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Garden Lifestyle

Picking a Peck of Paprika Peppers

Pepper plants are grown as annuals, but they’re actually perennial plants that can grow indoors during the winter.

These paprika peppers needed a few more weeks of sunshine to ripen when the weather turned cold. Moving the container inside to a sunny window helped save the crop and gave me an idea for over-wintering the plant.  
Photo/Illustration: Jodi Torpey

The summer sped by so quickly, it’s hard to believe the now-empty garden was full of vegetables and herbs just a few short weeks ago. One of the reasons the season whizzed by is that it took longer than usual for the weather to warm. That meant heat-loving plants, like peppers and tomatoes, didn’t get growing until summer was well on its way.

The season was so slow, I wondered if I’d have any vegetables to harvest.

Denver has an average of 155 frost-free days, which sounds like there would be plenty of time for planting, growing, and harvesting just about any fruit or vegetable.

However, during those days, the temperatures can remain too cold for growing some of my favorite vegetables. That’s why it took so long for the pot of paprika peppers to mature. In early October, all of the peppers were still bright green when they should have been ruby-red.

A weather forecast of the first freeze of the season, meant I had to do something if I wanted to save these peppers for drying and grinding. Instead of trying to cover the container with a sheet or a quilt, I brought it inside and placed it in a sunny window, hoping they would ripen indoors.

It took a few extra weeks of warm sunshine, but those green peppers are now ready to pick. But I’m especially surprised to see that several new little peppers are starting to form. Because peppers are perennial plants in warmer climates, I’m interested to see if I can over-winter this paprika plant.

I’ll keep it in this sunny window and make sure it has just the right amount of water and fertilizer. With a little luck, and several months of Colorado sunshine, I’ll be able to keep the peppers producing through the winter and then move the plant back outside late next spring.

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