The bell pepper, also known as the sweet pepper, is a cultivar of the pepper (Capsicum annum). They are attractive plants that eventually ripen to display beautifully colored fruit in green, red, orange and sometimes yellow. It can be grown in small plant containers in a sunny spot in the balcony garden. One plant per gallon container will yield five to 10 bell peppers.
Harvesting Bell Peppers. After two to three months, your plants will start displaying small white flowers, and fruit will begin to grow. Once the fruit gets large enough (about 4 to 5 inches long), clip the pepper off at the stem with shears or sharp scissors. You can also let the fruit ripen on its own on the vine, although this will result in fewer fruits. But if the fruit ripens on the vine it will be sweeter than if harvested early and ripens later.
To maximize bell pepper fruit production, pick bell peppers more frequently earlier in the season. The peppers are still edible when they’re small (pick them at about 2 inches long), and picking them when they’re small will allow the plant to grow more and larger fruit later on in the season. Keep growing and harvesting bell peppers from your balcony garden until the first frost.
As the fruit ripens, the color of the fruit will change (this also depends on the specific cultivar). The container plant will develop its bright color as it ages (all bell peppers start off as green). The skin will also get thicker as the fruit ages.
Red peppers take longer to ripen, which is why they’re more expensive in the store. If you want a pepper to have its bright color, allow it to just begin to change colors. Then remove the pepper from the vine and ripen it fully in a warm place. You can also leave it on the vine to completely ripen.
Storing Bell Peppers. To store bell peppers, keep them in a paper bag in the fridge. Keep them away from other fruits and do not keep them in plastic bags because fruits give off ethylene gas, which will cause the peppers to go bad faster. The peppers can last one to two weeks in the fridge.
Nutrients, Vitamins and Taste. Bell pepper taste is different depending on color. Green bell peppers are bitter compared to the sweet red, yellow and orange peppers. Red peppers also have more nutrients than green peppers (twice the vitamin C).