GAR­DEN­ING Go green, red, yel­low for per­fect capsicums

Napier Courier - - News - BY HENRI HAM Awa­puni Nurs­eries www.awa­

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.

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