Posts Tagged ‘growing chillies’
Growing chillies is a very rewarding process, but often it’s the simplest things that get in the way of a great chili harvest, follow the advice below, and with a little care and attention you could be enjoying juicy, great tasting chillies in no time.
Germinating your chilli seeds
Many of us struggle with germinating chilli seeds and getting them out of the ground! First of all, make sure that you select a good compost or seed mix, and gently work out any hard lumps from the soil. Then place your chili seeds on top of the soil, planting them roughly 1-2 inches apart if planting multiple chile seeds. Then loosely sprinkle some soil over the seeds, but do not compact.
There are 2 main points that you will need to keep in mind to maximise your chances of germination. The first one is moisture – you can soak your pot(s) from the bottom using a tray filled with water the first time you water them to saturate the soil and activate your chilli seeds. For maintaining the moisture in the soil it is best to use a fine mist plant sprayer to water from the top. Aim to keep the soil moist but not soggy as this may cause your seeds to rot before them come up – just use your finger to test the surface of the soil. Watering your seed trays or pots with a plant sprayer causes less disturbance to your germinating seeds.
The second important point to note is temperature. Chilli seeds require a constant temperature range of between 27-32 degrees C (80-90 degrees F). This is easily achieved using a heated propagator, however an airing cupboard works extremely well for this purpose also.
Remember to keep checking your pots to see if any seedlings have emerged, as you will then need to move them to a well lit area such as a sunny window sill, otherwise you will end up with thin and wispy plants.
Re-potting your chilli plants into larger pots
When your seedlings get 3 sets of leaves and are strong enough to handle, now is the time to pot them on into a bigger pot. Chillies need to be potted on as they grow, otherwise their growth will slow and you may well miss the fruiting season because of this. Be careful not to damage the delicate roots when moving your seedlings and make sure you take as much soil as you can from the original pot to protect the root ball.
When potting on your chilli plant seedlings, it is better to increase the pot size gradually to allow the plant to adapt to the increased space and grow strong roots.
A good way to tell if your chilli plant needs replanting into a larger pot is by checking the drainage holes on the bottom of your pot – if you can see any root tips emerging from these holes, then now is a good time to transplant to a bigger pot. In addition, if your chilli plant suddenly droops for no reason and it has enough water, then this could also be a sign that it requires more space.
You can also plant your chilli plant outdoors once the danger of last frost has gone, although chilli plants usually grow quicker in warmer areas such as a sunny window sill or greenhouse.
When to water your chilli plants and how much
Often overlooked is the importance of watering. One of the most common situations is over-watering. Chilli plants like their soil to dry out before watering them again – they don’t like wet feet!
You can tell if your chilli plant needs water by its leaves – if they are drooping, give it a drink. The best way is to use your finger to test the top of the soil. Again, moist but not soggy is the goal here and if your plant looks well, then it probably is.
What to do when your chilli plant flowers
Once your chilli plant starts to produce flowers, you are doing well! Soon you will be enjoying the fruits of your labour, but now is a good time to highlight the importance of plant nutrition.
A lot is going when your chilli plant is in the flowering and fruiting stage and you will need to make sure that your plant has the correct nutrients it requires in order to produce big juicy chillies. You can feed your chilli plant with a general tomato fertiliser as chilli and tomato plants are very similar, however it is much better to feed your chili plants with a special chilli fertiliser, as they do have specific nutritional requirements – Chilli Focus fertiliser produces very tasty and juicy chillies and is organic based.
Remember to feed your chilli plant twice a week when it is fruiting and once a week at all other times to make sure it has all the nutrients it needs throughout the different stages of growth. This also makes your plants strong when it comes to “overwinter” them for next season.
Pollinating the flowers on your chilli plant
Unless your plants are outside where they are naturally pollinated by insects and the wind, then you will need to pollinate the flowers yourself as they open on your plant. You can do this with a small soft brush by gently dusting each flower. You will then notice over the next week or so that the flowers start to fall off and the fruits will begin to grow.
Chilli plants can also easily cross-pollinate with one another by insects or by air if the plants are close to each other, so if you are growing several different varieties, you may want to keep them apart as you will probably end up with some hybrids chillies.
Finally, make sure your plant gets lots of sunlight during this period and you will have some great tasting chillies at the end of the season!
Overwintering your chilli plants for next season’s crop
A common misconception is that chillies are annuals, but they can and will come back year after year, producing more and more chillies each season. Overwintering, as it is called, is the process of making sure your plant is ready to “sleep” for the winter. Feeding your plant well throughout the year can help make it’s roots and stem strong enough for the cold months ahead.
With a little care, a properly over-wintered chilli plant can bring a larger harvest, which will also arrive a little earlier in the season compared to growing again from seed. This is because when your plant “wakes up” in the spring, it already has an established root ball, so has a head start in the growing cycle.
