Pruning peppers to make fruit ripen before first frost
Hi Everyone, I grow sweet and bell peppers in Zone 5b. I read that 4-6 weeks before first frost, you can prune off the top pepper branches to redirect energy into ripening existing fruit. My question is, does it have to be pruning off top branches, or can I just pinch off flowers from the top branches?
Taking out the top branches seems like it will 1) encourage plant to grow more branches (pruning spurns new growth), and 2) rob the plant of the energy from those leaves, which can help the existing fruit to ripen.
Would it do the same thing if I didn't prune off any top branches, but prevent those branches from bearing fruit by pinching off the flowers on them?
Also, before frost, I read on this forum that you can cut the pepper plants at the base and hang the entire plant upside down in the garage to keep picking peppers off of the drying plants for 3-4 weeks. This is supposed to be better than just picking the peppers and putting them in the fridge. Can anyone help me understand why? Also, how to prevent the fruits from growing mold when hanging on the plant in the garage? Last year, a lot of the peppers I picked and stored in the garage (not on the plant) grew mold inside, even though they looked fine on the outside. That was disappointing...
Thanks for your help and expertise!