Chilli-tastic – October

A little chilli update for the month of October:

I had no idea that it had been so long since my last update which was in August.  How time flies!

Well as my chilli season comes to and end and I’ve just got a few pods left to harvest I have to say it’s been a jolly good year for chilli growing in the garden.

Aside from a couple of storms, which caught some of the plants off guard, the rest have grown strong and produced flowers and bountiful pods.

At the end of last month I harvested most of the pods.  Not only did I manage to fill up two large vinegar jars with pods for pickling, but had fresh ones to give away to friends and family.  On top of that I’ve also got a line of cayenne peppers hanging up to dry.

The pods left over are the ones I’ve really been waiting for – the Naga’s!

I hoping to make my own hot chilli sauce with those.

Review of the year:

As the growing season ends there are a few things I’ve learnt around growing chillies this year:

  • The grow-house I bought from the local pound shop was perfect for growing chillies.  Well worth £7.99 because over winter I can now use it to cover one of the beds for winter salads.
  • Seaweed is the preferred food for growing chillies.  Even tomato feed with extra seaweed can make all the difference.
  • Starting off the seeds early in the year is a good idea but unless you’ve got the specialist equipment like heat pads and lighting there really is no point sowing until end of February, beginning of March (with a heated propagator).  Once seeds have germinated as long as you can keep them in a warm, light room until May then they will be fine.
  • Good air circulation around the plants is key to ensuring better pollination and keeping down greenfly
  • The wool pellets I bought earlier in the year were great for keeping the slug and snail population down.  While it’s difficult to completely eradicate these pests who find it easy to climb up anything to reach the chilli plants it did at slow the destruction right down.
  • Having said that, even though some of the plants were munched on, they still did well and went on to produce flowers and pods.  Sometimes we worry that the plant doesn’t look nice enough with holes in the leaves but actually it worked out okay!

Moving on

I’ve decided to reduce the number of plants I grow next year.  Having learnt that I can’t grow the more specialist varieties of chillies it means I can concentrate on those that can be grown well in my part of the world, varieties which can be used for cooking or preserving over winter.

In the world of chilli growing I think I’ve gone as far as I can with it.  So next season chilli growing will blend in to become part of the rest of the garden’s growing space, rather than a dedicated crop on it’s own.  I’ve thoroughly enjoyed trialing chilli varieties and growing the plants, and I’ve learnt loads over the past five years.  I’d recommend anyone having a go at growing them.

Chilli plants that can be grown in the UK without extra heat and light include Jalapeno’s, Cayenne, any of the varieties which state annumm on the seed packets.  Rather than those varieties that put all their effort into making the plant for years of repeated pods like the chinense (habaneros) or pubescens (rocoto) varieties, as well as heritage types too.  That’s not to say you can’t grow the other varieties, indeed it’s possible, but just that these varieties take longer to look after and need more time (and in some instances extra equipment) given to them.

Let me know how you’re getting on with your chilli plants and please share any photo’s you have.

Why Hitting a Brick Wall isn’t so Bad

I’d hit a wall regarding my half-marathon training.  I did my 11 mile run on the Saturday which was a real boost and then after that I lost motivation, commitment and enthusiasm for it all, just like that.

The fatigue came on like a wave.

In the previous eight weeks of training I didn’t have to think about running at all but by week nine I wasn’t only thinking about it I was positively fretting about it.

Of course things never work out as planned, even with the best laid plans.  I realised my plans hadn’t factored in three issues:

  • Fatigue (in conjunction with lack of sleep)
  • Injury
  • Autumn

Now you may be thinking the first two are completely understandable (although the plan should have prevented it, more about that later), and really I should have allowed myself an extra two weeks training for any rest and recoupment but I didn’t so I’ve learn an important lesson there.

But what on earth have I listed Autumn for?

Every year, around this time I get hit with a real sense of glum.  It’s official name you might recognise as SAD (seasonal affective disorder).  I hate making an issue of it but seeing as it’s just made an issue of me I figured it best to share.

I thought I’d escaped it this yr because after all we’d had a decent summer and I’d picked up as much vitamin D as I could over the months.

However it would seem this isn’t going to pass me by and for another couple of weeks, until the season settles and I get reacquainted with dark nights and cold temperatures my mind and my body just kind of falters slightly while it grapples with the environment changes.

Don’t get me wrong, I love autumn.  I love the colours of the leaves, the crisp air, the birds chirping for food.  I don’t mind all that.  It’s simply the transition that my body doesn’t cope well with.  I go through this in Spring (around March time) although it’s not nearly as hindering.

So along with the fatigue having this SAD come along had also caused me to just fall back somewhat and in between my running schedule has got caught up.

It’s not all bad

I don’t think the changing of the seasons should be seen as a bad thing.  I see it more of a time for reflection. What has been archived, what would I like to achieve?  It’s a time to cut back the unnecessary stuff/work/areas in my life and concentrate on only that which brings happiness and usefulness.

As for the half-marathon training I think it might simply be something that I just need a temporary break from. This not only allows my body to recover from the stress it’s been put under recently (my knees and hips are not happy bunnies), but it also tells me I need to mix things up a bit.

While competing in an official half-marathon would have been nice, it was not my main goal for doing the training.

I did it for one thing only – to see if I could run the distance.  Whether that’s measured in official terms or not does not bother me so much as not actually getting the 13.1 miles completed.  The stress of trying to get 11 weeks of training in just so I could attend an event seemed a little pointless and could have aided more injury complications later on.

So I decided to pull away from the event and concentrate on just getting the distance done.

If you’re in the middle of training at the moment and you hit a brick wall, don’t beat yourself up.  Like me you’ll still be:

  • Following the plan
  • Getting fit

And that’s fine.  Sometimes you need to stand still, take stock, look at the wider picture and accept the fact that carrying on in the same vain isn’t going to work.  There is more than one way of completing things.

So accommodate changes as necessary, even if that means delaying, taking a break, doing it a different way, or just sleeping for a whole day!

Update:

You’ll be pleased to know I did in fact complete all 13.1 miles in 2hrs 54mins, two weeks before the date of the official event.

I decided to go it alone and I felt ready to complete it (as having completed 11 miles previously).

Yes it was done on a treadmill and yes it was boring as it sounds.  And no I wouldn’t recommend doing it that way, but as any runner knows once you’ve put all that effort in you want to see results, how ever they are achieved.

A lot of runners wouldn’t scoff at my attempt, but running can be all sorts of things, it doesn’t have to always be official, nor recognised.

I’m pretty proud of myself for completing that distance.

I would debate about going for long distance training again.  For me I prefer smaller, higher intensity runs.  It sure was good to have a go though, and as always I learnt so much from the training :-)