Baby Corn & Capsicum

Overview

Baby corn and capsicums are tasty vegetables that can augment almost any home garden in North, South or Central America. Baby corn refers simply to immature ears of "normal" corn; capsicum is a fancy word for the hot or sweet peppers perhaps already in your garden. Grow them both and use them as featured ingredients in a seemingly exotic but entirely home-grown meal.

Baby Corn Varieties

Baby corn is the name for any common corn variety harvested while the ears are still small and tender. Some species preferred for baby corn produce more ears per plant and mature at a smaller size, such as Baby Blue and Golden Midget. Baby corn may also be harvested from among sweet corn stalks, the bulk of which will be allowed to fully mature. Varieties such as Golden Queen and Guadalupe Gold are recommended by Texas A&M.

Baby Corn Harvesting Tips

Harvest ears for baby corn when they are 2 to 4 inches long and the base has a diameter of 1/3 to 2/3 inch. Ideally, you'll pick them 1 to 3 days after corn silk appears, though some varieties need to be harvested before silks emerge. Pick a few ears each day, starting when the first ears appear on the stalk. If you want your garden to produce both baby corn and full-sized ears of sweet corn, then let the ear at the top of each plant mature while picking the lower ears early. Since the lower, secondary ears sometimes don't mature fully, you'll be getting the most use out of your corn plants this way.

Capsicum Varieties

Capsicum is a tropical genus that includes both hot and sweet peppers. Flavor, shape and color vary widely, from red hot cayennes to sweet bells peppers in purple, green, red or gold. Choose a variety of C. frutescen that best suits your home climate as well as how you want to use your peppers, whether by eating them fresh, stuffing and baking them, making them into hot sauce or simply growing them ornamentally.

Capsicum Gardening Tips

Capsicums are very vulnerable to cold -- even more than tomatoes. They thrive best in full sun. They prefer moist soil that won't dry out too quickly. While peppers do well with plenty of organic matter in the soil, too much nitrogen will cause the plants to develop more foliage than fruit. Space the rows by 2 feet and the plants by 18 inches. Capsicum root systems grow shallowly, so take care not to cultivate so deeply that you damage them.

Capsicum Harvesting Tips

Harvest fruit throughout the summer as soon as they are large enough. You can pick them by hand; the brittle stems should snap cleanly with a sharp upward tug. Just before freezing weather arrives, pick all fruit still on the plants and store them somewhere cool but frost-free. They should keep well in such conditions for at least 3 months.

Baby Corn and Capsicum Curry

These two vegetables go well together in traditional Indian curries, masalas and stir-fries. Tarla Dalal, a well-known food author from India, adds a twist to the combination; she uses Schezuan sauce instead of curry, and she folds up the resulting stir fry into a roti envelope. Roti is a thin, pan-fried bread often used in Indian cuisine. Dalal does not specify which capsicum variety is best to use in her recipe. Experiment with a mixture of hots and sweets or simply use whichever is your favorite.

Keywords: bell peppers, cayenne peppers, hot sauce, sweet corn, stir-fry, curry

About this Author

Nicole LeBoeuf-Little is a freelancer from New Orleans, writing professionally since 1994. Recent short stories appear on Ideomancer.com and in Ellen Datlow's forthcoming "Blood and Other Cravings." She's published articles in "Pangaia Magazine" and eGuides at StyleCareer.com. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from University of Washington and attended the professional SF/F workshop Viable Paradise.