for better absorption of essential minerals.
Finally you can kickstart your season by lightly sprinkling some 2:3:2 tomato fertilizer on the surface and then give a good watering.
It is better to give a good watering less often than regular light waterings.
The best time of the day to water your plants is at sun up so that your plants have adequate moisture through the day and have time to dry out somewhat by the evening when soil temperatures can drop significantly if wet.
Article by Tony Lague