Category Archives: Experimental Chillies and be;;s

Chillies 2016: Emergent seedlings

The difference a heated propagator makes. It didn’t take long post transfer to have seedlings. Okay, so the jalapeños had started to crack already; but having the extra heat has certainly improved matters. Both rounds of chillies are sat in the heated propagator so all can be observed and germinators fished out.

Over the last two days, with one jalapeño being  welcomed into the world it was followed by three other pellets. They are very weak and baby like; very fragile looking. I have taken them out of the heated propagator now and positioned them on a window sill where it is relatively  warm and there is an acceptable amount of light. I will keep monitoring them as it is still rather cold and these could easily shrivel up and die because of that.

Not only have the jalapeños germinated, one single solitary devil’s rib has also cracked through its seed case to come alive. This is a new one for me, and I have high hopes for it. Then again, I have high hopes for all the chillies! These are the first come through, and I will be watching carefully to see what others start to germinate. And trust me, I might be watching them patiently; but I do get a bursts of commentary from Mum the minute anything green exists the seed case and unfurls itself from the white pocket.

Chillies 20016 in the heated prop

The window sills are cold; which is not unusual at this time of year. However this does make them a little less conducive for chilli germination. In the past, this method hasn’t really been an issue. It has in fact been more successful than germinating seeds using a heated propogator. However, I have relented; least of all because I am impatient.

 

The youtube video is also available here.

 

I have also taken the opportunity to sow the second batch of seeds. These are prairie fire, sparkler and the much anticipated purple haze. Last year, I bought a plant of purple haze and was rather happy with it. The fruit are a lovely shade of purple which ripen to a bright red. There are quite a number of pellets in the heated prop; simply because there is no guarantee that they will all germinate. Fingers crossed though.

 

And another thing.

 

wahaccaseeds

I was handed these by my sister. As if I didn’t have enough chillies to play with. A very kind thought nonetheless, and I somewhat intrigued. There is still room in the heated prop to try them. So in theory I could try them as an experiment. Inside the matchstick book, are indeed little matches: attached to which are seeds. No idea what they are exactly, I don’t know what a Wahaca is. Other than them being Mexican, I don’t have an awful lot more to go on.

Chillies 2016: Phase one

The festivities are over, the vast majority of people are going back to work. I have had an extra week, and some of it has been spent reflecting upon the start of the new growing season. In all honesty, I have been feeling a little behind and the allotment mojo has taken something of a nose dive. I usually have chillies sown after Boxing day, and this wasn’t the case.

Given last years rather disappointing crop, I am reviewing the seeds that I will  be sowing. This has resulted in more than one sowing of seeds. Today I have found some jiffy pellets, and sown the first batch of seeds. Cayennes are the notable absentee from the list, but these will hopefully be sown in the second phase.

If you can’t access the video above the you tube video cane be view here.

 

In the first phase we have:

  • Orange habanero
  • Devils rib
  • Trinity
  • Coffee bean
  • Scotch bonnet yellow
  • Hot patio Sizzle
  • Hungarian Hot Wax
  • Jalapeño

Some of these have been sown before, others are new experiments. Chillies are not entirely easy to grow. I have found that the hotter the chilli, the lower the chance of germination. Also, serious chilli heads will also use heat and light lamps to germinate. I don’t tend to use the heated propagator any more, as the seedlings that I ended up with were rather spindly and inclined to fall over. I have had greater levels of success with a cold propagator being placed upon a warm window sill.

Seeds were sown into moistened jiffy pellets which were sat in a gravel tray. I used warmish water, rather than cold; as this just make the for cold damp conditions that are not the best of seeds that are hard to crack open anyway. The gravel trays were then placed into a large foodbag, I would have done the same with pots, and then a transparent lid was placed firmly on top.

Hopefully there will be another sowing in a few weeks, and purple haze will feature.

2015; Bollywood Gardener and beyond

As a year of two halves, 2015 has been somewhat interesting but different. The first half of the year involved having the best of intentions. Seeds were sown, I had half a plan as to what I wanted to achieve. No different to what I might have done in previous years, I was going to use all my knowledge and experience to make  things better, bigger and more efficient. Then came July, 2015 became incredibly busy and in the tail end; I am only just recovering from a very hectic six months.

