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Capsicum growing is easy and a valuable part of a tropical food garden. Native to the Americas capsicum is now cultivated worldwide.
Capsicum is in the nightshade family Solanaceae. However, capsicum comes several varieties, such as jalapeño, peperoncini, and peperoncito. Here we are concerned with the humble capsicum, which is large and mild and is probably sold at your local supermarket.
Capsicum plants have various names depending on place and type. They are also known as bell peppers or peppers.
Capsicum Growing from Seed
Time needed: 3 minutes
How to grow capsicum.
- Sow Seeds
Soak seeds overnight and the next day sow them half a centimetre deep and 25cm (10in) apart. Also, place 2-3 seeds in each hole.
- Sun and Water
Plant in a location that has full sun. They will need at least 2.5cm (1inch) of water per week. It is better to give them a thorough soaking twice or even three times a week (depending on the weather).
- Thin Seedlings and Stake
Thin out your seedlings, so your plants are now about 50cm (20in) apart. As they grow, you may want to use tomato stakes and ties to keep the plants upright (so they don’t blow over in the wind).
Apply a balanced fertiliser. Over fertilising will result in an overgrown healthy looking vine that fails to produce fruit.
At 10-12 weeks, the fruit ripens and changes colour. However, you can harvest the capsicum fruit whenever you want, as you do not have to wait until the fruit is full size.
Capsicum Growing in Pots
Capsicum prefer to be planted in the ground or container beds. However, they can be grown in larger pots.
If you do grow them in a pot, they should be in a potting mix, and make sure the pot has holes for drainage.
Location and Soil
Capsicum can be grown in a wide range of soils. Sandy loams or alluvial soils are fine. The main thing is that the soil is deep and free draining. It is good to have a high content of organic matter in the soil, so don’t be afraid to work in heaps of compost before planting.
Use a fertiliser rich in nitrogen, phosphate and potassium. Be sure to apply the fertiliser to the base of the plant so you do not burn the leaves.
Water and Capsicum Growing
Capsicum needs 2.5cm (1in) of water each week. Water twice a week, so a deep watering occurs. Hence you are sure to get to the roots of the plant.
Capsicum Growing Problems
Insect pests and diseases are more of a problem during the wet season. This is due to the hot humid conditions.
Fruit flies, blossom end rot and root-knot nematodes can be a problem. Leaf eating beetles and aphids are also pests in the tropics. However, you can pick these from your vine at home, or if the challenge is bigger you can use an insecticide.
However, regular application of ‘white oil’ can help address these pests. Indeed white oil is an effective organic pesticide that you can make at home.
Following this capsicum growing guide should help you grow a healthy crop!
Capsicum Growing Season
The best time to grow capsicum in the tropics is during the ‘dry season’. We suggest growing from May to October to give you the best chance of success.
Eating capsicum can help keep your blood sugar stable. Indeed the fibre in this plant can lower blood sugar by slowing the rate of digestion and absorption of sugar in the body. Consequently, this slower absorption keeps blood sugar levels steady and prevents spikes and crashes.
Capsicum is very high in fibre that is low in calories. This is good for digestion and bowel function.
Fibre may also help lower your LDL, or “bad” cholesterol and reduce your blood pressure and decrease your chance of cardiovascular disease.
The high levels of Vitamin C also make this vegetable a valuable food in boosting your immunity.
Antioxidants in capsicum, help to combat free radicals in your body. These free-radicals can damage cells and can lead to disease, so eating capsicum can help you stay well.
Capsicum is also a great source of prebiotic fibre that will have a positive effect on your gut health.
All of the capsicum growing tips above are worth the effort when it results in tasty produce that is good for your health.
Other Tropical Vegetables
- Malabar Spinach
- Pak Choi
- Perpetual Spinach
- Pumpkin Growing
- Snake Beans Growing
- Sweet Potato