Along with tomatoes, eggplants, and ground cherries, peppers are members of the nightshade family. They're available in an impressive range of colors and shapes; not to mention the range of heat.
Peppers need a lot of heat to germinate; we didn't have any luck with them before we started using the heating mat. Start them 8-10 weeks before last frost (second half of March here). Plant them out when temperatures reach the 70s, 12" apart in rows 24" apart. While I understand that nitrogen-rich fertilizer leads to leaf growth at the expense of fruits, in general I find that the more nutrients I supply pepper plants the better they do. Many cultivars grow too large for their stems and roots; sweet peppers can benefit from staking, and the more branchy hot peppers from cage support.