Real World Gardener Growing Capers in Spice it Up

April 22nd, 2015

REAL WORLD GARDENER Wed. 5pm 2RRR 88.5fm Sydney, streaming live at and Across Australia on the Community Radio Network.<?xml:namespace prefix = "o" />


Real World Gardener is funded by the Community Broadcasting Foundation (CBF).

The complete CRN edition of RWG is available on , just click on 2RRR to find this week’s edition. The new theme is sung by Harry Hughes from his album Songs of the Garden. You can hear samples of the album from the website


with Ian Hemphill from

Most spices and herbs come from the leaves or bark of a plant, but what about the flower?

Capers-Caparis spinosa photo M Cannon

Yes we can put Nasturtium and borage flowers in our salads but these only impart a small amount of flavour compared to this next spice.


Well capers that you might buy in the supermarket look like little green soft fruits that sometimes come in a brine and sometimes are packed in pure salt in jars.


Capers or Caparis spinosa, is actually a bush which is called caper bush.

Caper bush plants are readily available and grow as a hardy shrub originating in the Mediterranean, the Middle East and Northern Africa.

If your district you can grow olives, grapes, almonds, and pistachios, then you can also grow capers.

Have you ever eaten Spaghetti alla Puttanesca,- that’s chockers with capers, what about Penne with anchovies, capers and toasty crumbs?

Ever heard of caper butter on crusty bread with vegetables and meats, or used in stuffing for fish?

Did you know that there are about 20 native caper species in Australia, some of which are trees?

However, the traditional caper comes from the Mediterranean region, and parts of the Middle East.

Caper bush photo M Cannon

Think hot and dry and arid for the natural conditions that this plant grows in if you’re thinking of growing a caper bush yourself.


The bush itself only grows to a metre, and it’s a pretty tough plant needing no extra water after it’s established.

Capers are as dry tolerant as Eucalypts and Wattle trees because like gum trees and wattles, capers have a deep tap root that can search for water as well as a surface root system that picks up the morning dew.

Well drained soil is the best kind for this bush and adding good compost and lime to the soil will also help the caper bush along.

Although capers love hot temperatures, frost is no problem.

The flowers are white with long purple stamens and usually only lasts for one day.

But if you want to use them in cooking, capers need to be picked when the bud is still tight.

You’ll get buds every couple of weeks during the warmest months.

If you have any questions about growing or buying caper bush plants, write in to or write in to 2RRR P.O. Box 644 Gladesville NSW 1675.

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