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Pepper fertilizer question

Posted by nika107 24 - San Diego (My Page) on
Sat, Apr 12, 14 at 18:09

Last year was my first year vegetable gardening, and I learned A LOT -- mostly through all my failures... haha! One of my colossal failures last year involved sweet bell peppers. All of the fruit wound up falling off of the plant, save for one lonely yet delicious pepper. I think the problem was overfertilizing with a nitrogen rich fertilizer.

I don't want to make the same mistake again this year, so my question is... what is a good type of fertilizer for peppers in terms of NPK ratios, and how frequently should I do it? My transplants went in yesterday, and they already have a few flowers on them. One even has a baby fruit. I have EB Stone Tomato and Vege food (4-6-3) and Foxfarm liquid plant food big bloom concentrate (.01-.3-.7).

Thanks! And if anyone has any gardening books that a fairly new gardener should have in their library, I'd love those suggestions too!

Follow-Up Postings:

RE: Pepper fertilizer question

Hi, Nika. Welcome to the joys of vegetable gardening. I'll throw out a couple things for you to consider about your peppers, but I live in a much different climate from yours.

First, you may have experienced blossom end rot (BER). This can be caused by extreme wet/dry swings, or a lack of calcium in your soil (not very common). Mulch around your plants and water when needed, if you can.

Second, peppers like lots of sun. Plant them in he sunniest spot you can.

RE: Pepper fertilizer question

  • Posted by digdirt 6b-7a North AR (My Page) on
    Sat, Apr 12, 14 at 19:40

Of the two choices you list I'd go with the last one, the Foxfarm blend simply because it is closer to a normal ratio of nutrients. It is the only form of nutrients you will be using, nothing added to the soil before planting? If so then you could use something that mild with each watering. Or you could use the EB Stone diluted in water to half strength if you wished about once a month. Or third, mix some of the EB Sone dry into the planting hole and then wait until after the first fruit set to feed again.

Your choice.

Usually over feeding with N results in huge leafy plants with very few fruit so I also wonder if it wasn't some other issue. Like over-watering. That frequently causes the plant to drop both fruit and leaves. I find that peppers prefer to dry out a bit more between watering.

BER affected fruit will be fairly large but have a black/brown soft spot on the blossom end of the fruit. Did you see that?

Good luck with your peppers.


RE: Pepper fertilizer question

There are great gardening books everywhere! Go to the library and look through some.
Personally, All of my gardening books were put away during a remodel....and that was almost 2 years ago! I get everything from these boards! Ask, and you will usually get an answer within a couple of days! They give great advice, links and humor! Nancy

RE: Pepper fertilizer question

I agree that the best advice I've gotten was from Gardenweb, and I've probably read more than 50 gardening and houseplant books over the past 30 years. Few of them were very good, but there are a couple I recommend to beginners who want to get an overall understanding of the growing process. For people starting a garden, I suggest the Vegetable Growers Bible, which explains how to build your soil and gives general info about most vegetables you're likely to want to grow. For container gardening, which is very different from growing in the ground, there is great information on the Gardenweb Container Growing Forum. The best general book on growing edibles in containers is probably the Bountiful Container. It can give you a lot of creative ideas about what is possible. Both books have been best sellers for many years and are likely to be available in libraries as well as from stores and online.

RE: Pepper fertilizer question

Thank you all for these wonderful suggestions!

This year, I first mixed EB Stone Sure Start into the soil prior to transplanting the peppers. That's all I've done so far. If I use the Foxfarm, should I start using it in about two weeks, and then use it every two weeks?

Regarding my growing conditions last year... I'm in a hot and sunny locale and they did receive about 7 hours of sun a day. I had mulch around the plants, but kept the mulch away from the crown of the plants. I don't think I overwatered, but I might have let the plants dry out a bit every now and again.

The plants weren't very leafy. They actually didn't do much of anything. The plants would flower, and then an immature fruit would develop. But then the fruit would fall off the plant almost immediately. I don't recall any brown spots on the fruits, but they were very tiny so it stands to reason that I might not notice the dark spots. But the plants only dropped the immature fruits, not the leaves. I do remember dark spots on the stem, kind of at joints where the plant would branch out.

And I'm going to check out those book suggestions, and will definitely be cruising around this forum too! :)

RE: Pepper fertilizer question

Nika: Hey neighbor! :)

Give me some more info and I might be able to help.

What area in San Diego?
In ground or in containers? Raised beds? if in ground, have you had a soil test? Have you amended the soil and with what?


RE: Pepper fertilizer question

The question is : PEPPERS FERTILIZING.

I am also interested to know: ARE PEPPERS DIFFERENT FROM TOMATOES? how/ what/ why ?

This year is going to be my major pepper adventure. Probably mostly in containers, using 5-1-1 soil mix. I have dolomitic lime (with Ca and Mg.), plus CRF (MG Shake n Feed). These all go in the mix. WHAT NEXT ?

I have grown hot pepper with some degree of success in the past but not the sweet ones. I have given up on BELL types all together.

RE: Pepper fertilizer question

  • Posted by ZachS z5 Littleton, CO (My Page) on
    Mon, Apr 14, 14 at 9:33

A lot of things cause flower/fruit drop, it's my experience that peppers are kind of touchy in that regard. Too hot, they drop flowers. Too cold, they drop flowers. Too wet or too dry? You guessed it, they drop their flowers. It's like goldilocks living in your garden, they like it to be just right! I wouldn't automatically assume it was the nitrogen. As Dave said, that will cause them to be big, beautiful, bushy plants, but will fail to develop very many flowers to begin with.

I too, have almost given up on bell peppers. I have tried containers and I never get any peppers. This year, they are going in the raised bed, if they don't work out, I'll be done with them for good.

I second the Vegetable Gardeners Bible. That is a great book. I have several on my bookshelf, but, find that many of them are, at best, good intentioned, at worst, downright misleading. Keep in mind,when reading books, that there is simply far too much info and even more variables to put into a single volume. They can be helpful places to start, but don't always take their word as gospel. Don't be afraid to experiment and fail ("negative results are still results", as I learned from the Big Bang Theory) and go against the grain. Really that goes for the advice given here too. What works in my garden may not work in yours, and vice versa.

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