Yum yum yum it’s fresh capsicum

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This is where I have to admit to a bit of failure. 

Years ago, in my tiny London garden, I grew brilliant capsicum from the seed of a supermarket-bought one. 

Here, even in my glasshouse, zilch, and last year, having achieved total germination failure, I had to revert to buying ready-made plants from Mitre 10. 

I realise that I had probably not let the ‘host plant’ ripen enough before I used the seed. 

To be successful, the fruit should have turned red and be almost over ripe, but more important is the germinating temperature which needs to be about 20 degrees celsius. 

It was obviously far too cold when I sowed mine. 

They are very susceptible to frosts, and we do have some late ones in Queenstown. 

Therefore it is best to start all capsicum seeds off indoors. With the right heat they should germinate in 12 to 25 days, take another two to three weeks before you can transplant the seedlings and be bearing fruit in around three months from sowing the seeds. 

If their final position is to be outside then they should be hardened off before placing outside in summer. This means putting the plants outside in the daytime but bringing them inside at night to avoid cold and the odd unseasonal frost. Like cucumbers, they are another climbing plant and need the support of canes and the growing stems firmly tied in. 

Feed with a general fertiliser – until the flowers form – and a potassium-rich feed while in flower. 

Capsicum can be harvested while the fruits are still immature, i.e. green, or left on the plant to change colour. 

Green capsicum are not as sweet as the red ones so it does depend on personal preference but leaving the fruits to fully ripen can reduce the yield. 

They will keep very well if kept in the fridge for a couple of weeks and make really good pickle.

Jacqui Stubbs is a landscape designer with Remarkable Gardens Ltd. 

Email: jacqui@remarkablegardens.co.nz or visit: www.remarkablegardens.co.nz