Thursday, December 1, 2011

Cultivation Of Capsicum

Chiles, or peppers, are a flavorful addition to your diet.

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The Capsicum family is native to South America. The five domesticated species of peppers and chiles include the sweet bell pepper, the Anaheim chile, the smoking hot habanero and the tabasco pepper. The history of harvesting wild peppers goes back at least 10,000 years. Farmers are known to have cultivated peppers as early as 3300 BC. Today, peppers and chiles are grown worldwide by farmers and home gardeners. The most popular spice in the world, peppers not only provide capsaicin to add heat to foods but also 100 percent of the daily requirements of vitamins A and C in a single fruit.

Related Searches:Difficulty:EasyInstructions Things You'll NeedHeating padPlasticSeed starting traySterile seed starting mixTweezersSandSpray bottlePlastic wrapFluorescent light fixtureHigh intensity fluorescent light bulbsLamp timer4-inch flower potsPotting soilSoup spoonShovelCompostStakesPlant tiesSoaker hose or drip watering systemMulch5-10-10 fertilizerBucketDishwashing soapSuggest EditsPepper Seed Sprouting1

Cover an old heating pad with plastic to protect it from water. Place the seed starting tray on the heating pad.


Fill the seed starting tray with sterile seed starting mix. Moisten with water. Turn the heating pad on the lowest setting.


Place one or two seeds per compartment on top of the seed starting mix. Some gardeners use tweezers to insert seeds into the soil. Barely cover with a thin layer of sand. Spritz with water to moisten. Cover the tray with the plastic lid or plastic wrap.


Hang a fluorescent light fixture 4 inches above the seed starting tray. Use high-intensity fluorescent bulbs to increase the amount of light emitted by the fixture. Attach to a timer so the light provides 14 to 16 hours of light daily.


Remove the lid or plastic wrap as soon as the seeds germinate. It may take up to two weeks, depending on the variety, for the pepper seeds to sprout.


Mist the seedlings gently to keep the mix damp, but not soggy, until the seedling have at least two sets of leaves.


Transplant the seedlings into 4-inch pots filled with a good-quality potting mix. Do not pick up the seedlings by the stems, instead use a soup spoon to carefully scoop the seedlings and roots out of the tray.


Move the light fixture up as the seedlings grow, keeping it 4 inches above the tallest plant.


Harden off the seedlings when they are 6 to 8 weeks old and night temperatures are above 55 degrees Fahrenheit. Place the flower pots outside in a sheltered area for an hour, then bring back inside. Repeat daily, adding an hour each day, for a week to 10 days. Once the seedlings are outside all day, it is time to transplant them in the garden.

Cultivating the Peppers1

Prepare the garden bed by digging up the grass and unwanted vegetation. Place on the compost pile.


Add a 3-inch layer of compost to the garden bed and dig it in, mixing well with the garden soil. Then rake the soil into 1-foot-wide mounded rows.


Dig a hole for each pepper plant in the top of the row, 1 foot apart. Remove the pepper from the flower pot and place in the hole. Backfill and tamp gently.


Insert a stake next to each plant and tie it to the stake using a soft plant tie. Add more plant ties as the plant grows.


Arrange a soaker hose or drip watering system along the row. Water when the top of the soil is dry to the touch. Fertilize with 5-10-10 fertilizer according to the manufacturer's directions.


Add a 4-inch layer of mulch to the garden bed, surrounding the mounded row to within 4 inches of the pepper plant stems. Mulch inhibits weed growth and helps the soil retain water.


Monitor your pepper plants for pests such as aphids, caterpillars, earwigs, slugs and snails. Kill aphids by spraying with soapy water. Remove other pests by hand and dropping into a bucket of soapy water. Pour the water and dead bugs onto the compost pile.


Harvest according to the seed packet directions. Different varieties of peppers and chiles are harvested when green, yellow, orange or red. For example, bell peppers are harvested at any stage between green and red. The longer a mild pepper like a bell pepper stays on the plant, the more vitamin A and C are concentrated in the fruit. Hot chiles are often allowed to ripen on the vine, then hung on a string to dry.

Tips & Warnings

Consult the local agricultural or cooperative extension office for information on gardening and growing peppers in your area.

Wear gloves and safety glasses when digging, planting, harvesting and preparing peppers and chiles. It is extremely painful if you get the capsaicin oil in your eyes. Capsaicin is what makes chiles hot.

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ReferencesWashington State University, Clark County Extension; Planning for a Peck of Peppers; January/February 2002University of Minnesota Extension Service; Peppers; Beth R. Jarvis; March 1999University of California, Davis, Good Life Garden:; Guide - New to Chillies?; Julian LivseyNew Mexico State University Cooperative Extension Service; Growing Chiles in New Mexico; Paul W. Bosland, et al.; October 2004Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations: Success Story on Greenhouse TechnologyPhoto Credit Jupiterimages/Comstock/Getty ImagesRead Next:

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