1. how do I know when my purple peppers are ready to pick? They started off green and then they got kind of purplish now they're turning yellow. Will they turn purple again? 2. Something keeps eating my kale and collards. Is there a natural solution to get rid of these pests?
Howard County Maryland
Peppers should be ready to pick once they have fully turned the color that variety is supposed to turn (for aesthetics, at least), so they may be left on the plant too long or possibly not long enough. As an example, one of the seed companies says this of a purple bell variety: "Fruits ripen through a showy stage of violet, yellow and orange streaks, eventually turning a rich, very dark red." For that particular variety, the ripe pepper photo looks more purple than actually red, but there's no telling how mature those peppers are and when they were picked. Therefore, it's a bit complicated, and you may want to experiment by letting one fruit keep changing colors to see what you get.
Yellowing could also be sunburn/sunscald or another issue; are you able to send photos of their colors and the name of the variety you are growing?
Multiple insects or slugs/snails could be chewing holes in kale and collard leaves. Without knowing which culprit is responsible, we cannot recommend the most appropriate and effective control measures. Check the leaves in damp weather and/or at night to see if anything has come out of hiding to feed in more hospitable conditions. The most environmentally-friendly approach is to simply pick off pests when seen, but of course they have to be found first. Exclusionary tactics like using floating row covers can physically block pests from getting to the crop, but they work best before the pest has already appeared; using them afterwards might risk trapping the pest inside where it can do more damage.
Most pesticides safe for edible gardens are not repellent or absorbed for future use; they only impact what they contact, so if the pests are not around at the time, they will provide minimal to no benefit. If you spot something causing the damage, feel free to send us photos (you can reply to this message) for identification and control tips.