Truth be told we are probably a week late on this post. Most recommendations say to start pepper plants 8 weeks prior to the transplant date. Many of us in the north use the Memorial Day Weekend rule for when to plant our warm weather crops, which believe it or not is only 7 weeks away! Don't worry though, you still have plenty of time. 8 weeks from today is still only May 31st and you'll see a lot of places that recommend you don't transplant peppers until early June anyway.
The instructions on how to start pepper plants from seed are exactly the same as starting tomato plants, so read this article for all those details. Just like tomatoes, starting peppers from seed will save you a lot of money and give you many more options to try vs. buying started plants at a greenhouse. For the price of a single pepper plant you can buy 2 packets of seeds that would give you about 60. In fact, we had so many seeds left over from last year that we didn't even need to buy any this year (we did anyway because we can't help ourselves). Just keep in mind that even the smallest packet available is likely to be more than you need, so don't overdo it.
I wouldn't risk it on shipping at this point but you still have plenty of time to run out to the stores and grab some seed packets this weekend. If you're looking for some ideas on what varieties to plant, here is what we are going with this year:
Organic King Of The North - One of the 2 new varieties we bought this year, we wanted to try this variety because it supposedly is specifically bred to ripen earlier in the north. Typically we don't get colored sweet peppers until late September so we're looking forward to these hopefully coming sooner. 0.2 gram package goes for $2.10.
Organic Amish Pimiento - The other new addition, we're trying pimientos for the first time which are supposed to be the sweetest of all pepper types. These are little and we're thinking they will become a favorite for the kids. 0.2 gram package goes for $2.20.
Organic Gilboa Orange - Another variety reputed to do well up north, these are big orange bell peppers. $2.30 will get you 20 seeds.
Organic Chocolate - Obviously we had to get the one called chocolate, but unfortunately it gets its name for the color and not the taste. Despite not tasting like a candy bar, we did really love the flavor of these last year. They were not too bitter or too sweet like some peppers can be and we got a ton from just 4 plants. 0.2 gram package goes for $2.30.
Organic Peacework - A red bell pepper that was bred with King of the North to ripen early. We definitely got more red bell peppers than we ever have from these plants last year. 0.2 gram package goes for $2.20.
Organic Carmen - Elongated red Italian peppers. These are a great choice for stuffed peppers. $3.40 will get you 20 seeds.
Quick disclaimer on hot peppers - when choosing a variety be sure to check the Scoville units listed in the description. This is the measure of how hot the pepper is, and there are plenty of peppers that look really cool in pictures but would melt your face off if you actually tried to eat them (Hello habaneros!). Most people are familiar with the heat of a jalapeno which comes in around 2,500 - 4,500 on the Scoville scale, so use that to judge how much heat you can handle.
Organic Jaluv An Attitude - Similar to a jalapeno but cross-bred with a few other peppers for a unique flavor and a little more heat. 2,500-8,000 Scoville. 0.2 gram package goes for $2.20.
Organic Hot Portugal - Beautiful 8" cow horn shaped red peppers. If you like cayenne peppers but don't want to deal with a million tiny peppers full of seeds, try these giant versions. 5,000 - 30,000 Scoville. 0.2 gram package goes for $2.40.
Organic Czech Black - These look just like jalapenos but ripen to a deep purple/black color. These are a good choice for mild heat as they come in at only 2,000-5,000 on the Scoville scale. 0.2 gram package goes for $2.40.
Organic Thai Hot - These are like cayenne peppers but even smaller. They actually use this one as an ornamental at Christmas time. You can let them all ripen on the bush and then before the first frost rip the entire plant out. Hang it somewhere inside to dry and you have organic crushed red pepper flakes to use all winter long. Careful though - these little guys pack a punch, at 25,000 - 40,000 Scoville they are the hottest variety we grow. 0.2 gram package goes for $2.00.
So How Do I Start Peppers From Seed?
Follow our instructions for how to plant tomatoes from seed. It's the exact same process.
Can't Wait To Learn More?
Click here for full details on growing peppers including instructions on how to support them and what to do when you're swimming in them.