The bell pepper , whose scientific name is Capsicum annuum var. annuum , is a herbaceous plant widely cultivated in the temperate and warm regions of the world, and it is not for less: its fruits have a very characteristic flavor, pleasant for many people. In addition, a single plant can produce enough for a family to prepare delicious dishes during the season.
Its cultivation and maintenance are suitable for beginners , as it grows very quickly, whether it is in a pot or planted in the garden.
- 1 Characteristics of bell pepper
- 2 How is it grown?
- 2.1 Sowing
- 2.2 Transplantation
- 3 Care and maintenance of the bell pepper
- 4 Pests and diseases
- 4.1 Pests
- 4.2 Diseases
- 5 Uses of bell pepper
- 6 Properties of bell pepper
Bell pepper characteristics
This is a perennial herbaceous plant in its place of origin but cultivated as an annual in the temperate regions that inhabit Mesoamerica, where it began to be cultivated for human consumption more than 6,000 thousand years ago. It is known by the common names of pepper, paprika, chili, sweet pepper, bell pepper, or bell pepper.
It grows to a height of about 75 centimeters , and has a bushy appearance. Two stems emerge from each branch, which in turn divide into two more stems, that is, it is a plant that has dichotomous branching. The leaves are entire, simple, oval-oblong in shape, with a visible central nerve, green in color, and measure about 4cm. The flowers are small, solitary, and appear in the axils of the branches, and are white.
The fruit, without a doubt the most characteristic of this plant, is a berry that adopts very varied shapes: it can be round, heart-shaped, cylindrical or square, and be white to red in color, the most common being yellow, green and the red . Their weight ranges from a few grams to half a kilo.
Currently there are many cultivars, including Jalapeño, Cayenne (or Cayenne), Bird’s Eye, Thai or Marbles. In Spain the most cultivated are: Padrón, Verde or Cristal as sweet pepper; Morrón, Ele or Select for preserves; Ñora or chillies for paprika; o Yellow from Hungary for pickles.
How is it grown?
If you want to have several bell pepper seedlings in your garden or on your patio, keep the following in mind:
In order to have an excellent harvest you must sow the seeds in spring, directly in seed trays, as follows:
- Fill the tray with universal growing substrate (you can also use one prepared for Seedbeds).
- Place a maximum of two seeds in each alveolus, a little apart from each other in case they both germinate.
- Cover them a little with substrate, enough so that they cannot fly away in case the wind blows.
- Put the tray inside another -that does not have holes- and fill the latter with about 2 centimeters of water, so that the seedbed is watered.
- Now, place the seedbed in an area where it gets a lot of natural light, if possible directly.
- Keep the substrate moist, but not waterlogged.
In 10 days the first ones will begin to germinate.
After more or less 1 month or a month and a half, when the seedlings have a manageable size (minimum 5cm in height), it will be time to transfer them to individual pots of about 20cm in diameter , using a universal culture substrate, putting them at full temperature. sun or in a very bright area.
After two more months, you can plant them in the garden in rows, leaving 50cm between plants, or move them to larger pots.
Bell pepper care and maintenance
Once the seedlings have passed the critical period -in their case it is the first three months of life approximately-, you can start caring for them as follows:
- Location : We continue to keep them in areas where a lot of light enters.
- Irrigation : very frequent. It is necessary to avoid letting the substrate dry out, but also waterlogging. It is not recommended to put a plate under them, unless you remove the excess water 15 minutes after watering.
- Fertilizer : throughout the season you have to fertilize them with organic fertilizers, whether they are manure, earthworm humus, guano, or whatever you prefer.
- Pruning – You should remove the end of each stem once the plant is established, this will put out lower branches and produce more fruit.
- Harvest : the fruits are harvested green or when they turn colour, around 200 days after sowing (it can be earlier if the weather is mild and warm). You have to cut them with about 3cm stem.
Plagues and diseases
It is a plant that can be attacked by different insects and parasites, and also by microscopic microorganisms capable of seriously harming it.
- Aphids : they measure about 0.5cm in length, and they perch on the flowers and sometimes also on their stems, destroying them. They are combated with Neem Oil.
- Red spider : they are tiny red mites, about 0.5cm long, capable of forming webs. It feeds on plant cells, specifically on the underside of the leaves, where lighter green spots begin to appear that contrast with the healthy green of the leaf. It can be treated with both Neem Oil and Potassium Soap.
- Green caterpillars : they feed on leaves and stems. They are combated with Bacillus thuringiensis (it is a bacterium that you will find for sale in nurseries), or chop one or two cloves of garlic and put them around the plant.
- Sadness of the pepper : it is a disease transmitted by a fungus that attacks at the level of the neck, where it produces a dark spot that extends throughout the stem. Treatment consists of removing the affected plant.
- Fusarium : it is a fungal disease (transmitted by fungi of the Fusarium genus), which attacks the leaves, where more or less rounded yellow spots will appear. It can be combated with natural fungicides (copper or sulfur) in spring, but in summer it is better to use systemic fungicides following the instructions specified on the packaging.
Bell pepper uses
This is a plant that is used as a vegetable for its fruits, which can be consumed both fresh and fried or cooked. But it must be said that these peppers are practically all water, and they have vitamins, calcium, sodium, proteins,… I better leave you their chemical composition :
Carbohydrates 3.7% (fiber 1.2%)
Sodium 0.5 mg/100 g
Calcium 12 mg/100 g
Iron 0.5 mg/100 g
Potassium 186 mg/100 g
Phosphorus 26 mg/100 g
Ascorbic acid (Vit. C) 131 mg/100 g
Retinol (Vit. A) 94 mg/100 g
Thiamin (Vit. B1) 0.05 mg/100 g
Riboflavin (Vit . B2) 0.04 mg/100 g
Folic acid (Vit. B3) 11 micrograms/100 g
Bell pepper properties
As if that were not enough, they have very interesting medicinal properties: being rich in vitamin C , your immune system will be able to prevent you from diseases much better , it helps to heal wounds , it is a diuretic , it regulates cholesterol and they are ideal for both pregnant women and children . for its folic acid content.