November 28, 2014

How To Grow Bell Peppers & 10 Delicious Bell Pepper Recipes

Bell peppers are usually so expensive in the grocery store that it’s one of those plants that you should try to grow yourself if you can.  I’ve grown them in containers and in raised beds and both methods have worked for me.

How to grow bell peppers and 10 bell pepper recipes

 Tips for Growing Bell Peppers

Bell peppers are a long season plant, so they require patience from gardeners before anything is ready to harvest in late summer, especially if you want red, yellow or orange peppers since green bell peppers are actually immature fruit.

Thankfully though, if you love peppers and want to be able to harvest a large number, each plant is able to produce multiples. Plants do not require a lot of growing space so you can pack a lot into a single bed, or like I said,  grow them in pots.

how to grow bell peppers

Setting Up Your Garden
Bell peppers like loose, well drained soil, so make sure that the soil in the garden bed or containers is not dense and heavy. Add nutrients to the soil with organic fertilizer or organic compost, that is well mixed in. Because bell peppers are vigorous growers, they need to be in a garden space that is located in full sun for at least eight hours out of the day.

Starting Vegetables
You can start bell peppers as seeds. You need to start your seeds 8-10 weeks before your last frost date. Then bring them out into the garden once all chance of frost has passed. Transplants are easier and can be added to a warm garden bed spaced approx 10-18 inches a part (check your tags)  or 1 per square if you’re doing Square Foot Gardening.

Caring and Maintaining Peppers
Bell peppers do not require a lot of oversight before they begin to flower and bear fruit. Water thoroughly and regularly but don’t overwater the plants. Pepper roots do not like to be wet all the time and rotting will occur at the base of plants that are left to grow in soil that is constantly moist. So allow the soil to dry between watering.

Bell peppers are good companions to many other plants but do not plant with the brassica family. I like to plant peppers with tomatoes, basil and eggplants as companions.   Support your plants with cages or stakes because they’ll start to bend once they are heavy with  fruit.

Tips for growing bell peppers

Harvesting Peppers
Once the peppers begin to flower they will begin to bear fruit.  There are always going to be peppers that are ready to begin growing, or are in the middle of growth, so it is important that you carefully remove each fruit from the stem. Use sharp scissors or a knife to cut your peppers off the stem, avoiding damage to the plant. The longer you let a pepper mature the sweeter it will taste.

If you have too many peppers to use at one time, they are easily frozen or dried.

10 Delicious Bell Pepper Recipes

  1. Quinoa Stuffed Bell Peppers
  2. Chicken Fajita Stuffed Bell Peppers
  3. Roasted Red Pepper Potato Soup
  4. Marinated Red Bell Peppers
  5. Hawaiian Style Sweet & Sour Pineapple and Bell Peppers
  6. Shrimp with Bell Peppers and Swiss Chard
  7. Crock Pot Beef Stuffed Peppers 
  8. Jalapeno Mac & Cheese Stuffed Peppers
  9. Roast Chicken with Balsamic Bell Peppers
  10. Turkey Stuffed Bell Peppers

You might also like to check out my Gardening 101 Series

Gardening 101 Series: How to start a vegetable garden

10 Amazing Flower Tower/Tipsy Pot Planter Ideas!

I think flower towers or tipsy pots are such a stunning way to add vertical interest to your garden, porch, or front entry. But not only that, they also are a great way to add a bit of whimsy! Here are 10 awesome ideas for making flower towers or tipsy pot planters.

10 amazing flower tower & tipsy pot ideas

10 Flower Tower or Tipsy Pot Planter Ideas

tiered flower pots from The Kim Six Fix (flower tower roundup)

I love this flower tower from The Kim Six Fix because she made the whole thing for under $10 and so cute!

galvanized tipsy tower (round up of flower towers)

This insanely amazing galvanized tipsy pot is from  Annie Steen at Flea Market Gardening

Flower tower by House by Hoff (flower tower roundup)

House by Hoff used terracotta pots that she painted to make this beauty.

colorful tipsy pots by Tiaras & Bowties (flower tower roundup)

I like how Tiaras & Bowties used these cute colorful pots for her tipsy tower

flower tower by  Simply Desiging

Simply Designing filled this pretty flower tower with pansies for spring but you could do the same with summer flowers.

