The Christmas issue

Our December issue is out now, featuring Paul Carmichael's recipes for a Caribbean Christmas, silly season cocktails and more.

Subscribe to Gourmet

Subscribe to Australian Gourmet Traveller before 28th December, 2016 for your chance to win a share of $50,000!

Gourmet digital

Subscribe to Gourmet Traveller for your iPad or Android tablet.

Top 35 recipes of 2016

2016 was all about slow-roasting, fresh pasta and comfort food. These are the recipes you clicked on most this year, counting back to number one.

Decadent chocolate dessert recipes for Christmas

13 of our most decadent chocolate recipes to indulge guests with this Christmas.

Christmas vegetarian recipes

The versatility of vegetarian dishes means they can be served alongside meat and seafood, or enjoyed simply as they are. With Christmas just around the corner, we’ve put together some of our favourite vegetarian recipes to appease both herbivores and carnivores alike.

Best travel destinations in 2017

We're thinking big for travelling in 2017 - and so should you. Will we see you sunrise at Java's 9th-century Borobudur Buddhist temple, across the table at Reykjavik's newest restaurants or swimming side-by-side with humpback whales off Western Australia's coast?

Chilled recipes for summer

When the mercury is rising, step away from the oven. These recipes are either raw, chilled or frozen and will cool you down in a snap.

What the GT team is cooking on Christmas Day

We don't do things by halves in the Gourmet office. These are the recipes we'll be cooking on the big day.

Summer feta recipes

Whether in a fresh salad or seasonal seafood dish, feta's creamy tang can be used to add interest to a variety of summer dishes.

Christmas ham recipes

The centrepiece of any Christmas feast, hams can be glazed with many ingredients. Here are our favourite combinations.

How to grow capsicum

It's officially summer and party season for us and our vegetables, not least the capsicum - a slow bloomer worth the wait, says Mat Pember.

December's here and we've shifted into another gear. It's summer and that means not only has the heat cranked up, but life has too: it's party time - for us and the veggie patch. It can be a juggling act managing the planting opportunities of the new season with a busy social calendar, but being proactive with mulching, staking and watering will give summer-loving crops such as capsicum the best chance to thrive.

A member of the Solanaceae family, which includes chilli, eggplant and tomato, capsicum is best planted once the soil temperature is stable at a balmy 20C plus. Much like its cousins, capsicum is a heat-loving variety, but that doesn't mean it enjoys baking in the sun without refreshment.

Capsicum requires well-drained soil that has been integrated with compost and chook-poo pellets before planting for a hit of nitrogen to get started. Or, if the last of your nitrogen-fixing broad beans have just hit the dinner table, plant capsicum where they once stood.

Afford them the hottest part of your patch to accelerate the ripening of the fruit when the time comes, but keep them protected from wind, which will throw the plants around and dry them out. If they're planted in an exposed position, consider installing a windbreak or stake them once planted.

Space seedlings 20 to 30 centimetres apart and expect casualties from the heat. Thin out to 40 to 50 centimetres four to six weeks after planting so healthy plants have room to mature. In summer, hydration is critical and young seedlings need regular watering to get established. Give them splashes daily, or twice daily if it's particularly hot. Time the second watering for the tea-break in the cricket and be careful not to wet the foliage - it may burn in the sun.

Once planted, mulch with pea straw, lucerne hay or sugar cane; this not only holds moisture in the soil, regulates temperature and bullies out competing weeds, it also provides nutrition as it breaks down. Mulch to a depth of three to five centimetres, keeping a few centimetres clear around the stems, as capsicums are prone to stem rot.

After a month, the seedlings will start to find their feet and watering can be cut back to two to three times a week. While the frequency of watering is reduced, the volume of water is increased. Giving the soil a good soak, and then allowing it to almost dry, encourages the roots to reach for water, creating a stronger plant.

By the third month, flowers should start to appear and the long wait for a vine-ripened capsicum begins. Give plants an application of liquid potash to help them develop and, while you're at it, check the mulch levels and staking. The summer heat can be a killer, but with the right care and watering, your plants will go nuts. Check, secure and reinforce regularly.

As the fruit develops, your patience will be tested; capsicums take a month or so to form fully and even longer to reach their ripened colour. It can be a frustrating wait, but you'll appreciate the price difference between red and green capsicums.

The plants will produce for an extended period - sometimes well into winter - but the rate of production and ripening will get even slower as the temperature cools. Rather than rip out the plant and start again next season, cut it right back to the main stem and strongest offshoots, and leave it in the ground. Once the soil warms up again next spring, it will re-shoot and take up where it left off, but a little stronger, a little hardier and a little better - if not faster - at producing.

