Tips & Techniques for Growing Peppers
Purple Bell Peppers
Hornworm Eating Peppers
Varieties of Peppers
Peppers are classified as either sweet peppers or hot peppers.  There are several types of sweet peppers including bell, pimento, and banana.  Bell peppers can be green, yellow, red or purple.  Although, all of them will produce red peppers if left on the plant long enough.  They vary in flavor, size and wall thickness.  Hot peppers come in various sizes, shapes and degree of hotness.  Some are very hot, e.g. the habanero, while others are barely hot at all, e.g. the mild chili pepper.  One of my favorite hot peppers is the mild jalapeno.  You can find them in the seed catalogs under several different names.  They look like a regular jalapeno except larger; taste like jalapenos but have very little heat.   Most peppers are hybrids but you can find open pollinated varieties.  Seeds saved from open pollinated varieties, including heirlooms, should germinate to produce new plants similar to their parents.  Hybrids are developed by cross breeding to improve selected characteristics.  You can save seeds from hybrids but they will not necessarily have the same characteristics as the hybrid.
Preparing the Soil
Pepper plants do best if the soil around them is loose and free of weeds.  Planting them in rows, tilling the middles and hoeing between the plants is one way of accomplishing this.  There are several techniques for laying out straight rows.  A simple and easy way is to mark off the rows using a string tied to a stick at both ends.  Using a hoe, make a straight shallow trench beneath the string to guide you in planting later.   In picking a location for sweet peppers, it is best to not locate them next to kohlrabi.  Also, don't plant mild peppers next to hot ones, if you plan to save seed.  Otherwise, your mild peppers next year may end up being hot.  
Planting Peppers
Setting out pepper plants works better than planting seed directly in the garden.  You can buy plants or grow your own.  If you choose to grow them, you will need to start the plants early, i.e. about 3 months before planting time.  You can purchase seed from the various seed companies or save your own from the previous year's crop. Keep in mind that if you planted several varieties next to each other, they may have cross pollinated and you will get a hybrid with less than desirable characteristics.  Buying seeds is more reliable allowing you to avoid some bad seed problems and provides a greater choose of varieties. Pepper plants can be grown in a green house, a hot bed or in the house on a stand using plastic trays and grow lamps to provide both warmth and light.  Full spectrum grow lights work better than plain florescent lamps but either can be used.  Wait until there is no chance of frost before transplanting them into the garden.  The plants have a better chance of surviving, if they are at least 3 inches high.  Plants should be spaced about one foot apart to allow the plants to branch out and get adequate sun.
Weeding & Plant Maintenance
Pepper plants require little maintenance.  It is limited primarily to tilling and hoeing to control weeds.  Most of the weeds in a pepper row can be removed by hoeing but a few next to the plants will have to be pulled.  You will need to till and hoe about three or four times before the plants get large enough to start producing.  An occasional weed may come up after that which will need to be removed.  Peppers should require no additional care, unless you encounter problems with pests.
Controlling Diseases and Insects
Based on my experience, peppers are easy to grow without too many problems with diseases and pests. However, they are susceptible to bacteria, viruses spread by aphids and fungal diseases.  Pest can include mites, flies, aphids, cutworms and even the tomato hornworm.  I have had some problems with the hornworms eating peppers but not enough to merit using an insecticide.  Tomato hornworms are controlled somewhat by parasitic wasps.  If you find that a fungicide or insecticide is needed, make sure you pick one for the specific problem and that can be used on garden vegetables.  Always read and follow the directions on the containers when applying chemicals on garden plants. For specific details on controlling diseases and pests, click on the "Gardening Resources" tab and go to the Sources of Information on Vegetable Garden Diseases and Pests.
Peppers should be picked when they reach the desirable stage of maturity.  Young and tender pods taste best.  You can break or cut the peppers off the plants.  Store them in a cool place and check periodically for any signs of rot.  Peppers can be eaten fresh, cut up and frozen or canned.  Hot chili peppers can be dried and crushed.  If you want to save some seed, leave a few peppers on the plants until they turn red.  You can then remove the seed, wash them and place them on a paper towel to dry.