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.
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
Ease of cultivation: Difficult outdoors –
needs protection plus regular watering and feeding.
· For outdoor cultivation, well-drained
fertile soil in a sunny, sheltered location is
necessary. Add a general-purpose fertilizer before
· 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).
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.
· 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
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.
Red Spider Mite
Blossom End Rot