Let everyone else grow tomatoes. The caliente taste and smell of a crisp, perfectly ripe, shiny red, green, or yellow pepper is the savvy urban gardener’s pick. Peppers, like New Yorkers, are hardy, independent, and can thrive in cramped spaces. Tomatoes, by comparison, are wusses. They bruise easily, and you practically have to beg them to continue to produce fruit through the summer. Puh-leez. Who has the time?
According to Chelsea Garden Center’s Phil Tietz, if you plant peppers on a balcony or windowsill now, you’ll be rolling your crop into burritos by late July. First, buy seedlings: Those sold in four-inch pots are already well on their way but still small enough to give lots of growing satisfaction. Once they’re yours, replant by pairs in a container that’s at least fourteen inches. Then keep your seedlings in full sun. It’s the water, Tietz says, that calls for restraint. Dry soil on top is okay, but it shouldn’t go more than an inch deep. Feed your pepper plant every two weeks with MiracleGro, and in about a month, you’ll see the fruits of your labors.