How to grow Jalapeños

How to grow Jalapeños

Technically a fruit, Jalapenos are perennials commonly grown as annuals like so many others in the pepper family. The pepper family was cultivated by many indigenous tribes that lived in those regions. Over time the jalapeno was created and named after the city Xalapa in Mexico. The heat that is felt when eating a pepper is meant as a defense mechanism against mammals, seems birds were the indented audience for the pepper plants. Like many other plants from the new world jalapenos made the international rounds and is now grown on almost every contentment thanks to the Portuguese, Dutch and other navigators at the time. Under the right conditions jalapenos can overwinter and possibly can even live up to 2-3 years. Jalapenos like zones 7-9 and 14-17 and do well in containers. 

 

Plant and go 
Botanical Name: Capsicum Annuum 
Depth: ¼-½" Spacing: 12-18" Row: 30-36" Temp: 70-80F 
Germ: 7-14 days Sun: Full/ 6-8 hrs. pH: 4.8-6.0  Harvest: 60-80 days
Soil: well drained Container: 12x14 Fertilizer: 5-10-10 Water: 1-2 in per wk
Fert Freq: Every 2-3 weeks
 
Details
Jalapenos don’t like to be transplanted too much, aim on transplanting once. Sow seeds ¼ inch into a small container or a tray. Styrofoam cups work great for sowing multiple seeds, then thinning them into a single seedling. Sow 6-8 weeks before your last frost indoors. If you plan on direct sowing, it’s suggested to do so after the soil temperature is 65F. Seeds need temperatures around 70-80 degrees to germinate which should take 7-14 days. The spacing for jalapenos is 12-18 inches and rows at 30-36 inches. Find a spot that has full sun for 6-8 hours a day. These plants love the sun and heat temperatures should range between 70-80 degrees in the day. Lower temps between 40-60F can cause the fruit and leaves to fall off. Higher temps require shading, and more water about 2-3 times a week. On average water 1-2 inches per week, roots grow deep. Soil should be well drained, dry soil can make the fruit bitter. Transplant after the seedlings once the 3rd set of true leaves and 4-6 inches tall. Make sure to harden before permanently placing them outside by putting them outside for a few hours at a time for a few days. Mix in organic compost or 5-10-10 into the soil and place the seedling about an inch or so below the soil line that it was grown. The one-inch section will grow roots and help stabilize the plant. Fertilize when first transplanted and fertilize once the peppers appear on the plant. If your container growing plants may need more fertilizer or watering then if in the ground, half-strength of your preferred fertilizer is recommended and don’t forget the mulch. Jalapenos repel pests, but the leaves are edible so you may see some leaves that have been chewed on. Once all that is done water as needed and wait to harvest. 
Harvest
Plants mature 110-120 after direct sowing and 75-85 days after transplanting. If left on the plant the peppers will turn their final color, will be spicier than if picked earlier, and a little sweeter. In general wait until the pepper has reached its full size and wait a week after that. Some wait until the pepper starts to turn its next color to harvest. Cut the stem to remove the pepper to not damage the plant. You might be able to get a second harvest so harvest regularly but not all at once. Once the harvest window has passed you can either throw the plant into the compost pile or prepare it for overwintering. 
Tip
Jalapenos can cross pollinate with other pepper plants so don’t be surprised if you peppers don’t taste like you are expecting. 
Fun fact
Jalapenos average 2,000 to 8,000 on the Scoville scale, some of the hottest peppers measure up to 1,000,000 on the Scoville scale. 
Conclusion 
Jalapenos and peppers have been cultivated for thousands of years and may be the oldest cultivated plant in the world. They are easy to grow, come in a wide variety of flavors and colors and are a great addition to your garden and meals. Grab a container and pick a spot in the garden and try to grow your own.
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