If you ever have a “less young” person give you advice about something that they have a lifetime of experience in, take notice, take notes, and take a chance that they might know what they’re talking about. This past summer I heard (from someone less young) that you can save pepper plants through the winter, replant them in the garden the next spring and get double the fruit from the plants. REALLY? How did I not know about this before, and is it really true? Considering the source, I had to give it a try.
When the weather turned cool this fall, I kept an eye on the forecast and made sure to cover my pepper plants at night when there was a danger of frost, which happened earlier in the fall than usual, so I really had to stay on the ball. Finally, on a day when the weather was decent AND I found enough time in our crazy schedule, I rounded up all the flower pots I could find and I headed to the garden to dig up my pepper plants. I only had enough pots to save 8 of each type of pepper plant (bell peppers, lipstick peppers, and jalapenos), which ended up being a little less than half the total pepper plants in my garden. But hey, if they yield a double crop next year, it’ll even out!
The flower pots I used ranged in size from 4 1/2″ to 9″, and anything from terra cotta to cheap-o disposables that I had saved, as well as a couple of hanging pots that I removed the hanger hooks from. Use what you have on hand! I carefully dug up each plant and included as much of the root ball and dirt as possible and stuffed them into pots. The bigger plants went into the bigger pots, and the smaller into the smaller (obviously). I brought the plants into the garage for a couple days to give any bugs a chance to scatter, then I brought the pots inside to my plant shelf. I put large planting trays under the pots to catch water overflow. I also trimmed back any of the plants that were too tall to fit on my shelf space (a daring move since I didn’t know how the plants would handle it).
During the first couple of weeks after the transplant, the pepper plants looked really bad. They dropped almost all their leaves. I was tempted to “call it” like they do on those hospital TV shows when the doctors give up their life-saving efforts, but then I remembered a poinsettia plant that I neglected a few years ago. After giving it water and time, it eventually started putting out new leaves. So I kept my sad-looking pepper plants watered with my only hope coming from the fact that they still had strong looking stems. Low and behold, they started growing new leaves! I am so excited and relieved that this actually seems to be working! So, the first part of the experiment was a success. Now let’s see how they do throughout the winter, transplanting next spring, and the summer growing season. I hope to do another post about this to update you on the boatload of peppers I get from this successful experiment.