A few days ago, Mona Chopra from Ludhiana, Punjab posted her home-grown bell peppers (capsicum) on Facebook. To her surprise, inquiries poured in asking how she achieved the task and the process to follow.
After attending hundreds of queries, Mona figured out that there seemed to be no end to the doubts. And that there was a great deal of interest and curiosity about growing these tasty fruits at home. Which is not a surprise. Bell peppers are rich in Vitamin A and Vitamin C, and help boost immunity. They are also high in fibres, iron and folate, with a low on calorific value.
So to help readers who may want to do the same, The Better India reached out to the 49-year-old entrepreneur to understand the steps in detail. It has been a couple of months since Mona started growing them and at present, her plants are at their peak.
Mona has always been into gardening since her childhood and grows almost all her vegetables at home.
“My father was a graduate in agriculture and worked at Ludhiana university. We always grew vegetables in our backyard and continue doing it,” Mona says.
No need to buy Bell Pepper seeds
“It is quite simple to grow bell peppers. Many people ask me to send them seeds, but they already come with the vegetables we buy in the market,” says Mona.
Mona explains that all one needs to do is keep half a piece aside for growing a plant.
“There are two ways of doing it. The first method needs the bell pepper to be cut in half. The seeds are visible inside. All one needs to do is shake some of them off the bell pepper,” Mona explains.
“Now, fill the bell pepper with soil and put it in a pot. The vegetable should get covered by the soil and a half-inch layer of soil covering it,” the terrace gardener explains.
A pot which is 8-10 inches deep is enough to grow a plant healthily. A large sized flower pot can also host multiple plants.
Mona says one should water it just enough to maintain moisture. The seeds should start to germinate in the next couple of weeks.
Initially, the pot could stay indoors with some sunlight falling on it. Once the seeds germinate, the pot should be moved to a balcony or terrace for better sunlight.
“The plant requires humid conditions and also a good amount of moisture in the soil. The climatic conditions need to get maintained by positioning the pot accordingly with no extreme sunlight reaching it and watering adequate amounts to retain moisture in the soil,” she adds.
Mona says once the plant starts to grow it will go through a natural process of flowering and then fruiting to popping small bell peppers.
“It takes about 1.5-2 months to get bell peppers,” she says.
However, there could be an occasion when the plant gets infested with pests or insects.
Offering a toxin-free solution, Mona says, “A simple answer to the problem is taking a spoonful of soap powder, a spoon of Neem oil and mix them with a litre of water.”
The solution can be sprayed on the bell peppers once a week or fortnightly depending on the need.
Mona recommends adding vermin compost or cow dung or organic waste to add nutrition value to the soil.
“I usually use onion and banana peels, water used to wash rice and other organic waste from the kitchen to put it in the plants. Occasionally, use milk diluted with water. The supplements ensure the plants get all nutrients from the soil,” Mona says.
For impatient folks
If you do not wish to wait for a couple of weeks for seeds to germinate, Mona has a simple method she has started using for growing tomatoes but works for bell peppers as well.
“You need a container and two tissue papers for this method. Place a tissue paper in the container and spray it with some water. Place the seeds of any plant desired to be grown on them,” Mona says.
The gardner explains that the second tissue should be used to cover the seeds and again sprinkled with water.
“Keep the container covered with good ventilation maintained for the seeds. Within a week, you’ll see the seeds germinating on the tissue,” Mona says.
“The bell peppers on the tissue paper can get replanted without disturbing the paper. It will eventually decompose in the soil,” Mona adds.
Mona says the plant bears about four to five bell peppers at a time and are enough for a meal.
Mona grows bitter gourd, cauliflower, tomatoes, okra, spinach, fenugreek, coriander and other vegetables. “I don’t grow onion and potatoes. But the vegetable growing changes with the season,” she adds.
Mona says she has spent the entire Covid-19 lockdown posting her gardening pictures on social media followed by massive inquiries giving gardening tips.
“Knowledge, if it benefits others, should be shared. What will I do to keep it alone to myself?” Mona says.
Mona is happy to help with gardening queries and can be reached on +91 9814706390.
(Edited by Vinayak Hegde)