Grow Your Own Jalapeno Peppers
Jalapeno peppers add a zesty bite to spicy Mexican cuisine that's not in everyone’s price range. The jalapenos can also be quite pricey at the market. With just a few short steps, however, you can grow your own jalapeno peppers at home. Here's how:
Buy Seeds for Jalapeno Peppers from Reliable Source
If growing from seed – and that’s the most economical way to have a bountiful harvest of jalapeno peppers – be sure to purchase seeds from a reliable source. A trip to Hatch, New Mexico can result in plenty of seeds inexpensively purchased from local sources, or search them out on the Internet.
Follow Planting Instructions Carefully for Jalapeno Peppers
Jalapenos, which are fairly hot in capsaicin (but habaneros are 50 times hotter), are somewhat picky peppers to grow. The jalapeno pepper likes a sandy soil, and hot, dry (no humid) temperatures in the 80s and 90s. They grow best in these conditions, and that’s why so many pepper varieties are grown in the Southwest, particularly southern New Mexico.
When planting, be sure to place seeds no more than ¼-inch deep. Keep moist during germination, but then only water every other day when there’s no rain. Some jalapeno pepper-growing experts recommend the plants only be watered when they begin to wilt or show signs of stress.
Also, don’t fertilize at all during the first few weeks. Some experts never fertilize their jalapeno peppers.
Start Indoors or Out
Where to start growing jalapeno pepper seeds – indoors or out – is a subject of debate among pepper aficionados. Some start the seeds indoors in a heated tray under fluorescent lighting. Others wait until the nighttime temperatures are no lower than 70 degrees and daytime temps are consistently between 80 to 85 degrees and near constant sun.
It’s okay to plant seeds in 15-inch pots, or with some jalapeno peppers, particularly the early hybrids, sow seed directly into the ground.
Other Jalapeno Peppers Planting Tips
As with most transplanted seedlings, pinch off leaves to harden plants and stimulate root growth. When transplanting, or thinning directly-sown seeds, be sure to keep sufficient distance between plants, depending on width. Some jalapeno pepper plants may require canes to support their weight, particularly the sprawling bush type. Also be sure to maintain adequate room or barrier from jalapenos and other plants in the garden.
Early Jalapeno varieties can germinate in as few as 4 to 5 days, or as long as 35 days, with an average about 21 days. Jalapeno peppers will mature in about 65 to 90 days, turning green to red, depending on variety. Seeds can be purchased inexpensively – for about $3 to $4 per packet.
If all else fails, buy jalapeno peppers already started in 6-inch pots from nurseries or places such as Home Depot and Lowe’s. But follow watering and care instructions just as for seeds. Remember, jalapeno peppers like heat, non-humid and sunny conditions, and don’t overwater or underwater. In other words, take care with jalapenos.