Purple Pepper

12g87June 3, 2012

Hello I'm new to market gardening and this forum. This will be my fifth year with a garden and my first year at market.

My garden is coming along very good with the weather we are having and I have some little bell peppers starting.

I have grown peppers before, but this is my first year growing the purple ones. My purples are the lilac variety. I have always thought that bell peppers started out green and then turned color as they ripened. However my purple bell peppers seem to have started out purple.

Is this normal? And how do they do at market? Thanks Nate

Market Stand/Garden


Purple Pepper



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jrslick (North Central Kansas, Zone 5B)

Hello Nate,

Peppers are looking nice, the purple peppers sell great down here in K-State country! I have probably over 100 purple bell pepper plants planted.

Your peppers are perfectly normal. They start off purple and then eventually turn red, but it takes a long time. SO, if they don't sell well, wait and the they will turn red. They have some marketing options!

Here are some of mine from several years ago. The variety is Tequilla.

    Bookmark   June 3, 2012 at 8:30PM
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Yes, they start purple and ripen to red. You pick in the immature purple (green) stage. These will taste like green peppers and not be sweet like the ripe peppers.

I have grown them for year but they have never been great sellers for me so this year I dropped them from the pepper rotation.

    Bookmark   June 4, 2012 at 5:59AM
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There are certain varieties that start off the color of their name, purple, yellow that I know of personally.

I agree, the different color peppers didn't sell well. Good one green turning red, were the best selling peppers.

    Bookmark   June 4, 2012 at 8:53AM
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I'm trying Burpee's Carnival mix along with King of the North (green to red) this year, just to test the market. Though last year no one wanted the Chablis (yellow) peppers - in fact no one wanted the green peppers b/c "they're too small" - they want huge ones they can stuff a cup of rice/meat into.

    Bookmark   June 4, 2012 at 12:11PM
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By holding off and not picking until the peppers get larger, your sales will be much better, plus you can charge more for the larger peppers. Personally, I won't sell the little ones anymore. Also, I prefer to grow the blocky peppers instead of the longer pointy ones. I found they sell better.

I asked my customers whether they are 'chopping them' or stuffing them. The stuffing people, I would make sure that the peppers could stand, while the chopping people didn't care. I explained why I did this, and my customers were understanding.

    Bookmark   June 4, 2012 at 7:17PM
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Well, when it's the last month of market, I pick. I certainly thought the peppers were big enough to stuff (though perhaps I'd consider 2 to be a serving instead of 1). Since DH and I are the only ones who eat salad in our house, I like to pick the green ones small enough that I don't have half or 3/4 of a pepper left over after making a salad.

Late start this year - problems with aphids on my peppers (bought some Cubanelle, may buy some bells too since the 24 I started are wimpy) and now cold weather, so we'll see if/when I get any decent-sized bell peppers this year. I may just give up on bells entirely, the problem is convincing people that anything pointed is really a sweet pepper and not a hot one.

I do agree with you on making sure the stuffing peppers can stand up in the pan - I look for that myself.

    Bookmark   June 4, 2012 at 8:55PM
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jrslick (North Central Kansas, Zone 5B)

Good idea Marla, I wouldn't have considered asking a question like that.

The size is why I grow so many bell peppers. I can't complete with the volume, so I grow Jumbo Bell peppers. My bells are always some of the largest ones at market. I charge $1 each.

Here are the outside peppers, I just got them in on Sunday (a few weeks late) There are 450 peppers outside (not all bells, only about 150 are bells)

Here are the inside peppers. There are 320 in here, with 240 of them are bell peppers in multiple colors.


    Bookmark   June 4, 2012 at 11:52PM
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To sort of get back on topic - do you find that colored peppers peppers (non-green) sell at all? Marla said green turning red sell for her. I never got a chance to sell any turning red (mine ripened too late for Sept market, probably will this year too though I started them 2 weeks earlier, I'm not planting out any earlier than last year). But I wonder if a lot of folks are like my dad - who has been farming all his life and never realized that green peppers aren't ripe, they *do* turn a different color when ripe. Though strangely, he doesn't *like* green peppers. I gave him 2 King of the Norths and a Cubanelle to try this year.

Also, has anyone found like I did that people think anything pointy (even if not particularly small or skinny) is a hot chile pepper? You'd think with all the marketing now of the "Ancient Sweets" and such, they'd be willing to trust us when we say they're not...

I'll have to look for the Jumbos - what's the DTM? Or at least days to marketable size when green?

    Bookmark   June 5, 2012 at 6:51AM
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jrslick (North Central Kansas, Zone 5B)

I used the word Jumbos, to describe a really big bell pepper. There isn't a variety with that name. Colored bell peppers sell really well too. That is why I grow the purple and white peppers because I can offer a color beside green early in the season.

Here is a picture from several years ago, This was from a market in October.

I will usually sell this many or more at every market.


    Bookmark   June 5, 2012 at 8:42AM
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So what variety(ies) do you grow for the big peppers? Of course, you have the tunnel so you get an early start, but I'm looking for the shortest season I can. King of the North is supposed to be cold-hardy, but I still haven't managed to get it out before June so I can't tell.

    Bookmark   June 5, 2012 at 9:24AM
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KOTN, Golliath, Big Bertha and California Wonder are a couple of the peppers we grow - they get nice and big but you have to be patient and allow them to get that way. We plant a lot of pepper plants to make up for letting the fruit get bigger. At the end of the year we have a big pepper sale with the smaller fruit that will not mature before frost for people that want to freeze them (they work well for fajitas).

