Chilli-tastic – October Update

Sad, I know, but this will be the last post for 2013 on growing chillies as the season for my plants has now come to an end.

That’s not to say I won’t continue to blog about chillies in all their glory, there is still plenty more to report – just not my chillies.

Before I say goodbye to my growing season I thought I’d give one last update from the Forget-me-Not Cultivation garden.

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October Update

It was a fairly decent season for me this year.  Not wildly amazing, nor masses of pods to show off but I have grown enough chillies this year to achieve two things:

  1. Have enough kept in the fridge/freezer for a six month period
  2. Have varieties that can be used in cooking that really spice the flavors up

I have also learnt a lot this year from areas of growing that have and haven’t done so well:

  • The size of the chilli plants and how big they can grow
  • The varieties I chose and the ones I didn’t.
  • Types of housing for the chilli plants
  • The importance of keeping the heat in the grow house, especially early on in the season
  • To get sowing as early in the season as possible – indoors and heated!

That’s what I truly love about chillies, there are so many variables to the standard plant.  From one year to the next I never know what varieties I’ll be growing, how well they will grow, how hot the pods will get and I’m always surprised by the weather, both good and bad.

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Current Plants

I’m wondering whether to keep the larger (non ornamental varieties) over winter?  Chilli plants by their very nature are perennial but in the past I’ve tended to start stocks fresh every year because any plants I do keep over winter tend to get attacked by mold due the cold and damp conditions,  and by the following February start to look very sorry for themselves.  However all my bigger varieties have taken so long to get growing without anything to show I’m thinking maybe I’ll let them try to flower again next yr and hopefully get to the pod stage.  I’m talking of all my 7-pots, my aji umba and the rocoto orange.

The seaweed feed certainly worked.  It made all 12 plants grow vigorously and I certainly had no problem chilli wise with the smaller compact varieties.  The basket of fire plant and the loco F1 started producing chillies in late July and just haven’t stopped.

I shall make one final harvest from those two varieties and store them away so I can use them over winter.  I think freezing or possibly pickling might be the way to go but either way I wouldn’t hesitate to grow these types again.  The rich deep purple coloured pods of the Loco F1 aren’t all that hot (compared to say a habenero) but for their small size a couple of them are more than enough in every day cooking.  The basket of fire on the other hand is hot, both at green and red stages.  I couldn’t eat one raw lets put it that way!  Again, just a couple were enough to use in every day cooking.

Both the plants were extremely pretty to watch growing as the colours changed on the pods.  Unfortunately packed away in my little grow-house I only got to see them when I took them out twice a week for pest inspection and watering.  They really need to be on display, hence why they are often referred to as patio chillies.

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Looking forward

As any chilli grower know you can’t sit around long.  This season may well and truly be over for me but that doesn’t mean I can’t start preparing for the start of sowing next Jan (which is only 91 days away!).  Things I am considering for next year are:

  • Creating, from scratch a better chilli house that can maintain heat temperatures more evenly
  • Experimenting with new varieties
  • Learning more about traditional varieties
  • Understanding the types of varieties and what the difference is between Capsicum Chinense, and Capsicum Annuum
  • Trying to over winter this years larger plants
  • Perhaps grow more plants in raised beds?

So much to learn.  I better crack on!

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14 responses to “Chilli-tastic – October Update

  1. I like you adore chillies. Even though they are perennial, I always hoist them out and start afresh. I have some happily growing now in pots and will pop those into the soil in the next month or so! :)

    • Gosh that sounds a nice place. I would imagine it’s still quite warm over there? What varieties do you grow? Would you recommend any in particular?
      Thanks for stopping by the blog :-)

  2. Pingback: Chilli-tastic – November Update | The Forget-me-Not Cultivation Blog·

  3. Great blog. And I love growing chillies. I also love all of the different ways that folks spell chilies. However, I don’t like spicy food! I grow my chillies for gifting purposes. (Though I did grow them commercially at one point in my life)

    • Thank you very much, great to have a new reader. Welcome aboard!
      Yes there are so many ways of spelling ‘chillies’. I think over here in the UK we tend to put and ‘e’ on the end. I’m interested to hear more about your growing them. How did you gift them? As plant or as sauces?
      I know where to come now for chilli growing advice ;-)

      • I’ve only grown them in a sub-tropical climate… so unfortunately, I’m not even that helpful for myself in California! I am a big fan of keyhole gardens. Do you have those in the UK?

      • Ahh I see, a really chilli grower then eh? I imagine it was much easier growing them in the sub tropics?
        I’ve just had to Google keyhold gardens because I’ve never heard of it but now I’m intrigued. I’ve been looking into the 5×5 gardening but not keyhole. Are they big in California?

      • Oh yes! Chillis are much easier to grow in warm environs. Though we do have many fabulous varieties from the southwest US.

        There was a chili in the {former British Colony} where I lived that could thrive for 7 years! I had 3 of those plants. I don’t remember what they were called, but they were stubby/pyramidal shaped. The bushes were up to 5′ tall and were thin/branching.

        I had excellent luck with Bird’s Eye Chilis. They grew exceptionally well and were very prolific producers. Plants were bushy, knee high and I was very happy with them! I’d like to try them out in California and use them to make homemade mango chutney.

        Regarding Keyhole Gardens, I’ve seen them promoted by your country’s DFID, our USAID, and Catholic Relief Services. If you have lots of rock on your property, they’re easy to make. Plus it really helps with drainage issues if you have poor soil. Personally, I’ve never seen a keyhole garden outside of southern Africa. But I just checked online… and here is a nice illustration from Texas: http://www.texascooppower.com/texas-stories/nature-outdoors/keyhole-gardening

        And not to blather on, but I’m not a huge fan of the 5×5. I think it sets non-gardeners up for failure. I think people take a more holistic approach to gardening.

      • Hey you know what I’ve actually managed to grow Birds Eye chillies really well over here. Grew them a few years ago but they did great so you should be fine with them as I’m sure it’s much sunnier in LA than it is here in Blighty.
        Its really the first time I’ve heard of keyhold gardening so I will explore this a bit more however even the worst soil over here can be improved radically with manure of some sort. I don’t think that, or drainage are particular issues in UK, but worth a look at. It will certainly become more and more of an issue as things start to heat up weather wise.
        It’s good to hear another side to the 5×5 so thank you for that.
        Do you like permaculture gardening? That is very holistic and a big thing over here. I’m working my way towards it although it’s a bit difficult on smaller garden scales.

      • I absolutely love permaculture. I have no formal training, but have had staff members and colleagues who have. I love Mollison’s books. Especially the giant hardcover Permaculture Manual.
        Permaculture is 100% scaleable. As much as I would love the space to implement a big system, I think small household gardens are more practical and we can still implement the practices of the Permies—without going big.

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