Let’s take the first six months, where by the growing season is starting. Plans are afoot, the world is full of promise. We are hoping to have a good year.

Tomatoes, chillies and aubergine were the focus of the first three months. Makings sure that the seeds were sown, that these germinated and the plants pampered. Pampered, as so many valuable lessons had been learned as to how they might be successful. It was touch and go for a while in the early stages. Half baked chillies and tomatoes can be a very scaring and intimidating experience, when you let them be in a hot room or poly tunnel. There were even aphids and bugs that needed to be dealt with.

In July, I hosted a workshop during the annual conference of the Association of teachers of Psychology. I spoke about horticulture and mental health, the benefits that teachers might gain for both themselves and their students. I had asked my Psychology colleagues to sow sunflowers in the Spring and also encouraged conference delegates to do the same in giving them seeds that were kindly donated by the information point. It was also at this point, that I finished the Level 3 Certificate in Counselling studies.

Then came the summer, with lots and lots of growing!

No one year will be the same as the preceding or following. Yet this year felt different. There was just something palpably different that made growing more of a challenge ad something beyond me being busy with work and studies. Last year, I remember being ankle deep in tomatoes, green ones; but there were lots of them. This year,I had a foliage, and not a lot of fruits. Positioned in the poly tunnel, the crop was meant to do well. Even the chillies appeared to have struggled this year. Whilst the poly tunnel seemed to have been filled with triffids, there was a muted level of success. Aubergines did themselves no favours once again. I must say every year that I will not sow them. I finally have proof that I might be better off without them. Lovely plants, the occasional flower; but diddly squat fruit even if the poly tunnel was a bit damp and sweaty.

And note the gadget! The apple one. Having acquired all of those apples from a plot neighbour (they were not scrumped, I had consent!) that was an investment and a half. Saved me hours. The home brew kit is still waiting in the wings. untested this year, maybe it will be used in the growing seasons to come. There were a number of pickles and preserves. The preserving pan was rather busy this year, even though the produce was a bit hit and miss.

With the plot ticking along, and the blog growing. Something else also happened. I had been lucky enough to write guest blog posts for WRG, via the fabulous Michael Perry. This was and still is one of the most valuable writing experiences that I have ever had. This actually triggered something more complex and more challenging than I first realised. Over the summer, the winner of the Big Allotment Challenge Rob Smith had written a short book.  One of my fellow counselling students, L.A.Cotton, had also burst onto the young adult contemporary genre (She’s epic, tell her I sent you) with phenomenal success.

These three things combined spurred me to be courageous and write something myself. June and July were turning points, and I remembered sending a message to both my sisters; saying that I wanted to write an ebook, and I would try and get it out by Christmas. That was it, I was going to do it.

Having written as mentioned previously, the guest blogs for WRG , one of them was about the Indian Inspiration on the plot. I think Michael Perry used the words ‘Bollywood Gardener’ or something similar, and I adopted the hashtag! This inadvertently became the start of the book. I wrote in a way I can only describe as feverish. I have the same frame of mind when writing the blogs, to be honest; and it’s part of the blog life. The book however was different in that this was thousands of words and trying to bring the assorted elements of the blog together. There was a lot of things that I wanted to include in my budget of 25, 000 words. I had a notebook-my blog book actually, the one that I take to the plot-and a pen. Scribbling ensued, and it’s hard to read my writing anyway. So when it’s all in very hurried, that doesn’t help with typing.

What I ended up with was ‘Playing with Plant Pots: Tales from the allotment’. Plus it was well before Christmas!

 

With a bright yellow front cover, you cannot miss it!

I am going to be naturally very biased, and say that I like my book. However, that is genuine. I like to share it, because I do honestly believe in my book. You might, for example, have writers out there, who will promote their books; but not necessarily believe in their own work. You know if you don’t blow your own trumpet, it’s difficult to get others to do the same.

Standing in the kitchen, leafing through my own book was rather surreal. My name was on a book, that I had crafted. Then there was the few hours that it was at number one. A fellow independent writer informed me of that happening, and that made my day, I tell you! I am determined to get back to the slot.

