You may be wondering whether you should you plant seeds or just go ahead and buy the pepper plants? Unless you are skilled and have a greenhouse, it makes sense to buy pepper and basil as plants at least at first. Numerous varieties of both peppers and basil at your local nursery, so don’t hesitate to try more than one.
Since the general requirements for sweet peppers and basil are similar, plant them together. Do not; however, plant sweet peppers within 20 feet of hot peppers or your sweet peppers are likely to be more hot than sweet. Avoid planting peppers where you planted eggplant, tomatoes, or potatoes the year before because all come from the same plant family. Both peppers and basil need a full sun location.
Transplants should have strong stout stems and dark green leaves. Do not get plants that are blooming because they will not produce well. Peppers take at least two months to set out plants so if you live in a northern region, be sure to choose early maturing varieties.
I prefer planting my peppers in beds and plant them eighteen inches apart. I then plant a basil plant between each of the pepper plants. If you live in a windy area consider planting them near okra which can serve as a windbreak for the delicate and often heavy laden sweet pepper plants. You may also want to stake your pepper plants. Sprinkle kelp powder in the planting hole and water well. Place cardboard collars around each stem to deter cutworms and push them at least an inch into the ground. (2 inch segments of toilet paper tubes are excellent for this purpose).
Plant pepper plants to the depth the plant was growing in the pot and tamp the plant into the ground firmly. Water well and water daily for the next week until the transplanted roots are established. Because peppers are tropical plants, they will not grow in cold temperatures. If the weather turns chilly, cover young plants with hot caps (quart canning jars work well for this) and remove them when temperatures rise above 70 degrees.
Sweet peppers, also known as bell peppers, are a garden favorite, second only to tomatoes. Basil is second only to dill as a favorite herb. Sweet peppers and basil make great companions both in the garden and in the kitchen. Plant sweet peppers and basil plants in late spring after all danger of frost is past. You’ll be able to snip off basil leaves whenever you want to add them to cooking, and once your peppers start to fruit, you’ll have peppers and basil. until frost.
Commonly called sweet basil, the culinary herb Ocimum basilicum of the family Lamiaceae, this plant was familiar to the ancient Greeks. Sweet Basil is used fresh in cooked recipes and should be added in the final minutes of cooking because cooking destroys the flavor. Basil is most flavorful if used fresh. Fresh basil can be kept in plastic bags in the refrigerator for a few days or in the freezer after a quick blanching in boiling water. Dried herbs lose much of their flavor so use fresh basil whenever possible.
Peppers like even watering, so once the soil has warmed, spread thick, but light mulch such as straw or grass clippings around the plants. Water them deeply during dry weather to encourage root development and remove any weeds. Though peppers are a tropical plant, they will wilt and drop blossoms, if this occurs add more mulch around plants.
If peppers demonstrate slow growth or pale leaves, a feeding of manure tea will help. Most pests do not bother pepper plants with one exception being the pepper weevil. The worms of this insect will chew holes in blossoms and buds causing misshaped fruit. Hand-pick pests and drop them in hot, soapy water.
To harvest basil, begin picking leaves as soon as the plant is large enough to spare them. Collect from the top leaves on the branches by cutting off several inches. Make sure to handle basil gently. For future use, basil can be air dried in small loose hanging bundles. Once it has been dried, remove the leaves from the stems and place the dried leaves into a bottle or plastic bag. Store them at room temperature in a dark location. They can also be packed in olive oil by mashing the leaves to create a paste. Freeze them in ice-cube trays for use in sauces and soups. You can also store this concoction in the refrigerator. You can also make a pesto of pureed basil, garlic, grated cheese and olive oil.
Sweet peppers become sweeter as they mature and turn from green to the mature colors of the pepper variety; however, any pepper can be picked and used green. Always cut rather than pull peppers from the plant. When frost is predicted, pull the plants by the roots and hang them in a cool dry place indoors so that the fruits can continue to ripen. This will give you time to process peppers. Peppers can be used in numerous dishes and canning recipes. They can also be cut up and put onto cookie sheets and frozen without blanching. Once frozen, transfer them to plastic bags and use peppers in cooking. (Do not thaw before cooking.)