When I said that I wanted to grow chillies, my Dad who is a gardener told me that they can be difficult to grow. I suspect he was challenging me as I maybe good in the kitchen, but seem to have a knack at killing plants from 20 yards.
I love Chilli plants and decided it was about time to have one on my kitchen table, a lovely sunny spot, which seems to be ideal conditions for these plants. I am fed up with buying chillies in plastic packets from the supermarket. The idea of fresh food and my attempt at also growing fresh herbs, just outside the back door, has gained momentum now that the warmer weather is on its way.
Having done some internet research and quizzing my Dad about the best growing conditions of these apparent fussy plants, I was ready to plant!
In order to plant, you need a flower pot (yoghurt pot or other plastic tub you were going to throw out – make sure you make a couple of holes in the bottom and sit it on a saucer or plate), a clear plastic bag or dome, rubber band, potting compost and of course the chilli seeds. Choose wisely. There are many varieties of chilli plant (using the scoville scale below to measure heat). I have chosen the F1 Apache chilli plant as they are compact plants with average size chillies of medium heat, which can be grown in the smallest of gardens or patios, in containers or even hanging baskets.
I found this infographic at Fix.com. Click the image to read their article.
The seeds need a constant supply of warmth. Fine if you live in a warm climate, but here in the UK where the nights are still cold, you need to think wisely about position. I was expecting the process to be tricky, without a greenhouse and propagator at the time.
So a sunny windowsill in my study (south facing) and used the technique above, with just a flower pot and a way to seal the top with a plastic freezer bag. Ensure you do not let the soil dry out or over water and in about 7 – 10 days, you should start to see the seedlings pop up.
Once they have four or six leaves and are strong enough to be transplanted to larger flower pots. The less you move them, the better as they don’t like be transplanted, as the roots are disturbed and this can actually hold them back. Water before transplanting as it will hold more of the soil around the roots. In their final pots, only put one plant per pot to allow to grow out and not tangle with the fruit. You will probably need a central support as the branches will droop with weight of the chillies. Ensure every time you water the seedlings, that you include a liquid feed, with nutrients like seaweed.
Only once the last frosts have gone, should these be allowed outside and in a gradual manner. That said, these plants love the warmth and sunshine, so if you have a sunny spot inside your house, conservatory etc, they will be fine indoors. When putting outside in the sun, these plants actually benefit from some afternoon shade, to prevent the fruit from burning (so I’m told). When did I suddenly become a gardener? I think I will still stick to cooking, but it will be nice to walk into the garden a pull off some chillies for cooking!
I actually found this whole process very enjoyable and so far, all five seeds have germinated and I have now transplanted the seedlings into individual pots. They are slow growing plants, so you have to be patient, even though I go and check on them daily.
Now I have a propagator and have rocket, peppers, sage and chives growing.
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