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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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! 🙂
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.
Capsicums/Bell Peppers Growing Tips –
- Best individually potted, minimum pot size diameter and depth about 20 inches
- Well drained soil aided with perlite or sand
- Shady sunny spot or morning sun in the tropics
- 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.
- Mulch top soil with coco peat to retain moisture and ice soil to keep roots cool when temperature rises above 31C