Capsicums are second to tomatoes on my list of top vegetable to grow in Summer. I love the wide variety of plants available, the versatility of the fruit when harvested, as well as the flavour scale which ranges from bitter to spicy hot.
Capsicums belong to the Solancea family, the same family group as tomatoes, potatoes and eggplants. They are a main ingredient in many chutney and relish recipes and as such will never go to waste if you mange to grow so many that you have a glut.
I enjoy the bright, lively colours of capsicum : green, red, orange, yellow and purple. They add a fresh appeal to meals and a point of interest and topic of conversation for the kids.
I have had no luck this year raising a single plant from seed. In the end I got impatient and went and grabbed some little seedling plants from the nursery so that I would have some growing in the garden.
I am unsure as to why this has been the case. I tried planting them straight into the garden as well as trying to raise some in trays. The seeds were stored correctly and I tried numerous varieties. I would love to hear any tips you have if you have had success with raising plants from seed.
Plants or seeds should be planted from the start of summer (once the danger of frost has passed) and be spaced at approximately 60 cm apart.
Companion plants for capsicums include carrots and tomatoes.
The soil should be free draining and plants well watered
Plants can be grown in pots but water and fertilizer must be maintained. Don’t allow the soil to completely dry out.
Support plants as they grow, with a stake and soft ties
Capsicums prefer a full sun position to allow the fruit to develop and sweeten. They need protection from hot summer winds
Water deeply periodically, rather than light watering often.
Fertilise when the plant starts to flower.I have read here that you should avoid fertilising once fruiting is established.
Ripe fruit is best cut from the bush to avoid damage to the plant. They can be difficult to twist off. The longer the fruit is left on the plant to mature the sweeter they will be, but the less fruit your plant will develop – and don’t leave them on too long or the bugs will move in for a feast.
If you live in a moderate climate you may keep your plants in the ground across winter and they will sprout new leaves and produce at a greater rate in their second year than they did in the first. They will also commence producing much earlier than those plants added at the start of Summer.
Capsicums are versatile, making them a kitchen staple when they are in season. They can be stuffed, baked, grilled, barbecued, eaten raw, and preserved.
My two favorite ways for preparing capsicums are: In a colorful zippy salsa, or quartered and baked in the oven and then tossed through pasta or added to a salad
Capsicums are reported to be high in vitamins A,C and E and to contain anti-inflammatory properties.
I will be adding some new capsicum recipes here this season, but in the mean time here are some of the recipes that we enjoy containing capsicum:
Do you have tips for raising capsicums from seed? Please let me know in the comments below.
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