Serrano chili peppers, also known as Capsicum annuum longum, was originally grown in the mountains of Mexico. The name serrano, is derived from the term sierras which refers to the mountains in that region. Serrano chili pepper is several times hotter than the Japapeno pepper, scoring a Scoville Scale rating in between 10,000 – 25,000. Because of the spicy taste it gives, it is often used in hot dishes like Pico de Gallo. The serrano pepper size is about 1-2 inches and they come in dark green and red colours.
The first step is to let the serrano chili pepper seeds sprout and it is done by sowing the seeds ¼ inch deep in a seedling tray. It needs some warmth and sunshine in order to germinate properly. Since you have to put it indoor, you can place a heat mat under the tray and put the tray near a window with lots of sun exposure. Artificial lighting is a good substitute if not enough sun is entering through the window.
After 2 – 3 weeks, you can transplant the young plant into the garden. There should be a distance of about 12 – 48 inches apart each young plant. Each row should be at least 24 – 36 inches apart. Peppers like warm temperature so you should plant them in places that get lots of sun. The area of the garden where you plant the peppers should have a fertile soil with a PH between 6.2 – 7. The soil must be well drained otherwise it will cause disease like leaf spot.
If you want it to yield heavy fruit, your soil must be rich in potassium, calcium, and phosphorus. In addition, you must regularly water the plant and make sure the soil is moist all the time. If your soil don’t have enough nutrients, you can put 3 – 5 inches of compost above the soil. Organic fertilizer is best used to fertilize the plant.
When growing them early in spring, you can use a row cover to keep them warm and protect them from the cold. If a surprise spring frost is in the forecast, it is advised that you use a frost blanket to cover and protect the young plants. The plant tend to do poorly and the leaves may turn yellowish when the temperature falls below 55º F or 12º C.
The chili is ready for harvesting in 2.5 months starting from the day you transplant them. It will yield a lot of small waxy green fruits in 60 days. After 80 – 100 days, the green peppers will be big and ripe in red, yellow or orange color. When harvesting, you simply use a pruning shear or sharp knife to nip off the chili pepper. The fruit can last longer if you keep the stem attached. After harvesting the peppers, you can keep them in a air tight plastic bag or plastic container in the refrigerator.