Frost warning - harvesting unripened peppers

UncleJohn(z4 NH)October 3, 2005

First frost is due here on Friday night, so it is time for me to start pulling pepper plants in advance of that. (I have three hundred plants to harvest, so I need to start soon). Since the frost is predicted at 30°, I will probably leave my lightweight row-covered plants in place and hope for the best.

For those slated for pre-frost harvest, I will first harvest all ripened peppers. What is the best way to harvest unripened peppers? Do I yank the whole plant, and hang it upside down (with or without the roots)? Or should I remove the fruit from the plants and place them in a paper bag or some other magic location?

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username_5(banned for no reason)

I guess the logical question is what do you want to accomplish and why do you have 300 hundred plants?

Are you growing for commercial purposes or for yourself? If for yourself do you need 300 ripe pepper plants? If commercially do you require ripe fruit or is unripe fine too?

For me impending frost just means pull up the plants, clean the dirt off the roots and hang in my basement until dry and then powder. Then again I only do this with a few plants and couldn't care less if there are some unripe peppers in the mix. Your mileage may vary.

Now, about your question on drying. My preference for nearly everything is to leave roots on while drying as this allows the plant's biological functions to continue for as long as possible. Really don't know that it amounts to a hill of beans, but it is what I do. Haven't really paid any attention, but I don't think the fruits ripen much, if at all, while being hung to dry.

    Bookmark   October 3, 2005 at 3:54PM
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byron(4a/5b NH)


I don't think I saw any advantage to pull the whole plant, I did it for 3 years, the only thing I saw was increased aphids on my inside plants.

I't a little early for fri night forcast, Most of these dunderheads can't tell within 4 hours..

    Bookmark   October 3, 2005 at 4:04PM
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Last year I harvested all my peppers before killing frost. I kept the green ones in garage on our son's plastic sleigh loosely covered with clear plastic. Most of them ripened during few weeks.

Last year I had only about 20 plants and only C. annuums, so I did not have so many green pods.

This year I have about 60 plants in garden and many C. baccatums, which are covered with green peppers. We may also get frost this week, even today it was 86 F, so I am little worried.

    Bookmark   October 3, 2005 at 9:44PM
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UncleJohn(z4 NH)

I am growing purely for personal pleasure/pain. Many of the varieties I am growing are experimental; after a half-dozen years of growing standard hot peppers from local nurseries, this is my first time growing exclusively from seed. Probably only about 75-100 of them are producing peppers that I am using. Next year I expect to grow half the varieties I did this year, and limit myself to 150-200 plants now that I have a better idea of what works for me.

    Bookmark   October 3, 2005 at 10:27PM
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200 plants ? Have you got a day job ! Anyway, John, I have done both methods - pulling the plant up and also just pitching the picked peppers into a bucket and letting them sit in a cool place. I think it boils down to "what do you have time for?" I just picked individual peppers for use as I needed them from plants or bucket.
I make hot sauce, dry some, can some by pickling and freeze some. A pickled hot pepper on a skewer of marinated meat and bar-b-q'd in the fireplace is delightful in the winter.
Cheers and good luck
Maryanne in WMass

    Bookmark   October 5, 2005 at 12:27PM
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byron(4a/5b NH)


My current weather forcast is 62 for tonight and 48 for the next 2 nights :-)

    Bookmark   October 7, 2005 at 12:25PM
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UncleJohn(z4 NH)

Yeah, Byron, I have been thinking of how right you were  it looks like I have at least one extra week, and possibly two. Unfortunately all this rain is preventing me from planting garlic in the one pepper bed I did harvest. (I harvested my broadly-spaced bed (2 foot). Those were among my largest pepper plants, but most of them fell over even though they were staked with bamboo.)

