Hello, folks, how are we?
We’re currently in that funny window that is the twelve days of Christmas. As such, my heart and stomach are both full, and my brain at bit fuzzy.
Other than books, and writing, I’ve had another thought on my mind.
Chillies. The sowing, growing and cultivation thereof.
When seed sowing, I would traditionally start chillies from seeds around about Boxing Day. I am….two days over. I’ve yet to get fresh dirt under my fingernails, but you might. Thought I should share some ideas, and there’s a fair bit about chillies on the blog that you can look at to also support you.
So let me get this out of my system, before I forget or The Muse has a strop and walks off.
(The Muse has plans for the next for few days when it comes to writing, so we’re going to let him do his gardening thing whilst we have his attention. Every now and again, he goes into full bounce mode and I end up writing like a woman possessed. It’s an interesting experience.)
Chillies. What do you fancy?
There are what I call the standard ones, the cayennes, and there are super hots and habaneros. In my experience, the hotter, more potent that chillies are, the more difficult they are to grow. There are, therefore, things to keep in mind.
I’ve always sown chillies in pellets, in warm, moist compost. That is then put into heated propagator. This is the bottom heat that chilli seeds benefit from. However, what I have observed is that how long the seed case takes to crack will depend on the scoville rating of the chilli. That is to say, how hot they are. You can also, sow in a small pot, cover with a food bag and put some where hot, and light. Here in England, at this time of year, those two things are fairly thin on the grown. Hence using a heated prop. Don’t leave your compost outside. Bring in a bit, and keep it warm. You won’t need much. But that feeling of bare feet on cold kitchen tiles? If you don’t like it, what makes you think a seed will?
I have the impatience of a saint, when it comes germination. I wait, and I wait. But it annoys me, as its never quick enough. Alas, patience has to be germinated in the same way as a seedling. It takes time.
(Gardening has the most beautiful spiral curriculum; teaches you things other hobbies don’t. Gardening and mental health, for example, is a whole other blog post. Another time, maybe. The Muse is on one.)
Compost has to warm up, to reach the appropriate temperature. Also, don’t make the compost too damp. This will water log the seed, and it will rot.
Chilli seeds can either be as cheap as chips with a cayenne, or half a kidney with super hots, more specific. Being diligent, pays dividends. Or in our case, pays in chillies. Take a look at what interests you. I loved growing super hots and habaneros.
Tried -and failed-to grow the dorset naga. But why grow pointless stuff? Think about it. As much as I love experiments-I do, I love them, do them all the time; but think about the end, the equity at the end of it.
Grow the chilli that you are going to use, the chilli that is going to be meaningful and have the desired outcome.
Germination is going to take time, and not all your chilli seeds are going to germinate. Take the wins, learn from the losses. The hotter the chilli, the longer you are going to be pacing the floor.
Once you do have seedlings, remove them from a heated propagator (If you have used one) There is every danger now, that the seedlings are going to be thin, wiry and likely to keel over. They are ‘leggy; as they search for light, and are heliotropic. They are growing towards heat and light. This is both exhilarating and down right scary; you may end up with fewer seedlings still.
Proper chilli heads, would remove, possibly pot on-from pellet to pot-and place under heat lamps. I don’t do that, but I have coddled them. Placed a plastic food bag over the top of a pot, secured with an elastic band to do the window sill shuffle in the pursuit of the warmest place in the house.
Then, you wait. You watch. You observe the seedling do it’s thing. To send out a proper set of leaves, for the stem to thicken as it starts to anchor itself. Once that proper set of leaves appear, take away the cover. Be vigilant and mindful still. A passing breeze may fell the thing yet.
Hence the coddling.
Your chillies, if sown now, are going to be around for a while. Until at least May, and when the night temperature is 10 degrees or above. Between now and then, cultivation is the name of the game. A long growing period, if managed effectively will lead to a good fruiting period.
In May, the chances of frost-here in Birmingham, UK, disappear. I’ve taken my chances before and put chillies in the poly-when I had one-but they’ve lived mostly in a conservatory.
For now, sow the seeds. Keep your fingers crossed.
Oh, and step away from the tomatoes and aubergines for now.
Not yet, people. Not. Yet.