Growing cayenne peppers. How to grow the cayenne pepper plant, Capsicum annuum. The best way to experience the benefits of cayenne herb is to grow your own hot pepper plants. Cooking with cayenne pepper.
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Growing Cayenne from Seed
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When growing cayenne peppers from seed, start them at least 8 weeks before you plan to plant them out.
It is better to start the seeds in 4 inch pots than to sow them all together in a flat. There is too much risk of root damage when the plants later need to be separated.
Place 2 or 3 seeds in each pot. Barely cover the seeds with potting mix. Water them in gently. Keep the pots warm and moist (but not wet) until the seeds sprout.
Once the seedlings are up, move the pots into bright light. Once they form their second set of leaves, remove all but the strongest plant from each pot by pinching the extras off just above the soil. Don’t pull the weak seedlings out as this may disturb the roots of the strong plants you are keeping.
Feed the cayenne red pepper transplants every 2 weeks with a water soluble plant food mixed up at half strength.
Transplant them into the garden once the roots have filled the 4 inch pots.
How to Grow Cayenne Peppers
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Choose a planting site that gets all day sun. Cayenne peppers that grow in shade will take forever to ripen and turn red. Pick a spot that will not be exposed to strong winds. Capsicum plants have thin leaves that will wilt badly in the wind.
Enrich the soil where you will be growing cayenne peppers with organic compost or composted manure prior to planting. Soil prepared in this fashion will hold moisture for far longer and the cayenne pepper plants will not wilt as quickly on summer’s hottest days.
Space the plants 18 inches apart. Keep the soil moist and feed the peppers with an organic fertilizer every 2-3 weeks.
If there is any problem with fruit set, sprinkle a teaspoon of Epsom salts on the soil around each cayenne pepper plant.
Cooking with Cayenne Pepper
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The fresh peppers can be used when they are green or red depending on how much heat you wish to impart to your dish. Cayenne, like most types of hot peppers, becomes more pungent as it ripens.
Wear latex gloves before chopping fresh cayenne peppers to keep the volatile capsaicin oil off your skin. Add the chopped cayenne fruit to any dish you want to spice up.
You can also dry the peppers and then grind them into a spicy cayenne pepper powder. Store the powder in jars and add it to foods sparingly.
This is the most flavorful way to enjoy the many health benefits of cayenne pepper.