GROW YOUR OWN CAPSICUM and CHILLI

Capsicums for pickling, chillies for vinegar, cayenne and chilli pepper; these are the uses and products of the pods and seeds of Capsicum annuum (grows about 1 ft. high) and Capsicum baccatum (2½ ft.). Both produce white flowers in summer, followed by the pods or fruits.

Varieties include Mammoth Red, Ruby King, Golden Queen, Long Red (all of which can be obtained in a mixed packet) and Small Red chilli.

Rich soil is required, and the warmth of a greenhouse, or a sunny, sheltered position outdoors.

Ready for Use. Pods ready for gathering in September outdoors; earlier grown under glass.

Soil Preparation.

Dig the ground not less than 1 ft. deep and enrich it to that depth with leaf-mould, hop manure, or old hotbed material. For greenhouse plants the potting mixture should also be rich – two parts good loamy soil, one part old manure and a little silver sand or sharp road grit.

When and How to Sow.

During February or March in a heated greenhouse; in a hotbed frame or a frame facing south in late March. Sow three or four seeds wide apart in each 3-in. pot and transfer singly to 4-in. pots when the seedlings are about 1 ½ in. high. Keep well watered and close to the glass.

Those to be grown on in the greenhouse will need shifting into 6-in. pots in due course, with a stake for each plant.

Those to be planted outdoors should be gradually hardened off (exposed by degrees to open-air conditions) when in the 4-in. pots.

Planting Out.

Not before the beginning of June, those to be fruited in the open should be planted in the sunniest and warmest position available, as at the foot of a south-facing fence or wall, each to be staked. Space them 1 ft. apart.

Watering, Feeding. Soil backed by a south wall or fence dries out more speedily than open ground; frequent waterings will therefore be necessary. Enough water must be given at a time to soak down several inches. Cover the soil surface around the plants with hop manure (put down wet); or feed them occasionally with general purpose artificial fertilizer mixture. Picking the Pods.

Capsicums for pickling should be gathered before they begin to colour; chillies for vinegar when fully coloured. Ripened pods can be dried and then ground to make pepper.

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