Tipsy Tower by Daydreaming Bliss (roundup of flower towers)

Love the color of the pots in this tipsy tower by Daydreaming Bliss

address flower tower

You could put your house numbers on a pot like this one via Flickr or vinyl lettering!

succulent tower by Sow & Dipity (flower tower round up)

Love Sow & Dipity’s version using succulents!

Stacked planters by Home Jelly (flower tower round up)

Love, love, love these stacked planters from Home Jelly!

Galvanized tipsy pots by The Pink Hammer (flower tower round up)

This totally amazing galvanized tipsy pot planter is from The Pink Hammer.

So many great projects and they’re not hard to do!

My Tips For Growing Bigger Better Tomatoes

A perfectly ripe home grown tomato warmed by the sun is NOTHING like the ones you get in the grocery store (as most of you know that grow tomatoes)!  I planted some tomatoes recently and wanted to share with you a few tips that I hope will improve your chances for growing bigger & healthier tomatoes.

Tips for growing bigger healthier tomatoes

I think most gardeners have their own tricks and tips for growing certain things and you’re welcome to share yours in the comments.  Being a gardener means always learning something new!

Tips for growing bigger & better tomatoes

1. I remove the peat pot unless I see that the roots have already grown through the pot because I’ve dug up a few plants where those type of pots haven’t disintigrated. At the very least remove the rim of the pots (the part that sticks up past the soil line. If you don’t, the peat pots won’t retain water and they’ll dry out (drying up the roots of your plant).

tomato plant with peat pot removed

2. Plant deep!  Planting your tomatoes deep creates a stronger root system . There are two ways you can plant deep. One is to make a long trench and lay your tomato plant on it’s side (remove all the leaves that will be buried). Cover the tomato with soil only leaving  the very top  of the plant exposed.

3. The way I like to plant deep is to dig a deep hole and plant my tomato plant as you normally would just really deep (remove all the leaves that will be buried) so that the remaining leaves are above the ground but not touching the dirt. I actually tested both ways of planting deep a few years ago with the same variety of tomato and planting vertically worked better for me. The tomato I planted deep but vertically did much better than the one I planted on it’s side. But give both a try and see which one works best for you.

tomato stripped of lower leaves and planted deep

4. Give them a good start by putting a few crushed egg shells and some banana peel at the bottom of the hole.  Egg shells add calcium and are supposed to help prevent blossom end rot and banana peel is supposed to add potassium & help with overall plant vigor. (some people use powdered milk instead of egg shells but I’ve never tried that).

tomato planted with banana peel and egg shells

6. Prune the bottom leaves. It encourages growth and reduces diseases. Don’t let any leaves touch the dirt.

tomato planting tips

7. I fertilize my tomatoes with fish emulsion and seaweed feed every few weeks or so. Some people like to also use a few tablespoons of epsom salts and coffee grounds, but I haven’t tried that yet.

tomatoes companion planted with lettuce in a raised bed

8. I always plant my tomatoes with marigolds to prevent nematodes. I don’t know if it really works but I can say that I’ve never had a nematode problem and I like having flowers in the garden anyway.  As you can see, I’m not planting intensively like I usually do since the garden is more for show this year (our house will be on the market next month).

bowl of homegrown cherry tomatoes

Just remember that tomatoes are really sensitive to weather! No matter what you do you might run into problems if it rains too much or not enough, or it’s  too hot or you have sudden temperature fluctuations. Those things are just beyond your control.  But it does help if you have strong plants to begin with!

What are your planting tips?

Gardening 101 Series

Saturday In The Garden & Some Projects We’re Working On

Hi everyone!  I have lots of  lovely blooms in my garden right now and we’re working on a few different projects. So I have a few photos to share with you this weekend.  I’ll start with a a couple of things that are in bloom.

Endless Summer Hydrangeas

A lot of my hydrangeas are in bloom! These are Endless Summer.

climbing roses on the front porch

All the roses are in bloom

orange asiatic lilies

These crazy orange asiatic lilies are huge!

Some projects were working on:

unpainted gingerbread screen door

We put in this gingerbread screen door last weekend. Isn’t it pretty! I’m painting it this weekend and the door behind it if the weather holds. I’m thinking I’ll paint the screen door the same color I painted my garden gate and I’ll  paint the door behind it and the other door in garage that leads to the downstairs white.  Actually – I really want to paint the door behind it and the other door in the garage yellow.  Wouldn’t that be pretty! That blue with yellow behind it.