We move a lot of red and yellow peppers (and sell them at a premium) but have not had as much luck with the other colors. We also started growing Marconi peppers a couple of years ago and really like them. They are sweeter than bells but took a couple of years to get people turned on to them. They are a little smaller than a bell and shaped somewhat like a Hungarian but larger and wider. They come in several colors but again yellow and red are the best sellers.


    Bookmark   June 5, 2012 at 11:07AM
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AJsmama, in your short season, you would need to get your plants much larger than Jay does. You would probably need to plant gallon pots into your garden, and then be patient. I know it's hard.

I have a hard time selling the yellows and any other color.

I use California Wonder and start them earlier (usually in Jan/Feb). They are open pollinated and the seeds are cheap, I usually buy 1/2-1 oz at a time, then plant them for about 4 years. Much cheaper that way.

    Bookmark   June 5, 2012 at 12:04PM
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jrslick (North Central Kansas, Zone 5B)

A variety that works great for early and short seasons is Ace. It is a green to red pepper. Almost all mine have 2 or 3 peppers on them already, most decent size.

Here are the varieties that I have had success with.

Green to red
Red knight

Green to yellow
Lafayette very sweet even as a green pepper
Flavor burst it is a light green to yellow

Green to orange
Gourmet - orange is a hard color to grow

Chocolate, white, and purple

Chocolate beauty
Purple beauty
Purple belle
I have never been happy with California wonder. It never produces very well for me.

    Bookmark   June 5, 2012 at 3:14PM
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Sorry Jay that it hasn't done well for you, maybe it just does better here.

    Bookmark   June 5, 2012 at 4:37PM
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Hmm, I was at grocery store today and saw Red Knight,3 plants in an 8" pots, pretty good-sized, I think there was a Big Boy (?) and I forget what else - nothing from Jay's list that I recall.

I have the KOTN, and CA wonder is in the Carnival mix (I can also pick some up at greenhouse tomorrow if they have any left - they did last week when I bought the Cubanelles). Next year I will start *all* my peppers,bells and exotics, right after New Year's. The problem is where to put them in March when I need to start the tomatoes. I guess I need a tunnel. Maybe next March will be warm like this year (1 week of 70-80), but then we did have 3 freezes the last week of April. Unusual weather now for June - lows about 48.

Produce stocker says they sell a lot of the "mini-sweets" bagged 2lbs of orange and yellow. Don't know why the colors didn't sell well at market last year (and another farmer told me he found it hard to sell peppers unless they were really big so it wasn't just me).

    Bookmark   June 5, 2012 at 9:42PM
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Big Bertha always does well for me as a large pepper. Several growers around here have given up on Cal Wonder. It used to be our main pepper, but it just stopped producing fruit. Nice, big healthy plants w/no peppers. Better Belle has been my go-to pepper since. I also plant Keystone, and Giant Marconi is good as well. In the last 3 years or so, I've also come to appreciate Gypsy. I also really like the snack peppers like Yum Yum, but their survival rate has not been too impressive. I always plant an assortment of colored peppers as well, but they don't sell as well. Reds are the exception.

On another note, the Japanese beetles are already emerging. I've been killing them all week. It seems that even they are a month early. We are also having one of the worst years for ticks, and a friend is plagued w/chiggers. One scourge I haven't seen much of yet is stinkbugs, but I'm sure they're just hiding in wait for my squashes to size up.

    Bookmark   June 5, 2012 at 11:54PM
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little_minnie(zone 4a)

I have enjoyed Tequila hybrid. It puts out the first peppers period and they are teeny and cute- purple and yellow. It appeals to both green and ripe pepper buyers. That is I can talk either into them. I don't find peppers sell that well for me. I sell mine for $3 a big quart and my heirloom tomatoes for $2.50 a quart whereas the guy next to me sells peppers for $2.50 and tomatoes for $3. I just think that is funny. But he has a high tunnel from the grant for his peppers and mine are a much slower producer so I think they are worth more. Plus no chemicals.

    Bookmark   June 6, 2012 at 11:11PM
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I grow revolution as my green to red pepper and flavorburst as my yellow pepper. I also grow heirlooms like paprikas (very sweet), Italian long types and some hots (jalapeno and cayenne)

    Bookmark   June 9, 2012 at 5:18PM
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I've got some Alma paprikas that look nice, also the Cubanelles plus the hots (jal, serrano and aji limon, don't think I'm going to get any bih jolokia, 7-pots, or paper lanterns in time for market). Gotta see about picking up some Red Knight next time I'm in town.

    Bookmark   June 9, 2012 at 5:31PM
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little_minnie(zone 4a)

Yes and Lucy is quoted in the Fedco catalog with a testimonial about those Revolution peppers LOL!

I think the mini mixed color peppers are ready to go crazy popular since they sell really well at supermarkets. I don't think I sold any plants of them at market but really think I will sell the fruits if they are nice and bright fully changed colors. I tend to sell peppers 75% changed and people get fussy about that, but at 100% changed they get wrinkly very quickly.

I have several varieties I am trialling this year and hope to keep them straight. Odessa market is one because Sandhill was out of Frank's. Cal Wonder has been better for me than King. I hate Gourmet after one season with huge plants and nary a fruit by fall! Sweet Bananas are a really hard sell once anything else is ready. And hot peppers for me are worse than anything to sell.

    Bookmark   June 10, 2012 at 11:56PM
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