Fall gardening Frost/Freeze map and tips Peppers

Are You Still Harvesting Peppers After the Freeze? You Could Be.

Peppers are one of the strongest plants in the garden. They want to survive and produce. And they do.

Two inch seedlings can sit and wait two months for the right conditions to grow. Then they quickly grow into bushy 3 to 6 feet plants depending on the variety.

Even seedlings planted in the “not-so-great” parts of the garden, give it their all and produce fruit.

If conditions are not right for producing fruit, they’ll keep growing until conditions ARE right. When that happens they produce dozens of peppers so heavy they’d break the plant apart without stakes for support.

These peppers were produced in only one month. Seven stakes give support. Click picture to enlarge.

Finally, what I wait for all season: red peppers!

Sweet red peppers can last for weeks if held in a cool spot. Above, the smaller deep red peppers are Stocky Red Roasters. (They’re the sweetest this year.).The larger ones that haven’t completely finished turning red are Corno di Toro or Marconi.

When frost is expected I’ll harvest almost all that are beginning to turn red and a few large green peppers for good measure. Then I’ll cover plants with row cover cloth to extend the season.

Usually we’ll have nice weather for another month, with an occasional night at 30 to 32 degrees.

This year rather than a first frost, we had a 28 degree freeze. Of course that wilted the leaves and plants no longer looked beautiful.

The amazing thing is the peppers are always fine. They stay firm and crisp AND they continue to mature to red peppers for weeks until another severe freeze finishes them.

Peppers still firm and crisp days even weeks after the freeze.  Click picture to enlarge.


This red pepper turned red almost a week after the freeze. It was perfect. Marconi is the variety.

Final Thoughts

Imagine a plant maturing dozens of quality fruits even when the vegetation is wilted from a freeze.

I should be eating sweet red peppers into December and nothing makes me happier.

Sweet red peppers. Typical bell shaped peppers are Buran. The smaller ones are Stocky Red Roasters.


Related Posts:

Peppers – Eating Fresh from the Garden Through December

Peppers – It Ain’t Necessarily So

Peppers – Lush Growth – No Fruit and Other Problems

Growing Peppers – Ideas to Consider for This Season


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  • Very interesting. I’ve always pulled peppers after first wilt but I now have my new experiment for next year.

    Thanks once again Theresa

    Ray Kent

  • Me too,
    Theresa I have always assumed all those baby peppers just died after a heavy enough frost to kill the leaves. I will just need to see what happens as well. I have maybe cut the plant down prematurely and lost the potential for hundreds of peppers. What gives? No one has ever mentioned this that I recall. You are a genius.

    Hope your Thanksgiving was great.

  • Ray, when you experiment next year, keep in mind that you will loose some of the peppers to each freeze. Just discard those and keep your eyes on the ones that are great.

    If you cover them with row cover cloth (or whatever) for the first freeze (and keep them covered) you’ll end up with more peppers in the long haul. But even without a cover you’ll still get good ones.

    Again, I harvested a few today. There were 3 peppers on an extended branch — 2 had succumbed to the freeze last night and 1 (which had been protected by the other 2) was just perfect. That’s just an example of what can happen.

    Steve, I loved your comment. I sure wish I were a genius, but unfortunately you have to substitute the word “hungry” instead of “genius”.

    My guess is the reason you’ve never seen this information is because the folks out there writing have never been hungry enough to find that out. Same thing with the various things I’ve written about how to keep lettuce eatable in the heat.

    Although I never liked poverty, Bill and I experienced it for more than 20 years. I owe almost all my garden knowledge to that poverty. When you’re hungry and have nothing, you learn a lot about what you can do.

    And I have to say before ending, comments are my favorite parts of posting! Without doubt I have the best readers in the entire world!

    A BIG HUG to EACH of YOU!!

  • Envious! How wonderful to have fresh peppers at this time of year. Amazing. I am curious about those stakes, Theresa. It looks like you are using 2-3 per plant. Is that right? Also, how are they supporting the plant? It doesn’t look like you are using ties but rather pulling parts through the stake holes. The peppers I grew a while ago never got to be over 2ft tall and they didn’t need stakes. However, these peppers look SO good that I’d like to see how we could grow them sometime.

  • The plant in the picture has 7 stakes!!
    I use old stockings cut in strips to tie them to the stakes. They are mainly tied when they begin to grow. After that I just support the heavy branches and tie if needed.

  • That is simply amazing that you still have peppers!
    I will try that next year for sure.
    My peppers this year succumbed to some kind of disease, while the starts I gave my friend Trish, that I also started from seed produced such gigantic, succulent, sweet, and flavorful peppers. I am beginning to think I should let the professionals grow my food 🙂
    My climate starts raining with virtually NO sunshine in late October and the sun doesn’t peak back out til July. It looks like the plants just turn to mush.
    It warms my heart to see such beautiful plants in your photos.

  • Theresa

    I live in Michigan where it is quite colder than where you are, but I just ate the last of my peppers last week. Liz loves what she calls stuffed peppers, but they are just seeded and deveined Jalapenos cut in half lengthwise and stuffed with cheese. I boil the peppers first to soften them up a little and then microwave until the cheese melts.

