When referring to green peppers, the most common type is the popular sweet bell pepper (Capsicum annuum), reports the University of Illinois Extension. Green peppers thrive throughout U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 1 through 11, and are known for their waxy foliage and large, crisp fruit. While synthetic fertilizers can provide your green peppers with harvest-boosting nutrients, you also have several organic, all-natural options at your disposal.
Green peppers, and peppers as a whole, love well-draining soil that’s rich in organic matter. The University of Florida’s Integrated Pest Management Program reports that compost provides these exact conditions, enhancing the soil structure and also fertilizing the pepper plants organically with important nutrients such as nitrogen. For the best results, spread 4 inches of an organic compost over the surface of your pepper garden before planting, and mix the compost into the top 6 inches of soil.
Traditionally, gardeners use a few cups of a synthetic 10-10-10 or 16-16-8 fertilizer to amend the pepper garden’s soil prior to planting, according to the North Carolina State University Extension. If you’re looking for a more organic, natural alternative, try a certified organic fertilizer formulated with ingredients such as bone meal, green sand and dried blood, recommends the Colorado State University Extension. Compared to synthetic products, these generally have a lower nutrient profile of 5-3-3 or 4-6-6. For medium feeders like green peppers, you need approximately 2 pounds of nitrogen per 1,000 square feet of soil. To calculate how much organic fertilizer you need, divide the first number on your organic fertilizer’s package by 100 — for a 4-6-6 product, the result would be 0.04 — then divide 2 by the resulting number. For example, if you’re using an organic 4-6-6 fertilizer, divide 2 by 0.04 to discover that you need 50 pounds of the fertilizer for every 1,000 square feet of your pepper garden. Mix this fertilizer into the top 6 inches of soil.
Green peppers love mulch, according to the Oklahoma Cooperative Extension. Not only does it help block out weeds that would steel fertilizer nutrients from your pepper plants, but it also conserves soil moisture while directly feeding your pepper plants as the mulch decomposes. For the best results with peppers, use a mulching material such as wood chips or weed-free straw. Spread the mulch in a 2- to 3-inch-thick layer among your green pepper plants to achieve maximum benefits.
Fertilizer Tips and Warnings
While not necessary, a repeated fertilization at the first appearance of fruit on your pepper plants can enhance fruit size. Simply apply the same amount of fertilizer as you did before planting your peppers, but this time place it in a strip on the soil surface running parallel to your pepper plants. Whenever you fertilize your pepper plants, avoid letting the fertilizer actually touch your plants as that may cause nitrogen burns. Additionally, water your green pepper plants immediately after applying fertilizer to help carry the organic fertilizer’s nutrients down to the pepper plants’ roots and further minimize the risk of nitrogen burns.