Orange Capsicum

Orange capsicum’s journey began on September 27 2015 with seeds from fresh supermarket capsicums. This is the second time I grew capsicums after culling my first crop due to fruit flies larvae infestation in the pot.

Growing bell peppers in home made compost

My first pot of capsicums culled because of fruit flies infestation 🙁

As a reluctant gardener for commercial fertilizers or pesticide, I chose to start over rather than apply harmful strong chemicals to rid my edibles of the pests. The larvae problems were serious. They affected the fruits as well as the general health of the whole plant. My pot became the children’s favorite horror house to gross their friends out ! 🙂 It was full of creepy soft white worms and the capsicums rot before they ripened.

After the infested capsicum plants were removed, I killed the larvae in the soil with hot water and then sun baked it for months in our tropical heat. When the soil seem “recovered” I began composting in it again. This time I learned my lesson!

My compost was topped  with soil and then thick layers of leaves or tarp to ward off rotting greens smell which attracted the fruit flies in the first place.

On September 20 2015, seeds were harvested from FairPrice supermarket’s orange capsicum.

Germinated on September 27 2015 (in wet tissues, 7 days)

Orange capsicum from NTUC Fairprice supermarket in Singapore

As capsicum seeds are large and easier to handle, I germinated them in wet paper towels rather than soil. The trick is to keep the seeds moist without turning mouldy.

Germinating capsicum seeds

Orange Capsicum – Sowed on wet kitchen tissues (7 days)

The seeds are covered in damp paper and then ziplock in plastic bag. This would prevent evaporation so that the seeds could be kept moist longer. Paper towels were checked daily and dampened as needed to keep seeds moist. Germination took placed in 7 days.

Grow capsicum

Capsicum seeds germinated in damp paper and ziplock in bags

Due to limited sunny space to grow my edibles at home, PET bottles became my favorite “pots” to transplant seedlings to. They save soil and space as well as teaching kids how to recycle plastic bottles for better use in our daily life!  🙂 Drainage holes were cut on the side of the PET bottles instead of at the bottom.

Grow capsicum

October 2015 – Capsicum seedlings

Capsicum seedlings looked deceptively small and new gardener may be tempted to squeeze more plants per pot to save space and soil, as I did in my first pot. 🙂  Ideally, they should be individually potted to grow better. However due to lack of spare big pot, I transplanted 2 orange capsicums seedlings to this 60 Liters compost pot. The rest of the seedlings were moved to a friend’s farm.

Grow bell peppers

2 months old seedlings transplanted to outdoor compost pot

In spite of common literature on the need to feed capsicum plants well with readily available commercial fertilizers, I am reluctant to use them. I counted on my home made compost and kelp fertilizer to grow these edibles slowly.

Plants in the natural environment set their own time table, I believed edibles taste sweeter when we don’t rush them! 🙂

Grow bell peppers

Almost 4 months capsicums in 60L pot

Grow bell peppers

January 2016 – Finally flowered!

When the weather get too warm (above 31 degrees Celsius), capsicum’s flowers had a tendency to drop, and I learned to ice and mulched my top soil with cocopeat to keep their roots cool. Plants that thrived in Genting Highlands generally need this treatment to do well here.

Grow bell peppers

Fairprice ice recycled here when weather is warm

January 4 2016 - First Capsicum flower

January 4 2016 – First Capsicum flower

Grow bell peppers

March 1 2016 – 6 long months to fruit!

Organic Capsicum

March 12 2016 – My 3 S’s capsicum – Slower, Sweeter, Smaller – grown without commercial fertilizers and pesticide!

Bell Peppers or Capsicum from seeds

Jan 03 2017 – Small harvest every month! This plant just keep on fruiting in our natural compost.

Home grown bell peppers

Home grown capsicums are a snack in this household, crunchy and sweet!

Capsicums/Bell Peppers Growing Tips –

  1. Best individually potted, minimum pot size diameter and depth about 20 inches
  2. Well drained soil aided with perlite or sand
  3. Shady sunny spot or morning sun in the tropics
  4. Heavy feeder, recommended fortnightly feeding of manure ( goat, chicken, rabbit), compost, kelp fertiliser and/or fish emulsion. I also buried banana skins and ground coffee, soya bean pulp on the side of the pot when flowers dropped.
  5. Mulch top soil with coco peat to retain moisture and ice soil to keep roots cool when temperature rises above 31C

Apartments’ Rice Paddies

In land scarce Singapore, it is not impossible to grow rice for fun and where space allowed, for our own consumption. I thought this is a great gardening project to do with children as well. Hopefully with the experience, our urban kids will  know how difficult it is to harvest just one cup of rice and learned to cherish every morsel of grain on their plate. 🙂

Apartment rice paddy

February 24 2015 – Ms. Serena Ganesh’s home grown grains

Serena Ganesh's rice grains before they turned brown

Serena Ganesh’s rice grains before they turned brown

This is a labor of love for Serena Ganesh’s family! She harvested her grains by hand peeling each husk after other attempts failed. Members from our gardening group (SG Farming in Apartments), such as Edmund Gan, recommended to wait till the stalks are fully golden brown before grinding the husks on a sieve to separate the grains.

Grow rice in containers

Feb 25 2016 – Serena Ganesh hand split and peeled husks from rice

Tips for Germinating Grains:

  1. Soak the seeds 24 – 36 hours, drained away water and cover seeds with towels to keep them moist or directly sowed on very moist media
  2. Brown rice is better than white as the latter had been processed (Gardening Know how blog
  3. Germination took placed between 3 – 5 days in a sunny area
Grow rice in pots

February 27 2016 – Budi Widodo had already soaked these grains for 24hours before sowing on really moist towels.

Grow rice in container

Budi Widodo used these grains for his apartment’s rice paddy project

Budi Widodo grew rice along his apartment’s corridor, where he has about 6 hours of indirect sunlight. After his seeds germinated on wet towels, he would plant them here before transplanting to a deeper trough until harvest day.

Grow rice in pots

Budi Widodo cut holes on the side of his “pot” to drain water when it rained

Grow rice in pot

Budi Widodo’s rice paddy trough

For soil sowing, William Toh recommended to thoroughly mix potting soil with water until its muddy and then add more water till it covered the soil, before planting grains in the mud pool.

February 3 2016 - William Toh's rice paddy in cookie jar

February 3 2016 – William Toh’s rice paddy in cookie jar

Grow rice in pots

William Toh’s rice paddy in cookie jar “incubator”

William Toh - This is how wet the soil needs to be

William Toh – This is how wet the soil needs to be

Grow rice in pot

Feb 15 2016 – William Toh’s rice are growing well

 

The key for a good rice harvest 🙂 is to keep the soil constantly moist and to grow them in warm sunny places.

The International Rice Research Institute also recommended to prepare the soil well with 7:2:1 ratio of potting soil, manure/compost and rice husks, mixed thoroughly with water for the young seedlings to thrive.

I liked to share pictures from Serena Ganesh’s mature rice paddy 🙂 See how big this crop grew ?!  For interested gardeners, do consider a bigger pot than a cookie jar for a more bountiful harvest! 🙂

Grow rice in pot

Serena Ganesh’s potted rice paddy

Grow rice in pot

Serena Ganesh’s potted rice from seeds

It would take 4 – 5 months from seeds to harvest day.

Last but not least, please remember to check and change the stagnant water in our rice paddy “fields” for mosquitoes breeding, while enjoying our gardening projects! 🙂