Capers are the unopened, unripened flower buds of the Capparis spinosa plant. They taste a little like lemony olives, and grow all over the Mediterranean basin. There are stories of capers growing wild, out of stone walls in Croatia, which is something I would love to see.
I first bought a plant a few years back, and without doing much research, planted it in the ground. My soil is very sandy, and tends to drain slowly. The plant isn't happy in this spot, but it does come back every spring with new leaves and flowers. Perhaps someday I'll move it to a better location.
In 2010, I stumbled upon a fantastic gardening blog, From Seed to Table - http://fromseedtotable.blogspot.com/. Michelle lives in Carmel Valley, on the Central California coast, and has a climate somewhat similar to mine. She has a caper obsession, and is a tremendous resource for sprouting and growing them. She was also kind enough to send me some seeds of a Croatian Caper in early 2011. While it was too late to plant them last year, now is perfect according to her instructions which can be found at her blog, under the page, My Caper Obsession - http://fromseedtotable.blogspot.com/p/my-caper-obsession.html.
According to Michelle, she has the best luck sowing the seeds between September and November, and leaving them in a moist, cool place until late winter. In late February or early March, they should be moved to a warmer spot where they can get some sun, but also not dry out. They should germinate in two to three weeks after that. I potted mine up this morning in some seeding mix, and placed them under a banana tree where they will stay until early March. The little potted trees behind the capers are cherimoya seedlings I planted a few years back. They really need to be repotted.
When I moved the flat this morning, I found a little salamander underneath. I think he is a Garden Slender Salamander, and now has the job of protecting my capers.
Hopefully we will see some activity come spring 2012 - stay tuned!