Should I harvest sweet peppers now?

lmvancOctober 16, 2010

To my SW Washington neighbors ... when should I harvest sweet red peppers that haven't fully ripened? Do I pick now and hope they ripen indoors, or leave them on the plants (under the garden fabric) for a while longer?

This is my first year growing peppers. Now that it's Oct 16 with night-time temps dangerously close to freezing, I'm at a loss on what to do with them. I've got two sweet red pepper varieties (Red Mercury and Marconi Rosso) planted in earth boxes - 6 plants of each. Plants are quite tall and robust, loaded with peppers that have just started showing the faintest hint of red. I've covered them with a light-weight garden fabric as a frost precaution, but I'm at a loss on harvesting at this point.

I read through some other postings, but don't have a barn or garage for pulling and suspending the plants. My options are leaving them on the plant, or picking and piling in a large colander or bowl for ripening.

NOTE: If it matters, my intent for the peppers is to roast on a charcoal grill, peel/seed them, then freeze individually for adding to sauces throughout the winter. I may also try BBB's sweet pepper spread.

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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

Well you certainly don't want them to get hit with a frost. That will ruin them. So you may not have a choice except to pick them or plan on using really great protection coverage nightly.

Since the peppers are certainly great eating at any stage - many on the Vegetable Gardening forum talk about how it is difficult and slow getting peppers to the red stage even under ideal conditions - so I wouldn't want to take the risk of losing them so I would pick them if they were mine.

Whether they will ripen further after picking all depends on the variety - many won't.


PS: keep in mind that temps closer to the ground are often as much as 10 degrees colder than they are at thermometer height. So if you plan to cover them don't wait until the thermometer says 32. ;)

    Bookmark   October 16, 2010 at 6:49PM
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Thanks, Dave. The garden fabric I'm using allows sunlight and water through (it is designed to remain on 24-hours a day) so I've already got them covered. Also, the earth boxes are slightly under an overhang and within 3 feet of the house ... all of which is helping to provide them with fairly decent protection. But I greatly appreciate the advice, and will seriously consider picking them tomorrow.

    Bookmark   October 16, 2010 at 9:28PM
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laceyvail(6A, WV)

It takes a lot of heat to ripen peppers. Not likely they'll ripen once you're into frost weather.

    Bookmark   October 17, 2010 at 6:07AM
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