Small pepper plants

Hi all. Returning to Usenet after many years, as well as to gardening.
I've had some early successes so far this year (Lettuce is doing nicely and some cherry tomatoes I started way too early in December have some nice fruits already).
I'm also growning peppers again, which I've tried in the past with minimal success. I'm in upstate NY, Zone 6, growing California Wonder bells and Hungarian Wax, both from a local seed company. I planted them in mid-January and started transplanting into my raised bed about a week or two ago. The area I've planted them in gets plenty of sun.
The trouble I've always run into has been that peppers for me have never grown much beyond about 9-12" and only set a few fruit. I was surprised to read recommendations for staking peppers.
I had a soil test done last fall, and the area has plenty of phosphorus, magnesium, and calcium. No notable deficiencies. The pH was 7.2, and I've since added a good bit of peat moss, partly to lower the pH but mostly to break up the clay soil.
I'm wondering if there's something obvious I'm doing wrong. Is there something I should be looking for that would explain why they haven't thrived?
Thanks in advance for any advice. It's nice to see such an active newsgroup still going strong.
~~Andrew
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Andrew T. wrote:

my green pepper experience (with the california wonder) is different from my red pepper experience.
so far, when i've amended the clay here for peppers the green peppers have reacted by growing a lot of green leaves, but not many peppers. when i've grown them in our clay and not amended they have produced plenty. [we now grow only a few green pepper plants because neither of us likes them much as compared to how much we like the red peppers instead. we also don't grow anything hot/spicy. Mom has no desire or tolerance for heat, i like some, but can get plenty from a bottle of hot sauce when desired]
the red peppers have all done great only after i've amended them (i use worms/wormpee/wormpoo). if i grow them in our normal clay soil they don't bear much at all.
peat moss has little actual nutrition and while the organic matter will help with the clay it tends to also end up making excellent bricks if you get a dry spell.
do you have full sun and warmth? enough water and good spacing?
i'll be planting out our peppers soon (the next few days once we get through some family events). they mostly need warmth/sunshine and we've had nights down into the 40sF yet (last week). this week has a few low 50sF, but at least no frost is looking likely.
one season we had a cold snap that took all the leaves off the pepper plants, but they sprouted back out and did ok.

:)
songbird
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I'm hoping to add some homemade compost to the bed soon, once it's ready. The peat partly to get the pH down a little, but is there a better way to amend clay to make it less bricky?
For nutrition, I've been using a 1-0-2 kelp fertilizer. I'm assuming I should expect a fairly deep green in the leaves. Some of them seem a bit on the pale side.

Probably the sunniest part of our back yard. As for water, it seems we've had a very wet spring this year in NY. I never kept any notes in the past (I've started doing that this year), so I not sure if that might have been a problem. I've just learned they like it humid, so maybe I should give them more water between the storms.
They might be a little closer than ideal, but I also have one in a good size pot, though that just went in a few days ago, so I'll see if there's a difference as the summer progresses. Do you know if peppers are sensitive to being root-bound? One year I played with growing tobacco (another nightshade) and everything I read about it was that it will barely grow at all if it's at all root-bound. When I transplanted one that was stuck at 2" tall, it had a huge root system and took off once it had more room. So I've been curious if peppers have similar tendencies, though I haven't seen roots to the edge of the containers when I've transplanted them.

I thought we were in the clear on sub-50 temps, but we had a low in the mid-40sF last night. Luckily I remembered and took in the potted (and to be planted) peppers and covered the ones in the raised bed to keep them a bit warmer.
~~Andrew
--
Andrew Turnquist
Rochester, New York, USA
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Andrew T. wrote:

...

i add sand and plenty of organic materials (pretty much anything i can get that will rot is good), wood ashes (silicates, some carbon chunks, increase the pH a bit). i layer them all and then as i garden for the next few years in that space it will gradually all get mixed together. the layers are down 12-24 inches depending upon how much of what i have. if i have anything extra i'll put that down deep as a carbon store if i need any later i can dig it up again and the worms and drainage are improved by having it. sometimes i get some interesting fungi digesting the woody materials. after a single season most stuff i bury looks like a peat moss type material. i only do this in a new garden space as it can be a lot of work, but from then on i usually don't disturb a garden quite so much and only as i go through and bury the garden debris from a season. so only 1/10 to 1/5 of a garden may get dug out much as i rotate my plantings through it. just depends upon how much organic materials i get to work with.
i've yet to test the soil here other than by visual inspection and noting what is changing as the years go by. in most gardens the changes are also shown by diversity of life and how many worms are in there when i do any digging during the spring. the soil is many shades darker now than it was before. the veggies that used to struggle and looked poorly have kept improving (beets seemed to be a good indicator species for me - when i first was growing them the leaves were often full of holes and not very big, pale areas, etc. now they grow pretty well in most gardens).

i've kept it simple here with using the worm stuff and if i can i will top dress with some alfalfa or birdsfoot trefoil clippings, but i don't always get to that and i've not really noticed a huge difference within a season (but i do notice the difference over the longer haul).

it varies by type from what i've experienced.

i don't do much at all in pots so i can't answer this question from personal experience, yet i do know that some people do grow certain peppers in pots and seem to be ok with it. seems like it is the smaller tobasco types. i'm not recalling anything about the rest of the varieties. George might have more to say about this. :)

we just had some hail so i'll be interested to see what the morning brings. last year or the year before we had hail that shredded some of the squash plants but did very little damage to the peppers or anything else for that matter, so i'm not too worried. the squash plants didn't seem all that bothered by it either.
maybe more rain this evening if we're lucky.
songbird
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