Jalapeno peppers is the small hot peppers seen frequently in Mexican dishes and in the salsa. Jalapenos have become common throughout many cuisines, and in the United States is one of the most popular ways to add heat to any dish. Jalapeno peppers originated in Mexico and are typically easy to grow. Jalapeno peppers can take a while to germinate but after germination Jalapeno plants grow quickly. Because of the long germination period in growing zones with shorter warm seasons it’s recommended you start your peppers a few weeks before the last frost inside..
Soil Conditions: Jalapeno peppers prefer well-drained soil that is alkaline. A ph level between 4.5 to 7.0 is essential for vigorously growing Jalapenos. Jalapenos can do well in a range of soil conditions provided that it receives a generous amount of sunlight and water.
If you are starting jalapenos indoors it is easiest to use a seed tray which will make for easy transplanting after the last spring. The tray should be kept in a warm place and the soil should be kept moist but not flooded constantly. It takes at least a few weeks before your Jalapeno seeds start to germinate but there are “early” start jalapenos increasingly available even in your local hardware store.
If you choose to plant it directly outdoors, buy 6 to 8 week old plants in the local nursery and plant your Jalapenos in early spring. If your only choice is to sow directly outside, consider using raised beds or mulch to help increase the soil temperature. Plant the seeds at least 24 inches apart from each other and 3 feet between the rows if possible. The plants tend to grow to about 2 ½ feet to 3 feet high so space is really necessary. Bear in mind as well that a single jalapeno plant will produce quite heavily and for a family you likely will not need more than 2 or 3 plants.
After 8 weeks, you will begin to see small white flowers on the plants and the peppers will begin to develop after another few weeks.
Watering: It is best to water your jalapeno peppers deeply every once or twice a week. Do it more often when there is drought or your soil becomes completely dried out.
Never wet the leaves to avoid disease or mildew. Thus, you should water your jalapenos at the bottom of the plant. Be careful not to over water as your jalapenos might rot if left in standing water.
Light: Jalapenos should be planted in full sunlight or the sunniest space you have available. Plant your Jalapenos in an area where it will receive plenty of sunlight. Ideally it should receive 6 to 8 hours of sunlight daily minimum.
Fertilizing: A good fertilizer for jalapenos is one that is low in nitrogen. Every two weeks, fertilize plants using a diluted vegetable garden fertilizer or simply keep your jalapenos fed with rich compost and mulch. Stop feeding the plants when peppers have begun to develop.
Harvesting: Pick your Jalapeno peppers as soon as you see them ripen (when they are at least 3 inches in size). Leave the unripe Jalapenos to be picked at a later date. Never pull the pepper from the plant as it will damage it. Use a sharp knife or blade to harvest. If you see cracking or scarring on your Jalapenos they are still ok to eat.
Ripe Jalapenos start to turn black or green and usually it takes 80 to 110 days before you get to harvest your lovely Jalapenos. The ripe ones are usually between four to six inches long, fat, firm and has a bright sheen. They usually turn from a bright green then darken to a deeper shade of green, then to black and eventually turn red. In a span of 3 to 4 months, you will get to enjoy your homegrown Jalapeno peppers.
Pickled, cooked or eaten fresh, Jalapeno Peppers are perfect way to spice up your cooking!