Martha Stewart Robin's Egg blue walls

We had new windows put in the masterbedroom and bath 2 weeks ago so now I’m ready to paint those two rooms. The bedroom is Martha Stewart Robin’s Egg Blue and we’ve been advised by a few Realtor’s that it needs to be toned down. So I’m painting it a grey or greige.  The bathroom is yellow (what isn’t in this house :) ) and I’ll choose a really light grey for that one.

garden seating area to be

I took out my strawberry bed and my little garden shed fell over during a storm so I had this big empty space in the corner of the vegetable garden. So I decided to move things around a bit and I’m working on a little seating area under this crepe myrtle instead of the paver patio my daughter and I built a few years ago (that’s a potting area and my container garden now – more on that to come). The door is from my garden shed and I have a few cute ideas for that – gotta do something with that shutter – it’s been sitting in the garden for a few years now. The picnic table bench is getting a new coat of paint and a few other fun things will be happening in that corner.

I also planted my vegetable garden which I’ll post about another day.

So that’s kind of what’s been going on here plus we’re slowly decluttering. We’ve lived here over 10 years and you know I have a lot of stuff! I want to have less stuff! Actually what I want is to just have stuff I REALLY love. I was going to have a big garage sale but I just don’t have time, maybe before we actually have to move. I’ve been giving things away to friends, neighbors and the Goodwill instead.

I realized I can’t do everything and stay sane and healthy!

Have a great weekend!

DIY Saturday: How To Make A Garden In A Bag Of Soil

This is an amazing and simple way to set up a new garden bed or even to have a little garden if you don’t have much space.  Gardening in a bag of soil is not a new idea (I’ve seen people plant vegetables in a bag of dirt) but I’ve never seen it used in such large scale.  Gardening in a bag of topsoil makes setting up a new garden bed so quick and easy!

How to set up a new garden bed using bags of dirt #nodig_garden

I would definitely give this a try if I was setting up a new annual bed (at the very least the grass under the bags would be killed and the following season you could plant in the ground if you want). This is a great no-dig garden!


Bedding plants

Bags of topsoil or potting mix




Go here  or here to see the full instructions of how to plant in a bag (one is the original tutorial and one is a follow up)


Have a great weekend!

Painted Bench Makeover For The Deck

About  17 years ago my husband and I were walking through Target and I saw a bench that was on clearance. This was my first ever clearance purchase at Target! I can still remember how excited I was that I found it because we had just purchased our first house and money was tight. But this was something I could afford, it had a little bit of storage and it was perfect for my entry way. The stars aligned that day!

Painted bench makeover - the after

Fast forward 3 years-we sold that house and purchased this house and I didn’t have anywhere to put my bench…so it sat on my back patio….for years and years… and years. But now I spruced up my bench with a little paint and put it on my newly stained deck  and it’s perfect! (I’m taking down my curtains in the screened porch to wash them and was too lazy to move the ladder out of the shot).

Painted Bench Makeover

My husband needs someplace to sit when he’s grilling and I used to have a little red bistro set on the deck for that purpose. But I thought this bench would be much more comfortable for him.

painted bench with storage

Plus the seat lifts up and it’s a perfect place to stash his grilling tools (and get them out of my kitchen)!

Black painted bench on deck - before and after makeover

I used some black exterior paint I already had to paint it.  I decided to go with black for a variety of reasons. The deck color is called cedar but when it’s wet it can look almost pumpkin? Sometimes it looks brown sometimes it looks more orange – depends on the light (my husband is not fond of it but I’m not re-doing it).  Black was a color that looked good with the deck color. Also, you see the deck from a big picture window in the kitchen and my floors are black and white and my counters are black. So it helps to tie the two spaces together.

white garden bench

Here’s the before. It originally was some type of blond wood and I painted it white when we moved to this house.

container herb garden with washi tape herb markers

Next to the bench (on the other side of the steps leading to the backyard) is my container herb garden that I showed you how I planted here.

fern potted in a black urn

This potted fern is going to go next to the door leading into the screened in porch.

The deck is done! Yay one project is completed. Only about 20 more left to go before we can list this house! :)

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