Capsicums are perennial plants with an edible fleshy seed pod, better known by their common household name: peppers. Because of their popularity in the kitchen, peppers have also become quite popular in the home garden. They are fairly easy to grow with good planning and preparation, and come in a wide variety to offer a satisfying harvest.
Select a location for your capsicums that gets at least eight hours of direct sun each day, and where the soil has good drainage. Measure your garden space to decide how many plants you can grow. Capsicums need to be spaced 18 to 24 inches apart, and do best in rows spaced 24 to 36 inches.
Decide what variety of capsicums you wish to grow. Peppers come in many sizes, colors and flavors. You might prefer mild and sweet bell peppers, hot and spicy cayenne, or a combination of mild and spicy varieties. See resources for a list of recommended varieties.
Start seeds indoors about eight to 10 weeks before the last average frost date for your area. Fill 2- to 3-inch pots or flats with a lightweight soil-less growing medium. Sow three to four seeds per pot in quarter-inch holes. Cover lightly with medium.
Keep the medium warm and moist. Place the seedlings under a light source, such as a sunny window or fluorescent lights. When seedlings are 3 inches tall, thin to one plant per pot.
Use store-bought seedlings, if you prefer. Choose stocky plants with healthy-looking leaves and strong stems.
Prepare your plot by breaking up the soil and work in compost with a hoe or rake. Harden off young plants to adapt them to their new location. Set them outside every day for a week, lengthening the time each day to help them gradually acclimate to their new location.
Transplant young pepper plants when they have five leaves, and only once the ground has warmed up and all chances of a late frost have passed. Mulch well to discourage weeds and retain water and heat in the soil.
Water plants lightly and frequently. Fertilize every six weeks with an all-purpose fertilizer, such as 5-10-10. Inspect plants regularly for common diseases and pests.
Harvest fruits when they are large enough to eat. Allowing fruits to ripen on the vine will produce a sweeter flavor. Cut fruits from the plant just above where they connect to the stem using a sharp knife. Preserve seeds, if desired, to plant during the next growing season.