There are basically two types of chilies or peppers as it is also known. Peppers with bite and those without bite. According to Wikipedia Capsicum belongs to the Solanaceae, same as brinjals (aubergines) and tomatoes. Peppers originated in the Americas but can be found worldwide nowadays and have been hybridized to suit the needs and palates of those that are cultivating the peppers and chilies. Consequently capsicum has many names depending on its pungency and its use. In English capsicum of the sweet variety is known as peppers and the capsicum of the hot variety is known as chilies. Most capsicum species are perennial though when they are cultivated in areas where the climate necessitates it, these plants are also grown as annuals. Capsicum does not take up too much space in a garden and is easy to grow. Some capsicum species, especially the hot types form attractive little shrubs while the sweeter capsicum stays in a plant shape. Capsicum is not prone to disease and therefore makes the ideal companion plant.
Some capsicum species will readily cross with other capsicum species while others are more resistant to hybridization. Growing chilies and peppers are quite rewarding as well as interesting because one can steer a single capsicum plant selection into a direction where one has achieved the ideal chilies or pepper to one’s preference. To this end one can have the hot chili peppers, a mild chili pepper and even sweet bell peppers.
Warm weather and a sunny wind free corner in the garden is the ideal spot in which to grow Capsicum. The averages sized family requires only two plants to provide in their needs. It is best to sow the pepper and chili seeds from late winter through early summer in situ or if you prefer seed trays. Sowing should be done approximately 1 cm (that is 0.4 inches) deep and between 40 and 50 cm (that is 15 to 20 inches) apart from each other. Chilies and peppers are not fussy regarding the type of soil they are planted in, but I found that it is best to apply good compost and fertilizer (if you make use of commercial fertilizers, they are also fine to use). A spade-full of organic compost or even kraal manure and a handful of 3:1:5 fertilizer per plant should be sufficient. Work the compost into the soil and keep the soil moist. The seeds should sprout after 6 to 8 days after sowing.
When your seedlings are approximately 3 weeks old then you should transplant them approximately 50 cm (20 inches) apart. When your capsicum plants starts to flower do water it regularly else the flowers will fall off and consequently you will not have any fruits. The branches of the sweet bell peppers are usually very brittle and should be handled with care. Practice caution when weeding so as not to damage the plant. Cultivate the surface of the soil often to get rid of weeds, but not so deeply that the capsicum plant roots are harmed.
On average capsicum will start bearing fruits from between 6 to 8 weeks before you can start harvesting. With sweet bell peppers you will even find that you may have to harvest 3 to 5 fruits per month and in the case of the Hot Chili Peppers you will find that you may have to harvest continually. And the more you harvest, the more fruits the capsicum plant will bring forth.
With sweet bell peppers you may harvest the fruits when they are about half size. Whereas with Hot Chili Peppers it is better to leave the fruits on the capsicum plant until they have fully ripened to make use of the full flavor and taste. You may harvest them before then (whilst they are still green) it does not matter, it all depends on how you prefer to eat them.
It is also beneficial to the capsicum plant, in the case of Hot Chili Peppers, to prune the little shrub from time to time, not only to improve the shape of the capsicum plant, but also to ensure that the capsicum fruits get more sunlight and air.
In the case of sweet bell peppers, it is best to harvest regularly so as to ensure that the mother capsicum plant remains strong and is able to bear fruits for longer in any one season. Chilies or Peppers will bear fruits throughout the summer as long as the fruits are picked regularly as soon as they're large enough.
Both the sweet bell peppers and the Hot Chili Peppers make excellent pot plants as well. When potted they require the same type of care as tomato plants for instance. When planting in pots, they should have porous, well-drained soil. Liquid fertilizer may be applied occasionally to prevent the leaves from yellowing. Protect your plants against frost and water regularly but not to the point where the roots are always in the water and the capsicum plant develops root rot. Remember they want full sun.