The first thing to do when overwintering your chile plants is to pick all of the chillies from the plant when the growing season is over – this tells the plant to produce more in future.
Next you can prune back the plant to approximately 1/3 of its original height. This may sound harsh, but it allows the plant to conserve its energy for the next growing season by not having to maintain all that extra foliage, a bit like when you prune back a rose.
You will also need to keep your plants somewhere with a warm average temperature, where it doesn’t get too chilly in the night. Remember that you plant will also require a lot less water while it is dormant – once every 2 weeks is enough. Again, you can use your finger to test this.
Your plant will slow its growth as it goes into hibernation, so don’t worry if you don’t see any new shoots for a while. Come spring time, give it a few weeks and your plant will start to shoot and burst into life, read for the new years growing season with more chillies than you ever imagined! So, what are you waiting for, plant your chili seeds now and soon you could be enjoying plentiful fresh chillies that you can cook and entertain with.
After a long week wait and constant watering the Bhut Jolokia Seeds a single sprout emerged. I was a bit upset to see just 1. After reading my notes on the plant I then decided to leave the sprout and seeds as is and watered waiting for more sprouts to hopefully emerge. I’m glad I did because as the days past I noticed more and more green shoots popping out of the soil. Our Bhut Jolokia plants life has begun.
In fact these leaf looking things are called cotyledons which is part of the seed and serve as food sources until true leaves form. While the plant has no true leaves its not ready to move. I waited another week before i started to notice true leaves growing. While the chili plant is growing its true leaves the cotyledons are no longer needed, therefor it will die and drop off. This is when the plant begins to photosyntheise (the process that converts carbon dioxide into organic nuteriats, using the energy from sunlight) so the sprout container must be moved into a sunny area.
Once the sprouts are healthy with 4 leaves its time for the next big step. We must transplant the young chili trees into their adolescent pots. Choose a pot that is 3-5 inches tall. This will be the plants home for the next couple of months and will allow the growing chillie plant to establish a solid root system and grow. Transplanting a chili plant is delicate work as they are quite fragile especially at this young age. Ensure you minimize the root disturbance when you are separating the sprouts and if there is too much of a tangle it is best to choose the strongest looking ones and chop the other sprout. Do not transplant during the hottest part of the day, pick a cool time such as late afternoon.
Once the chili plants are setup in their new pot and had a few days to settle down fertilization is essential. Use a balanced fertilizer preferably one high in nitrogen and potassium, to encourage good roots and healthy growth.
Going forward the plant should be slowly introduced to full sunlit conditions. The Bhut Jolokia plant will need lots of sunlight and a daily watering. The next step we will need to take is move the plant to a bigger pot but this wont be for 2-3 months.
Follow my steps for transplanting your seedlings.
1. Ensure you have setup some new pots for the young plants, they should be about 3-5inches tall to accommodate a few months of growing. It needs to be filled with a good potting mix with plenty of drainage.
2. Loosen the soil that is currently holding the chili plants, do so by squeezing the containers sides. Once loose enough you should be able to carefully tip out the young chilli sprouts
3. Thin the sprouts if you can but be gentle, if you cant separate the chili sprouts your better off cutting the less healthy looking ones then damaging the roots of all.
4. Only handle the leaves of the chillie plant, the stem is very fragile and if injured will end the plants life, leaves will always grow back.
5. Make a hole in the soil of the new pots with your finger big enough for the sprouts to be placed in. Carefully move the chili sprouts into the new pot and lightly pack the soil in so the plant is held firmly and in a upright position.
6. Water the plant well and and put in a calm but sunny place.
7. A week later fertinilise with a high in nitrogen and potassium product.
This guide will follow the exact steps I took to grow the Bhut Jolokia. From obtaining the chilli seeds to harvesting the first fruit. It should take 4-6 months for the process to be complete and we encourage you to join along with your favorite hot chili.
Thanks to Auki Henry co-founder of HighRPM and the maker of How to make a cosmopolitan for his kind donation of the Bhut Jolokia chillie. A nice big fat chili was given to me to remove the seeds and start the growing chili process.
The first step was to cut the chili in half to get the Bhut Jolokia seeds. Great care was taken not to get the chili oils or seeds on my hands. Handling was done from the stem only and a sharp knife was used to remove the bhut jolokia seeds. This was a simple process which involved cutting the chili in half then cutting out the seeds.
WARNING: the Bhut Jonokia / Naga Jonokia is the world’s hottest pepper. The scoville scale rating is 1million scoville units. Extreme care must be taken to prevent contact with the eyes and other sensitive areas. Handing the chili or the seeds should be avoided and if you need to do so wear disposable gloves.