    They are great for PuPu’s (Hawaiian) for apetitizers.

    Love Don

  • Don, those peppers sound delicious! Do the Jalapenos loose some of that extreme heat when they’re cooked?
    If they stay real hot I might have to try that recipe with another pepper that’s not hot.
    Thanks Don. And tell Liz I said hello.

  • Harvest all of mine before the freeze and put them in mesh bags. They will ripen just hanging. When they eventually start to dry out, they are put in the fridge, still the mesh bag. Have some there now, still ripening. Get enough ripe ones to put in salads until the end of December.

  • We wrap our stuffed jalepeno peppers with bacon out here in Central Texas ; )
    And yes they are still hot and you will lose some of the cheese –
    Thanks Theresa for the pepper suggestion. I have left mine in the ground and so far so good-just wish they weren’t all the hot variety

  • Thanks for the information. We are growing bell peppers in southern Illinois and just got a 30 degree morning with a beautiful forecast for the next two weeks. We will take your advice and see what happens. Any advice about frost covers? Also fertilizers and cover crop you use for bell peppers. Have a great day.

  • You can use row cover fabric to cover/wrap your pepper plants to protect from frosts. The thicker the row cover fabric, the more it will protect the peppers.
    See pictures of how I do it here: https://tendingmygarden.com/november-garden-extending-the-season-peppers-tomatoes-eggplant-and-other-notes/
    I use nature’s gifts to “fertilize” my soil rather than purchased fertilizer. Organic materials that decay enhance soil fertility. (Just one of its many benefits.) Leaves, pine, straw, crop residue, etc. Leaves are my favorites, although I add whatever I have.
    I’m not sure I understood correctly about a “cover crop (to) use for bell peppers”. Any cover crop will help enrich your soil.
    Here are two strategies you might find useful using winter rye. https://tendingmygarden.com/winter-rye-as-a-cover-crop-2-strategies/ While the peppers are growing you could even use buckwheat.

  • I missed a few pepper on the vine after the frost,can I still eat them? any suggestion on how too cook them?

  • I’ve harvested many a pepper after a frost.
    If they’re nice and firm they last a while.
    If they’re a little soft you need to use them as soon as possible.
    I eat peppers mostly raw (chopped with other vegetables) but
    if you want a simple way to use them cooked — just cut up or chop
    and saute. You can use with rice, or ground beef, etc.

    Hope this helps.

  • Thanks a lot for the advice. This is my second year gardening and this year I start from scratch with my peppers. They didn’t do so great actually, they started off sprouting out perfectly until I let get some outdoor light. I allowed them to stay out overnight with was a bad idea cause the overnight frost just ruined them. But I’ll be sure to use a cover, I just don’t know what I was thinking the other night. Thank you again for the advice.

  • Theresa, I am planning on potting up my pepper plants this year to get an earlier harvest next summer. Curious, do you pot yours up or start from seed every year? If you do pot them up, I assume you don’t have any problem doing that in the November time frame once they stop producing? I was planning on potting them up before the first frost date, but after reading this, I’m curious to know if I can wait another month or so such that I don’t trade the late season harvest for an early summer harvest. Thanks so much. Matt

  • Matt,
    I love the idea of holding peppers over to get an early start to next year’s season. Unfortunately, peppers like warm temperatures and my house in the dead of winter seldom gets above 55º or 58ºF. Also they require really bring light. I can’t provide that for them either. Although years ago I tried anyway. And of course, they didn’t like it.

    Thus I start from seed each year.

    If you have enough pepper plants maybe you could try some before the first frost and some after. A safer bet that way on having some plants ready to go next spring.

    Either way — before the last frost or into November — you have a 50-50 chance. It just depends on what variables the weather will present.

    When you pot up your plants don’t disturb the roots anymore than necessary. And rather than adding additional dirt to your pot — I’d add compost to fill in.

    Wishing you much success with this endeavor!! Let me know how you do.


  • we just had 4 days of 27 to 30 degrees, which is odd for New Orleans I took all of the reddish ones before and all of the green ones seem shriveled like all of their moisture is gone..I started to cut them off figuring even a green cayenne has good flavor but I left a bunch untouched is it possible since the weather is good to warm up the plant will rebound and continue to produce? the shriveled green ones, are they edible? I would assume so.

  • Scott,
    I’ve eaten cayenne peppers that have started to shrivel many a time. And they still give that nice hot flavor to various dishes. When cayenne peppers are dried — that shriveling is the first stage as they dry.

    And the ones I dried and kept in a dark glass container in a cool place (NOT the refrigerator) lasted me for a coupe of years

    Peppers can surprise you and although it’s not likely they will rebound and continue to produce — it is definitely possible. Virginia is not as warm as New Orleans, but I’ve had peppers make it through some freezing weather and rebound.

    Bottom line – you won’t know until you try.

    The ones left on the plant that are shriveled will not un-shrivel.

    Hope this helps.

  • I noticed sometimes green peppers ripen to red on the counter. But not every green pepper does.

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