I’ve been binge-watching more Japanese cultivation method videos, and realized a singular important fact — they always prune their fruiting crops. With solace, tomatoes are relatively straight forward. And I learned Europe’s method for how to train cherry tomatoes to 4-vines. A few years ago that has been working well, but pepper’s and eggplants had been a mystery to me. I just couldn’t see how topping a pepper plant would be of any benefit. Since I would have thought that would just immediately initiate mass sucker growths, and just getting eggplants to grow have been difficult, to begin with.
I learned a few tricks for eggplants, too, but THIS thread is about how to support bell peppers. Apparently, all Solanaceae have a tendency to grow a strong sucker shoot just below the very first blossom. Now I had been taught a while back that you should ALWAYS remove tomato suckers from below the first floral truss. I had (naturally?) assumed this would apply to peppers and eggplants, too…. This may or may not have created a mental block that prevented me from arriving. At the following nifty technique on my own.
The way they train/prune bell peppers in Japan, is to use the natural tendency to grow this strong sucker shoot just below the first blossom to create a strong scaffold branch that will equal the leader shoot, then encourage a 2nd scaffold branch by allowing one more sucker to grow from the first blossom node … REMOVING all other suckers BELOW. …According to the video I’ve been watching, you would then stake the 1 main stem/leader with a stake. At an angle and support the scaffold branches with greenhouse batten tape strung along with a support system. But here is a different method using two stakes at an angle for the branches. I think small/medium tomato cages would probably work for this plant structure as well.
The other IMPORTANT fundamental gem that probably doesn’t apply for imafan26 but I will include here anyway for others like me scheduling around last average frost, is that both peppers and eggplants benefit from keeping the soil warm until the plant grows into a strong “tree” — THIS apparently is why my peppers and eggplants fail to thrive and grow into the huge, productive monsters some of you have been talking about. …this is all in Japanese and obviously conventional not organic practices… (c.e. several ad breaks) He talks a lot and repeats himself, but also takes time to explain visually as well.
He seems to start almost all warm-season crops under a low hoop tunnel on raised wide rows covered with plastic mulch. And later uses the eggplant and pepper hoops (not removing them) to string the tape for supporting upper branches/fruits. First half is eggplants — in a later video, he LIMTS those to grow to about 5 feet, then prunes them down to 70 cm/height of the hoops around mid-August to avoid hurricane damage as well as to encourage “fall” eggplants which he said will develop from new shoots by mid-late September. 2nd half of the video is about bell peppers which are basically trained in a similar way (but he doesn’t prune those down since he said peppers start setting fruits again after summer heat abates around mid-August and the worst of the heat is over).