Grow Capsicum In Home – Just a few more months and winter will set in bringing along its colorful seasonal vegetables. Of which, one of the most widely used vegetables across various countries is the capsicum. Botanically named as Capsicum annum, it is also known as Bell Pepper, Sweet Pepper, Paprika or Cayenne Pepper. In India, it is called the ‘ Shimla Mirch’. Be it the mouth-watering chilly paneer or the pizza, it adds its unique taste to the preparation. Not just cooking, it is also used widely for its medicinal qualities. Growing this fruit vegetable is easy, here is how it can be done.
There are different varieties of this vegetable – green, yellow, red, white and even orange and purple though these are rare in India. The red colored ones are called Bombay while the yellow and the green are called the Orobelle and Indra respectively.
Climate & temperature
The ‘Shimla Mirch’ basically prefers a moderately cool temperature between 21 to 25 degrees. Extreme hot or cold weather does not augur well for this vegetable. September or February would be a good time to plant the seeds.
Sowing & care
The capsicum plant bears fruit annually and a single plant can grow 4-6 units at a time. The soil should be loamy and well-drained in nature, neither too wet nor too dry. It can be a mixture of three equal parts of cocopeat, vermicompost, and sand. The seeds should be sprinkled half a cm deep in the soil & covered with the same. Make sure to keep the surface damp yet not too wet. The top of the pots can be covered with polyethylene or wet cloth & should be exposed to around 4 hours of bright sunlight daily for germination through direct sunlight can be harmful. In case the temperature shoots up, sprinkle water using a rose can. The soil should be well-fertilized with manure, garden compost, cooked tea leaves, and straw.
Growth & harvest
In about two weeks, the seeds are expected to germinate. Since the seedlings produce heavy leafy foliage as they grow, it is best to plant not more than one or two seedling in each pot at a gap of 15-20 cm. When the seedlings are around 10-15 cm long, they can be treated with a mild dose of fertilizer. Meanwhile, a mixture of detergent and water can be used to keep off bugs like aphids or whiteflies. Once the seedlings turn sturdy, they can be covered with a thin layer of neem oil which acts as an organic pesticide. Ensure that the temperature is maintained else the white flowers will wither off not bearing the fruit. The well-treated plants will bear fruit in around two months. Wait until they turn to their full color and size before plucking them. Even if plucked when a little unripe, they will ripen if kept at a place which receives sunlight. The luscious sweet pepper is ready to spice up your kitchen and your taste buds as well!