Once the seeds were extracted from the chillie we had to soak them in water for 20min. This will make the seed softer and water the inner seed to start the growing process.
Once the seeds were nice and wet they were ready to plant. We simply used a plastic cup filled with normal potting soil to germinate the seeds. We placed the seeds in the cup and covered them with no more then 5-10mm of soil. We watered the seeds well and ensured all the soil was moist. Keeping the soil moist in the next week or so is vital. The seeds need water to grow and the seeds must stay soft so that the sprout can break out and start to grow.
for the germination process we recommend placing the chili seeds in the most warm and humid location as possible, but not in direct sunlight.
We hope to have half a dozen sprouts penetrate the soil in the next 7-10 days. Please return to the site to see the next installment.
Happy chili growing readers.
Chili Plants are like people they will grow weak if not given enough of the basic necessities such as sun, water, air and nutrients. The tell tale signs of a sick looking chilli plant is when it starts to wilt. When your chili plant starts to wilt you must act fast to revive the suffering plant.
Chili plants in pots and particularly prone to dehydration and wilting. When you do not water your potted chillie plants enough, the soil tends to harden and clings closer to the roots and away from the pot’s sides. This creates gaps in which water can run off and out of the pot through the drainage holes, effectively starving the roots of your potted chillie plants.
First aid for sick Chili Plants
1. Fill a bucket, sink, container or basin halfway with water. Make sure the container is large enough to fit the entire pot, all the way to and over the rim.
2. Plunge the whole pot and plant into the water filled container. The water must cover the whole plant even over the pots rim. It’s all right if water covers some of the foliage. You may need to weigh down the pot with a brick or a stone to keep it from floating in the water.
3. Keep the plant in the container until bubbles stop rising from the soil. Bubbles indicate air pockets in soil and roots.
4. Keep the plant in the water for at least a half hour after the bubbles stop, to ensure that the soil is completely saturated.
5. Remove the pot from the container and allow the plant to drain.
6. Place the potted plant in a plastic bag and close it tightly. This step will provide much needed humidity to the foliage while the roots go back into action. Keep the bagged plant in a shady area so that the moisture doesn’t dry out.
7. Remove the plant from the bag and move it back to its original location once it has revived. This could take as little as a few hours, or several days. Do not put the plant back into the sun till its looks healthy and green again as the sun will extract water from the plant.
8. Give the post some mulch that will hold moisture and humidity. Remember to water your growing chillie plants regularly. Once a day is ideal.
Other Tips for Dehydrated Chili Plants
– Any brown leaves or stems will been to be cut off, they are dead and we cannot save them.
– Plants in the ground or in pots too big to shift can be treated by pushing the hose as far into the soil around the roots as possible so that it can soak the roots and eliminate any air pockets or dry root balls.
– Moisten the leaves when watering as it increases humidity around the plants leaves keeping them moist and reducing dehydration.
The reason i wrote this article was because i went on holidays for 8 days and my plants got dehydrated. I was so upset to come home and find 6 wilted chili plants. Luckily doing these steps revived all but 2 of the chili plants.
The Habanero chili is one of the worlds hottest peppers!!! The chili’s name derived from the name of the Cuban city of La Habana, which is known as Havana in English. Although it is not the place of origin, it was frequently traded there. Mexico is the largest consumer of this spicy ingredient but its flavor and aroma have become increasingly popular all over the world.
The Habanero chili most likely originated in the Yucatán Peninsula of Mexico and even to this day the crop is most widely cultivated there. In fact about 1,500 tons of Habaneros are harvested each year in Mexico. Panama, Costa Rice and several states in the USA also grow and produce the chilly. It is often mistakenly referred to as the hottest pepper in the world and once upon a time it was until the mighty Bhut Jolokia came along! Habanero chili peppers are rated 200,000–350,000 on the Scoville scale.
A ripe habanero is 2–6 centimetres (0.8–2.4 in) long, 3-5cm (1 to 2 inches) in diameter and they are lantern-shaped, round or oblong. Habanero’s are green until maturity when they then turn to colours such as orange, red, white, brown, and pink.
Habaneros are similar to most other chilies and thrive in hot weather. Morning sun is ideal with slightly moist soil. In tropical regions the Habanero is one growing chilli that can produce all year round. Colder climates the plant will die off in the winter.
The Habanero’s heat, its fruity citrus-like flavor, and its floral aroma have made it a popular ingredient in hot sauces and spicy foods. In some cases, particularly in Mexico, Habaneros are placed in tequila bottles for a period ranging from several days, to several weeks, to make a spiced version of the drink.
One of the world’s most recognised chillies is the Tabasco. It’s no doubt that Tabasco is most famous for the sauces that these chillies are made into. This is possible because Tabasco peppers are not dry, the inside of the fruit is wet. Tabasco chilis rate between 30,000 and 50,000 on the scoville scale.
