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The first step toward cultivating fruit and vegetables is the collection of seeds. When collecting the seeds from a capsicum fruit, there are two main methods of preparation for the following growing season. Initially, gardeners collect the seeds by cutting the bottoms from ripe fruit and stripping them from the stalks, which are positioned centrally. The first method of preparation is most suitable when dealing with small quantities of capsicum seeds and is also the simplest; it is known as the dry method.
Using the dry method, gardeners strip the seeds from the inner stalk and keep those with healthy appearances – generally cream colored with a firm feel. Older or damaged seeds begin to discolor, often turning black, and appear flat and withered. These damaged seeds can be discarded. The healthy capsicum seeds are then stored in a cool, dry environment for up to a year in preparation for planting.
The second, more complex method is known as the wet method and is best suited to those times when larger quantities of seeds are being collected. When carrying out this method, gardeners collect all seeds from the fruits and place them in containers with large quantities of water. This seed and water mixture is then carefully blended, a process that separates the healthy capsicum seeds from the damaged ones along with residual capsicum flesh. Healthy seeds float to the top of the water during the blending process. The seeds can then be stored for usage in the same manner as with the dry method.
To begin the process of growing a plant from seed, a light soil in a shallow tray provides the best growing media. It is important that the tray has drainage holes in the bottom and an additional, nondraining tray underneath to facilitate watering. The best way to water capsicum seeds is from the bottom as this prevents the soil from becoming too heavy and restricting the germination of the seed. Overwatering the seeds can damage them, so gardeners remove the water tray after a short period of time and dispose of excess water before replacing.
Placing plastic film over the top of the seed tray assists in maintaining a moist environment for the capsicum seeds without saturating them and accelerates the germination process. When the first shoots appear, gardeners remove the film and add fertilizer to provide nutrients for flower production, growth, and cell division. Most fruit growers recommend a 15-15-15-grade fertilizer for the best balance of nutrients. When planting young capsicum plants outside, it is important to maintain a distance of at least 50 feet (15 meters) between rows of different species.