This is the time of year to plant Chilli seeds for a summer crop.
Chilli plants are not hard to grow and they usually last several years and can crop all year round. They are an indoor crop unless you have a heated greenhouse.
The main trick is to get them to germinate:
- Use a shallow seed tray
- Place in a really warm place, they like temperatures of around 30 degrees (they are from hot countries after all!) I covered mine in cling film and put them on a windowsill above a radiator and kept turning it round to bake all corners! It took a few weeks but eventually they all came up.
- Once they are showing you can uncover them.
- Keep the soil moist but not wet.
When they look sturdy enough to be transplanted just pop one or 2 in a pot. I have 2 fully grown plants in an approximately 6” pot and they have been pretty happy for about 3 years.
Water sparingly – you will know if they are too dry they will suddenly wilt, but you don’t want to drown them.
When they flower; if they are indoors you may need to be the bee and pollinate your flowers by using a paintbrush. Mine are in the porch and I fear there must be enough wildlife in there that they no longer need it!
Once they start fruiting water more regularly so that they can swell and consider a fruit & veg liquid feed to keep them healthy every now and then.
Using your chillies
Chillies come in loads of different varieties, from the mind-meltingly hot Naga to those that just offer a slight buzz. Some like the Naga have a very distinctive taste (ideal for Mexican food) while others are simply warm and or taste like red or green peppers. Try one cautiously raw before cooking to find out. The pithy bit where the seeds attach is usually the hottest bit.
If you get more chillies than you can eat just pop them in a freezer bag and freeze them. Ideal for using in chilli or curry!