Get out into the garden this weekend to revitalise your veggie patch with spicy chillies and tangy native limes.
In the garden: Plant some chillies, finger lime and capsicum
A dependable plant to master in our climate, chillies are a tasty treat in the garden. However, don’t make the same mistake as me by planting one too hot to eat!
How to grow: There are thousands of varieties to choose from, in all shapes, colours, sizes and heats. Chillies take longer to settle and flower than capsicum and tomato, though grow much the same. The small plant can be grown in any space in the ground or a pot, with rich soil, sunny position and regular feeding.
When to harvest: The little white flowers will bloom from December onward, with fruit to follow. Chillies can be picked and eaten at any stage from green to red. The plant will flower well into the cooler months and, if left, can be pruned next spring to re-shoot for more chillies, seasons over.
A native citrus, this non-traditional lime is in fashion and is often a feature ingredient in gin and tonics. The small shrub originates from the southern border of Queensland, though cultivars are now available for SA’s regions, including Durhams Emerald, Judy’s Ever-bearing and Pink Ice.
How to grow: With a tropical origin, the finger lime tree will thrive in a full sun, protected position with plenty of water in the soil and will grow up to five metres tall. As a low fuss alternative to the traditional citrus, prune only as necessary and feed with high nitrogen fertiliser two times a year.
When to harvest: The small tree will bear fruit in the first three years. The unusual clear pearls of juice inside pop with a tangy lime flavour from the elongated pods and can be used in various sweet and savoury dishes.
As with its purple cousin, capsicums are available in a raft of varieties, the most popular being the Giant Bell and Californian Wonder. They love our warm sunny weather in SA and there’s nothing better than watching the fruit ripen in their varying stages of development, whether in a pot or in the ground.
How to grow: Can be grown from seedlings planted 50 centimetres apart in a warm, sheltered position, preferably north east-facing for perennial fruit. Keep well-watered, fertilise early on and stake bigger varieties for a strong plant.
When to harvest: The bright green glossy fruit is able to be picked and eaten at any stage, or leave on the plant to turn a sweeter, milder red from 10 weeks.
These stories first appeared in the Spring 2018 issue of SALIFE Gardens & Outdoor Living.