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Capsicum

UK Garden Centre - Information about Capsicum

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The varieties of capsicum which are becoming increasingly popular are the large sweet peppers. These mild-flavoured fruits are now widely used in salads and for baking, but their small and fiery relatives, the chilli peppers, remain much less popular. Capsicum is a relative of the tomato and requires similar growing conditions – it is really a greenhouse crop but can be grown outdoors in the south if you are lucky with the weather and use barn cloches during the early stages of growth. The plants grow about 3ft (90cm) tall under glass or 2ft (60cm) outdoors, and the fruits are ripe when plump and green. Leaving them on the plant until they turn red will not improve the flavour.

Seed facts
Expected germination time: 14-21 days
Expected yield per plant: 6-10 fruits
Life expectancy of stored seed: 5 years.
Approximate time between sowing and picking: 18 weeks
Ease of cultivation: Difficult outdoors – needs protection plus regular watering and feeding.

Soil facts
· For outdoor cultivation, well-drained fertile soil in a sunny, sheltered location is necessary. Add a general-purpose fertilizer before planting.
· In the greenhouse grow in 9in (23cm) pots filled with compost or plant in growing bags – 3 per bag.

Sowing and Planting
· Raise seedlings under glass at 60-70°F (15-21°C). Sow 2 seeds in a compost-filled peat pot – remove weaker seedling. Harden off before planting outdoors.
· Cover soil with cloches 2 weeks before planting. Cover seedlings after planting.
· Plant outdoors 18in (45cm) apart either way. Water in after planting.
· For greenhouse cultivation plant out in late April (heated) or mid May (unheated).

Calendar
Sowing and planting (outdoor crop): sow indoors under glass the end of March; transplant them under cloches early June.
Sowing and planting time (Greenhouse crop): Late February to early March; transplant late April to early May.
Picking time: August to September; less usually late July to mid October.

Looking after the crop
· It is necessary to re-pot in several stages until the plants are ready to be moved to their permanent site.
· Mist plants regularly to keep down red spider mite and encourage fruit set. Some form of support is necessary – attach stems to stakes or horizontal wires. Pinching out the growing tip is not recommended.
· Water regularly but do not keep the compost in bags or pots sodden. Add Bio Tomato Food with each watering once the fruits have begun to swell.

Harvesting
· Pick the first fruits when they are green, swollen and glossy. Cut as required – a mature green pepper will turn red in about 3 weeks under glass.

Varieties
Canape: Choose this one if you plan to grow peppers outdoors, even though the fruits are rather small. Prolific and early.
New Ace: A good all-purpose pepper – early, high-yielding and more tolerant of cool conditions than most varieties.
Gypsy: Heralded as an improved Canape, this new F1 hybrid is now widely available. ‘Early maturing’ and ‘immense crops’ according to the catalogues.
Gold Star: The one to grow if you want to be different – the mature fruits are buttercup yellow. Not suitable for outdoors.

Troubles
Red Spider Mite
Aphid
Blossom End Rot


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