GARDENING Go green, red, yellow for perfect capsicums
Capsicums, known in other countries as sweet bell peppers, are surprisingly easy to grow.
Their main need is for a warm, sunny environment. Once you’ve ticked off that, they’re really plant-and-forget veges — requiring little maintenance.
But what I really love about capsicums is the way they change their colour as they ripen — showing off their kaleidoscope of colour. They all start out green and then change colour to yellow, then orange, and lastly red. And the longer they’re on the plant, the sweeter they will become.
Another great thing about capsicums is that they cope well in confined spaces with little watering. This means they thrive well in a pot. Planting them in a pot also allows you to shift them around to maximise the sun, and also really show them off to your friends and curious neighbours.
At Awapuni Nurseries we have green, yellow, orange, red and purple capsicum seedlings — all available now. And if you want a head start on your growing, we also have a toro (sweet red) variety available as an established plant. The toro (sweet red) has a distinctive horn shape to it. It differs from the classic red capsicum by being thinner, sweeter and taking less time to ripen.
Grab your capsicum seedlings from our online shop and have them delivered direct to your door. We guarantee satisfaction, and if you’re not entirely happy with your plants, we will replace them. At Awapuni, we strive to reduce the plastic we use. Our seedlings come wrapped in newspaper and our orders get sent out in recycled cardboard boxes.
Capsicums like similar growing conditions to tomatoes. They like a warm, sunny,
sheltered and well-drained spot. Before planting, prepare your soil by digging in some compost, sheep pallets or general fertiliser. The richer the soil, the more generous your plant will be with its crop.
Once you’ve prepared your ideal capsicum planting spot, dig holes about 3cm deep, spacing them 40cm apart. Place the seedlings inside and lightly pack down with soil. I like to stake my seedlings at this point. ‘If you stake it, they will grow’ is my positivethinking attitude to capsicum growing.
Add mulch to help keep the weeds down. Newspaper covered with pea straw can also work really well. And watch out for slugs, who are also big fans of capsicums. Lay down some bait or an organic option is to check out our beer bait, which you can make at home.
From here, keep them watered (more for those in pots) and feed liquid fertiliser every fortnight. Try not to water the leaves, as this can encourage disease.
In two to three months you can start harvesting. Some cooks may say a watched pot never boils — I say a capsicum never ripens when you check it every day. Well of course they do — but they quickly become the most inspected plant in my vege garden while I’m waiting for them to really ripen up.
Summer is knocking on the door (well, it should be), which means it’s now the perfect time to start planting capsicums in your garden.