    Bookmark   October 8, 2005 at 8:51AM
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byron(4a/5b NH)

I think a flood warning should have been in the forcast

I was in Keene this PM with routes 10 and 12 closed

Hoping your garden made it with 6 to 11" of rain

    Bookmark   October 9, 2005 at 9:12PM
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UncleJohn(z4 NH)

I measured 6.7" as of 8AM this morning. We are high up, so no direcet problems; though I discovered that one of my containers wasn't draining properly. In forty-eight hours got almost as much rain as the months of July and August put together! (I live about an hour north of Keene)

The peppers are continuing to ripen slowly, but the garden has been too wet to do much out there this weekend. (And I was so looking forward to some quality garden time; my weeks have gotten very busy as I have taken over both halves of the online biz I shared with my wife  she got a real-world job). So I did lots of cooking and started pickling (lots to learn about the latter, but this seems to be a very promising use of my medium-sized peppers).

    Bookmark   October 9, 2005 at 10:11PM
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In a commercial setting I would suggest cutting the plants off at the base and gather them into any bin (i've even used the oversize mesh bags). On the night before a frost two people can gather 300 pepper plants easily within an hour if you have a truck or tractor and cart. the main thing is to get the plants out of the field unless you expect to cover them with fabric. Once you bring the plants in from the fields you can throw a tarp over them if in bins. Then you can pick peppers off the plants at your leasure over the next 3-4 weeks. They will keep much better on the plants(than picked off and refrigerated) and the flavor of a pepper is never an issue--they taste like peppers.

I've found that this method works especially well with the smaller hot peppers(cayenne,serrano,habanero,jalapeno). I like to mix cutting with fabric but it is helpful to cut out a row or two between multiple pepper rows to allow room to spread the fabric and anchor the fabric edges. To cut the plants you will need a hand tree pruner. Pulling the plants just introduces dirt. Also don't pack plants as you want airspace to prevent spoilage.

    Bookmark   October 10, 2005 at 4:27PM
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After planting rows of peppers in the spring, I run strings of Christmas lights along the base of the plants. Then, if it is going to get below 37 (allows a safety factor) I plug in the lights for the night and toss a cover over the plants. If it is spring and the plants are tender, I usually put something taller than the plants in, so the covers don't smash my plants, and it allows some warm air space. This is the best use I've ever found for christmas lights! Wait until around new years day and you can find lights and replacement bulbs really cheap.

    Bookmark   June 7, 2006 at 12:51PM
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> This is the best use I've ever found for christmas lights!

Very ingenious!

I've used them in homade seed starting boxes. (before got heat pads) Just unscrew bulbs in the string until get the right temp (86°F).

    Bookmark   June 7, 2006 at 1:09PM
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davest_pete(tampa area/flor)

good thing I checked the date of the first post, I thought I overslept or something. I'm just getting ready to do the second plant out of the year and just put seeds in flats to start another 72 pepper plants for plant out in August.

    Bookmark   June 7, 2006 at 3:20PM
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Cool thread.

I want to share some of my experience.

thick peppers like serrano and jalapenos definitely can go thorough some frosts. the plant leaves die but the peppers are fine and go right through being frozen solid they thaw out like brand new. no problems.

habaneros I dont know about.

obviously a light covering over the row of plants helps a lot if you have it.

In the past I cut the plant down with a big 2 handled branch cutter and drop them on the floor of the garage. fill up the garage. then I close the garage door for the night. I bring some into the house and fill up a couple of rooms. then inside I watch TV and pick peppers. usually for several days. haha. no rush. the peppers are fine outdoors in the garage being cool. and in the house being worked on.

I fill 10 gallon pails and pickle them with salt. that takes about a week. by then I have picked all the peppers off the plants and can work on putting pickled peppers into jars.

a fun process when I am doing what I love.

I usually can carry peppers through about the first 3 frosts. those extra weeks seem to help. but by then even the high of the day is not so good so I bring them down and indoors.

I also rough harvest outdoors into boxes. then give the boxes of peppers away. i let the receiver do the clean up work. might be several peppers still together with some leaves.

when I am indoors watching tv I do a super clean picking job. even removing all stems from the pepper. and inspect every pepper and separate the red from the green etc.

I dont pickle everything. I also dry some, grind some up. freeze some. etc.

    Bookmark   June 7, 2006 at 6:10PM
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