Top Of The Crops - Peppers and Chillis

Growing Peppers and Chillies in a Polytunnel

Peppers come in a wide range of sweet and spicy varieties, from bell peppers to the most fiery of chillies. While it is near impossible to grow peppers outside in most of the UK, unless you have a particularly warm and sunny spot in your garden, a polytunnel can be the perfect place to grow these flavoursome crops. The key thing is to start early, as peppers need a long growing season. Starting seeds indoors early in the year will mean that you can harvest peppers of all kinds from your polytunnel in the late summer and autumn and enjoy them in a wide range of different recipes.

Sowing and Growing Requirements for Peppers and Chillies

Peppers and chillies really do need the heat but since they also take a long time to grow to maturity and fruit, they must be sown indoors in a propagator or warm spot in February or March. Transplant each seedling into a 7-9cm pot when two true leaves have formed and then pot up in mid-late May. You may then continue to grow in containers, or place peppers into the soil in your polytunnel. Bell peppers and other plants which bear heavier fruits may need to be staked and tied in. This will depend on the variety. Pinch out the tops of the pepper plants when they are around 20cm tall to encourage them to bush out.

Pepper plants will need a lot of sun and a soil that stays warm and moist. F1 hybrids allow UK growers to grow these warm weather crops – the down side is that they will not come true from seed and so new pepper seeds will have to be chosen each year and you will not be able to collect your own. There are plenty of different bell peppers and chilli peppers to choose from, depending on what you are looking for.

Organic mulches can help to add fertility and retain soil moisture. Keep your pepper plants well watered and when the first fruits begin to appear, provide the plants with a high potash organic feed. Keep the humidity in the tunnel relatively high and never allow the soil to dry out. A ground cover companion crop like basil can also help to retain soil moisture.

Harvesting Peppers and Chillies

You may begin to pick the fruits as and when they are required. They can be picked when green to prolong and increase the yield or left to mature fully. Fruits will change from green to yellow, sometimes to orange or red as they mature. Leaving fruits to fully mature will reduce the yield but mature fruits can be left on the plants and then dried for use over the winter. Take care when harvesting and preparing strong chillies as they can sting if accidentally rubbed in the eye.

< Back

January Growing Guides

Swipe to scroll through tabs

About First Tunnels

We’re a close-knit bunch of skilled professionals who take an enormous pride in the quality and versatility of our products, But we’re enthusiasts too - we use our own products, and that means we’ve introduced lots of improvements and innovations over the years…based on first-hand everyday practical experience. We work hand-in hand with top growing experts. We even have our own allotment for some seriously hands-on gardening, often accompanied by communal summer and winter barbecues because all work and no play would be very dull!

Polytunnel Community

Reviewed by you, Followed by you, Liked by you and listened to by us. We have a strong online polytunnel community, 35k Facebook Fans, 10k Twitter Followers and over 3m YouTube Views. Our community of dedicated, passionate Polytunnel gardening friends, love to share their sowing tips, growing hints and harvesting secrets with each other. But more importantly for you, as a customer or a potential customer, you can post your comments in all their glory or gory details. Come and join the Polytunnel family.

Construction Help & Advice

Our six man construction team has a wealth of polytunnel construction knowledge and are more than happy to share tips and advice with any of our customers. Many of the team have been quite literally 'hands on' developing the First Tunnels vast array of construction videos and in depth instruction guides. Our construction team are available to answer your questions and help in whatever way they can. Simply call 01282 601253 on week days between 9am-5pm...PLUS weekend cover on 07801 601253, between 9am-5pm.

Frequently Asked Questions

We are proud of our products and the time that we have put in to making sure that all our products are first class. We understand that purchasing a polytunnel is a considerable investment, and whilst we have lots of help and advice on this site, Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and blog pages many people like to compare and contrast before they commit their hard earned cash to buying. To this end we have compiled a list of the most common questions and provide 10 top reasons why First Tunnels Polytunnels is the top choice.

Getting Growing

Part of the fun of owning a polytunnel is picking the brains of people who really know how to make the most of the real growing potential. So we're making it easy for you...with some of the best brains in the business! This site now includes features, produced exclusively for First Tunnels by Andy McKee and Mark Gatter - best-selling authors of 'How to grow food in your Polytunnel' and 'The Polytunnel Handbook'. We also have videos from BBC’s Gardeners’ Question Time presenter, Paul Peacock. We also have a host of growing guides from Sam Youd, presenter & judge for the Royal Horticultural Society & Tatton Park Head Gardener.

Other Useful Stuff

What better way to learn about company dependability, product quality and customer service than to hear it straight from other consumers? By giving customers the opportunity to share their First Tunnels shopping experience, we believe this is the best reflection of our companies’ product and service. To help reinforce credibility, popularity and reputation, we have subscribed to not one, not two...but THREE independent review companies. We value all feedback, good, bad or ugly and hope to build a long lasting relationship with our customer, through our high quality products and friendly service, to ensure they do not hesitate to order again and again with First Tunnels in the future.