One-minute skills: choosing the right pot
As potted gardening becomes more popular - through necessity often rather than choice - many people make the mistake of planting into pots that are too small. It's an easy trap to fall into, but the herb you just bought in a 100-millimetre pot shouldn't find its new home in a similarly tiny pot. Here's some advice on choosing pots. Other than saving space and money, small pots present few benefits, particularly for the plant itself. Without enough room to spread its wings (or, more appropriately, its roots) it will quickly become pot-bound and stunted. it may look awkward at first - much like your child's first pair of school shoes - but seedlings need to find homes in pots large enough to let them realise their full potential. It's a sliding scale: a 30-centimetre pot will see your herb happy for a year; a 50-centimetre pot a lifetime. A larger growing space gives the plant more opportunity to draw in enough nutrition and moisture to really take flight. And with your plants happy, you will be too.

What to plant
Cool/mountainous
Artichoke seedling
Asparagus seedling
Basil seedling
Beans seed
Beetroot seed
Bok Choi/Pak Choi seedling
Capsicum seedling
Carrot seed
Chilli seedling
Cucumber seedling
Eggplant seedling
Herbs seedling
Kale seedling
Lettuce seedling
Pumpkin seedling
Rocket seedling
Radish seed
Silverbeet seedling
Spinach seedling
Spring onion seedling
Squash seedling
Sweet Corn seedling
Tomato seedlgin
Strawberry seedling
Zucchini seedling

Temperate
Artichoke seedling
Asparagus seedling
Basil seedling
Beans seed
Beetroot seed
Bok Choi/Pak Choi seedling
Capsicum seedling
Carrot seed
Chilli seedling
Cucumber seedling
Eggplant seedling
Herbs seedling
Lettuce seedling
Pumpkin seedling
Rocket seedling
Radish seed
Silverbeet seedling
Spinach seedling
Spring onion seedling
Squash seedling
Sweet Corn seedling
Tomato seedling
Strawberry seedling
Zucchini seedling

Sub tropical
Basil seedling
Beans seed
Beetroot seed
Bok Choi/Pak Choi seedling
Capsicum seedling
Carrot seed
Chilli seedling
Cucumber seedling
Eggplant seedling
Herbs seedling
Lettuce seedling
Rocket seedling
Radish seed
Pumpkin seedling
Silverbeet seedling
Spring onion seedling
Strawberry seedling
Squash seedling
Sweet corn seedling
Tomato seedling
Zucchini seedling

Tropical
Basil seedling
Beans seed
Bok Choi/Pak Choi seedling
Capsicum seedling
Chilli seedling
Cucumber seedling
Eggplant seedling
Herbs seedling
Lettuce seedling
Pumpkin seedling
Rocket seedling
Radish seed
Silverbeet seedling
Spring onion seedling
Squash seedling
Strawberry seedling
Sweet Corn seedling
Tomato seedling
Zucchini seedling

Newsletter

Sign up to receive the latest food, travel and dining news direct from Gourmet Traveller headquarters.

Latest news
On the Pass with Abla Amad
09.12.2016
Explainer: wild scampi caviar
30.11.2016
GT's Christmas hamper
29.11.2016
David Thompson's favourite hot sauce
28.11.2016
Our 2016 Christmas issue is out now
28.11.2016
Bruce Pascoe’s crowd-funded Indigenous agriculture project
27.11.2016
GT
Signature Collection

Find out more about the Gourmet Traveller Signature Collection by Robert Gordon Australia, including where to buy it in store and online.

Read More
The GT x STILY
Christmas Boutique is now open

The smallgoods, homewares, art and more from the pages of GT are now all under one roof, ready to take their place under the tree.

Read More
Gourmet TV

Check out our YouTube channel for our latest cover recipes, chef cooking demos, interviews and more.

Watch Now

You might also like...

Dee Nolan and Nolans Road

Nolans Road oil is acclaimed by top chefs and forms the life...

How to grow your own carrots

In the first outing of our new gardening column, Mat Pember ...

How to grow your own beetroot

Beetroot: it’s an agreeable grower, cures hangovers and boos...

How to plant cucumbers

Spring planting ups the anticipation of warmer weather, so s...

How to grow zucchini

The French say courgettes, we say zucchini – whatever you ca...

How to grow tomatoes

Rediscover the true taste of tomatoes – there’s no substitut...

How to grow your own carrots

In the first outing of our new gardening column, Mat Pember ...

How to grow your own beetroot

Beetroot: it’s an agreeable grower, cures hangovers and boos...

How to plant cucumbers

Spring planting ups the anticipation of warmer weather, so s...

How to grow zucchini

The French say courgettes, we say zucchini – whatever you ca...

How to grow tomatoes

Rediscover the true taste of tomatoes – there’s no substitut...

get the latest news

Sign up to receive the latest food, travel and dining news direct from Gourmet Traveller headquarters.

×