‘My lemon skin is turning brown on the plant’| Photos by the writer
‘My lemon skin is turning brown on the plant’| Photos by the writer

Q. I recently came across your article ‘Some like it hot’ and wanted to know if various coloured capsicums (Shimla mirch) grown from the same seed? If so, why are the red and yellow ones not readily available in the market?

A. All peppers, not only capsicum, are different from each other. They are grown the same way but each variety has certain unique set of requirements which make its farming different. Green capsicums are not only used in salads, Chinese cuisine and fast food but in different local curries as well. Its cultivation has significantly increased due to its demand. We already carried an article on growing green bell peppers at home back in April 2023. Bell peppers are also grown in red, yellow, orange and purple colours here, but since the green one is more commercially viable, it gets growers choice preference. Colours other than green are generally consumed for Italian cuisine, salads and fast food and you will seldom find it in any local curries.

Q. Do the seeds of the fruits and vegetables kept in a refrigerator germinate if we try to grow them?

A. Yes, they usually do in most cases.

All your gardening queries answered here

Q. I have a lemon plant which used to give lots of fruit. However, recently the size of the lemons has gone down as well as the quantity produced by the plant. Secondly, it is brownish yellow in colour. I am enclosing a photograph for your reference. Please advise how to improve the texture and colour. Your help will be greatly appreciated.

A. From my perspective the query is lacking a few things. Firstly, it would have been helpful if you had mentioned your city because that would help me ascertain the weather and rainfall in the area. Secondly, I do not know whether the plant is potted, planted in the ground or in an open space and its water schedule. Thirdly, there is no mention of the pesticides and fertilisers, if any, being used along with the health status of flowers and leaves. So, I am responding to your query with whatever experience and knowledge I have.

Green bell peppers can easily be grown at home
Green bell peppers can easily be grown at home

Having seen the photo you sent, I believe it is afflicted with one of the common fungal diseases that usually infect the citrus fruit and plants which is known as Citrus melanose. It usually spreads very quickly when it faces splash of water or rainfall. This is why all the infected fruit, flower or leaves should be immediately cut and removed from the plant. Seemingly, this fungal infection is the primary reason the colour of the lemons skin is browner and the size and quantity of the lemons on your plant has reduced significantly. Although, I would always recommend opting for organic alternatives, in this case you may need to purchase any of the copper-based pesticides widely available in plant stores throughout Pakistan, specifically for this type of fungal control in citrus. Try to spray it in the winter season and not during rainfall. It should ideally be sprayed before flowering phase or when there are very few flowers on the plant. The flowers are likely to fall off —one of the unwanted repercussions of using the spray. You may cut off and prune the crowded stems to increase air flow and aeration of the plant. I am hoping my response will help with your query. Do keep us updated.

Q. A plant seller on my street is selling potted small plants of marigold and petunia flowers but they are without flowers and buds. Should I purchase them or is it not the right season to do so?

A. It is the perfect time.

The only drawback is that you may not be able to identify the colour variations of the flowers beforehand.

Please send your queries and emails to doctree101@hotmail.com. The writer is a physician and a host for the YouTube channel ‘DocTree Gardening’ promoting organic kitchen gardening

Published in Dawn, EOS, November 26th, 2023

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