If you like to eat Japanese food then you probably know about the Shishito peppers. These are thin-skinned peppers with mildly spicy taste. You can fry them and your delicious peppers are ready to eat. The best thing is, they get matured in few days and you can easily grow them at home. Growing shishito peppers does not require you to learn any special pepper growing skills. Just read this article and start growing Japanese shishito peppers even in containers.
About Shishito peppers
In Japanese Shishito means lion. I do not why they name it lion pepper. But they like to eat it at least once a day. Most of the Japanese house owners have containers of Growing shishito peppers in their houses.
I first started growing them 7 years ago when I was studying in Pensacola, Florida. There I met a Japanese friend and he introduced me to these delicious peppers. He used to eat them daily with meals.
These peppers are good for the digestive system and for eyes sight.
Shishito pepper is a small plant it only grows 2 feet tall and spread 14 inches wide. Every plant will produce 3 to 4 inches long peppers. This plant-like to live in warm weather. The harvesting season starts in July and stretches until the first frost. After that, they die due to the drop in temperature.
Their thin skin makes them an ideal crop for quick frying. Matured peppers are red in color whereas baby pepper is green. You can fry them or eat raw baby pepper. Unmatured pepper is less spicy and more juice them red matured shishito peppers.
If we compare it with jalapeno then shishito peppers are less spicy.
Growing shishito peppers from seeds
Shishito peppers are a warm-season crop. You need to wait until the outside temperature rise before placing them in an outdoor garden. Plant them outside after 10 days of the last frost. But doing so will delay the mature period and also shorten your harvesting period.
Therefore, the best option is to start seeds indoors in seedling trays. Once they start sprouting and become healthy seedlings, they transfer them to the outdoor garden.
For that, you need to use grow lights to fully fill the light requirement of seeds. If you do not have a grow light then the best place will be a sunny window. Pepper seeds need few hours of sunlight daily.
Take a seed starting tray and moist the tray cells by misting water. Sow them a quarter-inch deep and place the tray in the warm temperature. It is best if you invest in seedlings heat mats. Then place the heating mat under the tray and turn it ON. The release by mat will keep the seeds warm and they will sprout fast and easily.
75 to 85 degrees F is the ideal seed germination temperature. Install thermometer in the room to know about the temperature. When you see half of your seeds are sprouted then turn OFF the seedling heat mat.
Do not forget to water the seedlings you need to keep the soil moist all the time. Remember that shishito peppers need 16 hours of minimum light per day. Fertilize seedlings with diluted organic fertilizer. Let the seedlings in the seed starting tray until each of them develop few leaves.
About one week before transplanting start the hardening off process. This will make the seedlings strong enough and they tolerate the sunlight and strong winds.
Transplanting the seedlings in the outdoor garden
It does not matter you buy the seedlings from the market or you sprout seeds at home. 10 days after the last spring frost is the time to transplant them in the outdoor garden. You also need to check the outside temperature if it is cool then wait for 4 to 5 days and check again. When the outside temperature comes to 70 degrees F then you can transfer them outside.
Choose the best place for Growing shishito peppers. They need full sun for a minimum of 7 hours per day. The soil has to be well-draining and rich in organic matter. Amend the garden soil with organic compost to make it fertile for growing Japanese shishito peppers.
Plant the seedlings 20 inches apart. Bury them a little deeper than they are in the pots. After planting them give them some water. If the weather changes and the temperature drops. Then cover the plants with a plastic cover. This will keep the plants warm enough to survive on cool days.
Make sure the cover does not touch the plant. Install supports for the cover so that it stays above the pepper plant.
Once the weather settles remove the cover from the plants.
Growing Japanese shishito peppers in pots
The good news is shishito peppers are easy to grow and maintain in grow bags and containers. In the case of containers, you need 12 inches wide pot. Also makes sure your pot has a drainage hole, it is required to save plants from accidental overwatering. If you have large buckets at home, you can use them for Growing shishito peppers. The only condition is you have to use a drill and make a hole at the base of the bucket.
Fill the pot or bucket with a high-quality potting mix that has some organic matter in it. Then add some slow-releasing fertilizer to it. This will help the seedlings to grow fast and healthy.
Now transfer the seedlings to their new container and give some water. In the initial stage, these plants need support. So, use a tomato cage or bamboo stick to support them.
Growing shishito peppers
Shishito peppers do not need much care and maintenance to grow mature. But you have to follow some kind of care routine. Below is the part that will help you to care for your Japanese peppers.
For outdoor growing Japanese peppers, you need to water them once a week. The frequency of watering depends on various factors. The temperature of the day, type of soil directly affects the watering needs of plants.
For example, if you have clay-type soil in your garden. Then you need to waterless. Because the clay soil holds the water for more days than other types of soils.
For container plants, you need to water them every day or other day. Again, the type of soil you use will decide the watering needs of a plant. At higher temperatures, the soil becomes dry quickly. This increases the water demands of plants.
The last thing is the quality of water. Rainwater is best for all types of plants. But you have to use other waters also. For ground rooted plants normal tap water is good but for container plants use fresh clean and drinkable water only. Do not use tap water for container Growing shishito peppers.
Because in some parts of the country the tap water contains heavy minerals. Chlorine and other salts are not good for container plants. They get collected in the root area and block the absorption of nutrients.
If you add slow-releasing fertilizer to the soil then you do not need to fertilize your plants. Otherwise, the liquid organic fertilizer is best for Growing shishito peppers. These nutrients need to be diluted with water before use.
Do not use them in highly concentrated form this will burn the pepper plant in a single day.
Common problems with Shishito peppers
Blossom end rot
This is not a deadly disease it is caused by a calcium deficiency in plants. In some cases, plant stress also triggers the blossom end rot. To prevent this condition water the container plants with constant routine. On hot days of summer mulch, the plant with shredded leaves. This will help the soil to retain the moisture for a long time.
These are the sapsuckers. They drink the plant nutrients and your plant becomes nutrient deficient. This is the main reason for plants that die due to pest infections. They lay eggs on the undersides of the plant leaves. To get rid of them use rubbing alcohol and wipe the plants.
If the problem is worst then use insecticidal soap and wash your plant with it. If you have ladybugs in your garden then you do not need to worry about the aphids. They are the favorite food of ladybugs.
At last, you can use pesticides. But before using them, separate the infected plant from other healthy plants.
How to Harvesting Shishito Peppers?
These peppers mature before the other type of peppers. It will take 60 to 65 days to get matured. After that, you can start picking the green shishito peppers. If you like to eat fully ripe peppers then you have to wait for 3 weeks more.
Once you fry them, they become crispy and sweet-spicy to eat.
I do not wait long for harvesting my shishito peppers plants. As long as they become large enough to eat, I start harvesting them.
To enjoy them with chicken. Firstly, take a pan and add olive in it and turn on the stove to a low heat setting. Then add pepper to it and fry them. For best taste, you can sprinkle sea salt.
I hope you understand every point and now you can start growing Japanese peppers. If you have any questions write us.