Pep‘per’ Talk

Basil, carrot, chillies, coriander, fennel, fenugreek, garlic, ginger, mint, pumpkin, tomato, turmeric – check! My confidence swelling with each baby step in experimentation with growing my own vegetables in our 8 ft x 1 ft box grilled window space, I decided to raise the bar a notch higher – exotic cultivars which are quite fussy about victuals and easily prone to infestation.

Thus in December I commenced a trial run with red and yellow capsicum. Salvaging seeds from store-bought organic fruit, I planted six seeds of each variety which ultimately gave me two viable saplings of red and a single one of the yellow. Though all three plants grew up at visually the same rate, each was supplemented with a different type of nutrient source – one with neem cake powder, one with vermicompost, and one with Jeevamrut (a filtered fermented concoction of cow dung, cow urine, gram flour, jaggery, handful of soil for bacterial inoculation, and water). All three plants flowered almost simultaneously in 12 weeks’ time from the date of sowing and were hand pollinated. One of the reds was first off the block and we plucked the first ripe fruit 7 weeks after pollination.

Three stages of ripening of the first born red capsicum have been captured on video and posted on Instagram at: and

Pest infestation was effectively managed during the entire 19 weeks with a fortnightly alternate spraying of Jeevamrut, and a homemade 5% solution of liquid soap, Dettol disinfectant and cooking oil. Once I complete my study of the growth pattern, and after tasting the fruit from each plant, I will be able to assess the nutrient source best suited for these cultivars.

So summing it up – from my learnings thus far – while growing your own food is thoroughly gratifying, it is enlightening too. In addition to the intricacies of gardening you also learn humility, patience and respect for the forces of nature. There is no one solution that works to fulfill the needs of nutrition and care across the wide variety of crops. Like you and me, all plants are individual in character and have typical demands depending upon their species and variety, light, weather, ambience, soil characteristics, macro and micro nutrient needs, resistance to pests and US!

Yes, us. Because it is we who have to observe – watch for signs that the plants display so candidly, whether in distress or in contentment – and join in the celebration of their life. It may sound a tall ask from afar, but once you decide to embrace Mother Nature, you will find her a teacher most willing – she holds no secrets, but only if you seek then you shall know!

– Narendra Nayak © 2022

33 thoughts on “Pep‘per’ Talk

  1. What a hardworking yet joyous journey to grow your own veggies N. Kudos 👍🏻
    Loved the title of your post and how you summarised your learning at the end. Wishing you a pleasant journey ahead with your green thumb !

    Liked by 1 person

      1. That’s the true gardener, i guess. My husband also looks at the seeds and soil and growth while I notice the bent chillies and double tomatoes and such. I like the Joker Capsicum bit.( Trust the earlier generation to come up with the perfect response!)

        Liked by 1 person

      2. It takes both kinds to make a jolly pair, Jaya. Ditto for my wife – she sees things that I will look through even if before my very eyes! 🙂
        I guess we are too stressed with unnecessary things and need to take a leaf out of the experiences of the older generations – surely we can loosen up and afford a laugh!

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    1. Sir, this homemade pesticide is a last resort against the highly resistant aphids that I have come across (neither neem oil nor other organic pesticides have managed to kill them and I have lost a couple of chilli plants to this infestation recently). Further, when I spray this, I cover the base of the plant with a sheet of polythene so that a minimal amount seeps into the soil. 🙂

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      1. Yes, aphids are bad. A professional gardner recommended to us that we tear dried orange peels into small bits and put them at the base of the plant. It won’t help if you already have aphids, but it will prevent new infestations. We had to get rid of our old plants. With new plants and this treatment until now we haven’t had a problem.

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  2. Your green fingers are only sharpening by the day. I can well imagine the gratifying feel with every single success that you’ve had so far as you continue your experimentation. Mother Nature has indeed been a great teacher. That you’ve managed to produce all these in your tiny little space is even more commendable. Wish you many such joyous journeys.

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  3. Dear Master Gardener,
    I’m so impressed with your ever-lengthening list of spices and vegetables you have successfully grown, as well as your deep insights into nature’s marvelous workings. I have never attempted to grow peppers from seeds. My attempt to grow apple trees from apple seeds resulted in–nothing. 😊
    I look forward to learning about the future fruits (or vegetables) of your labor.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so very much, Tanja, for your constant encouragement and support in my gardening endeavours. I hope to widen my knowledge base with the accumulated learnings of these efforts, enough to (hopefully) till a small piece of land in the near future. 🙂 🙏🏻

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  4. I ate red peppers in Germany, in my daughter’s place. They were so tasty. We live in coastal Karnataka, I don’t know if they will grow here. We green capsicums in the market but I am not sure if we get the yellow and red ones. All the best in your garden.

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    1. Thank you so much, Lakshmi Ma’am, for your encouraging words and for sharing your thoughts. It doesn’t take much different care for the red and yellow varieties than the regular capsicum. The heat and humidity of coastal Mumbai here is much like that in coastal Karnataka (as I have experienced on farmlands in my native Kumta). I think you will get a good result if you will plant some in your nice garden space. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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