The Tabasco plant is quite distinctive as its very bushy and unlike most chilis the Tabasco fruits grow up rather then hanging down from the stems.
The Tabasco peppers grow to about 4cm and change colour from light yellow and green to orange then eventually ripen at a bright red colour.
Characteristics of the Tabasco bush
Plant height – 4-5 feet
Stem color – Green
Leaf color – Green
Leaf size – medium
Fruit color – light yellow and green to orange and bright red at maturity
Fruit shape – long and conical
Fruit length – 4cm
Fruit width at shoulder .5 cm
Fruit surface smooth
Tabasco Planting tips
Tabasco chillis like most other chillies grow best in warmer weather. People in colder climates should plant the seeds indoors in a warm spot during the winter month. The seeds will germinate and start to grow. When the winter is over the plants can be moved outside ready for the spring and summer months.
When potting Tabasco plants make sure that there is good water drainage. They also like sandy soil conditions so don’t be afraid to add in some sand.
Regular watering is required and if ensure the Tabasco plant has good sunlight and daily watering you should see fruits appear in about 120 days.
Once you have some Tabasco chillies try to make some Tabasco sauce. A simple recipe is provided.
Homemade Tabasco Sauce
1 pound fresh red Tabasco peppers, chopped
2 cups distilled white vinegar
2 teaspoons salt
1 clove garlic (optional)
Combine the chiles, garlic and the vinegar in a saucepan and heat. Stir in the salt and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from the heat, cool, and place in a blender. Puree until smooth and place in a glass jar. Allow to steep for 2 weeks in the refrigerator. Remove, strain the sauce, and adjust the consistency by adding more vinegar if necessary.
You have to see this to believe it. Peter Peppers are a conversational piece to say the least!!!!
The peter pepper chilli pods look like “a man’s private parts”. Hence why they are known as the Penis Pepper and Chili Willy.
This chilli is quite rare and comes from the southern states of Louisiana and Texas.
Peter Peppers are listed as a medium heat on the scoville scale ranking. Peter peppers are 5,000 to 30,000 Scoville Units which is hotter than Tabasco and even more hotter than the Jalapeno.
Characteristics of the Peter Pepper Plant
Plant height up to 3 feet
Stem color Green
Leaf color Green
Fruit color at maturity green and red
Fruit shape conical
Fruit length 2-4inches
Fruit width at shoulder 1inch
Fruit surface shaped
Peter peppers seeds can be purchased and grown within 6-7 months. Germination tips, soil tips and all other growing chillies from seed guides are available from growing chillies. As with all chillies they need regular watering and plenty of sun for optimal results.
Peter Peppers are a defiant must for the chilli growing enthusiast. They would make great presents for a fellow gardening enthusiast also. Purchase some peter pepper seeds today and let us know how your plant went.
Growing Chillies in a pot lets you build and maintain the optimal soil conditions. When is the last time you have seen chillies grown in swamps…NEVER!! Chillies plants are quite fragile and need good draining soil. The top layer of the soil should be a light but moisture holding mulch. Topping up the mulch every 4 weeks or so will keep the nutrition running through the chillies roots.
To Grow Chilli choose a soil or mulch that is higher in potassium. Chilli plants fruit better when potassium is slowly feeding through the roots and plant. Try to avoid nitrogen as the plants will grow soft leaves and minimal fruit will be produced.
If you really want to make your chillies thrive and fruit well as soon as the plants start growing little flowers place some premium organic soil or fertiliser on top of the pot. If you’re on a budget any multipurpose compost is will help out.
Remember that Growing Chillies requires regular watering, once a day they must be watered to keep the soil moist and the roots nourished. And don’t forget Growing Chillies in sunlight will keep them at optimal health.
Growing chillies and easy and fun. Young kids to elderly people can grow chillies with minimal effort. Growing chillies don’t require much time to mature and you are able to harvest the fruit which makes them a ideal starting plant for your home garden.
Chillies thrive in warmer climates but can grow in coler places also. I have friends in North Europe who grow them on their windowsill to get maximum warmth.
Chillies can be grown from simply collecting the seeds from the chillies you would buy at the local supermarket or groser. it is however recommended that you purchase chillie seeds from a specialise store to maximise your results.
There are thousands of different types of chillies and choosing the right ones to grow for your climate and taste is essential.
Chilli plants don’t take up much space and can be grown in a pot or in the garden. You can grow them if you live in apparpments. We currently have 3 chillie pots and our balcony is no bigger then the average family car.
Things to look out for when growing chillies is that the stems are quite thin and sometimes fragile, sometimes you need to aid them with a support stick or something to lean against. Humands are not the only creatures that want to comsume chillies, grubs and other insects like to feed on the trees and must be dealts with accordingly.