Then there was the swag. The merchandise. Again, this sounds likes trumpeting! Petal, the horticultural Obbit, has always been the online avatar of the blog. A registered trademark, she’s face (other than mine!) of the blog and social media presence.

 

As you will have read, this year may have been different to others; but it has not been quiet. So much has gone one, it’s no wonder that the tail end of the year is slower and more reflective. If it had all been plain sailing, there would have been very little learned, very little documented in the blog, and very little left to reflect upon.

For now, my only plan is try and sow chillies at some point, and plant my fruit trees when they arrive. I haven’t really thought about anyhing beyond that.

I thank you, for having accompanied me on the 2015 journey; and look forward to the one starting in the new year.

Happy new year!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tail end of 2015

As 2015 draws to a close, I guess it’s time to take stock of how the year is ending. I will save the proper review of the year for another post; but having visited yesterday; it struck me just how different the plot looks now compared to the height of summer.

Above, we have a view of the plot from yesterday. Something of a dreary and really very drab landscape. I did a spot of pottering yesterday, as there were a few things that needed tidying. Sadly, I had to take up two threes. The rochester peach and the sylvia cherry trees have both died a death. In the case of the peach tree, it had not even formed a root system, and didn’t take much digging out. I have yet to consider my victoria plum tree. Looking in a rather sad state, this is a tree that has rather confused me. The tree flowered, having formed foliage in the spring. There was lovely blossom. However, as time went on; the foliage turned copper; much like it was all aflame and started to die off. The one or two fruit on the tree didn’t last very long either. My plan was to dig it up as it is most likely diseased; I just didn’t get that far yesterday. Glad tidings however, a belated santa claus session means that I will be replacing both the peach and cherry tree, and looking at another Victoria Plum.

Another cause for much sadness were the full season raspberries. These have had little or no success this year. The raspberries that I did manage to harvest were actually from slightly confused autumn canes. The full season canes are going to be replaced, thankfully the supplier was very understanding. This will happen next year now, as I have pulled up the cane that again were very twiggy and no bigger than they had been when they were first planted. I am not going to blame my clay soil as this doesn’t appear to bother the other things on the plot.

You can see between the two galleries the difference that a few months can make. Only yesterday did I finally take down the bean frames and tidy up the now very much ex-sunflowers. I say tidy up the sunflowers, as I haven’t taken them down. I have left them in situ, least of all because they will naturally bio-degrade. They are probably still helping support the wildlife, if not being eaten; the now very skeletal flowers are probably playing host and home to critters. Tidying up was necessary, as it was all looking a bit post-apocalyptic and very mad max and the thunderdome.

Having a space between Christmas and New Years is good opportunity to reflect and sort through your seed stash. In the past, just after Boxing day; I would sow my chillies. I haven’t got that far yet! I have however, sorted the seeds from one seed box to the work in progress seedbox. Can’t remember what I did with my Cayenne seeds- I bought a fresh packet!-but I do have something of  a vast and diverse range anyway. Have yet to get any compost though, I was going positively twitchy at not having any; so will remedy that in the coming week or so. In my experience, I have used an electric propagator and also used an unheated windowsill one. I think I am now leaning towards the latter, not just because of how mild it is. That method has produced healthier, more robust seedlings in the past and been effective for cultivation.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Plot Productivity Part three-Early August

We are well into squash season, so have had three marrows in ten days. This morning, ma refused point blank to cook another one. I don’t blame her. There is only so much curried marrow you can eat or freeze. Courgettes are also making a surge. There are yellow ones starting to get bigger.

The climbing french beans have kicked in, and the scarlet emperor runner beans are starting to form pods. Ma missed them whilst she was digging, so I have harvested quite a handful. The chillies are ticking over, but the super special are the superhots. What you see are orange habaneros, I also have pumpkin habaneros fruiting. Unripe chillies and things are being sent to the window sill for ripening.

Chilli report: July 2015

poly

The poly tunnel is alive. It truly is standing room only in there. I have had to stake the tomatos and also defoliate as well. This allows some more energy to go to the fruit-according to my mum-but also allows the plants to be better ventilated.

I was starting to wonder about the super hot chillies. As to whether once again I had missed something in their growing conditions. To be entirely honest, I was chiding myself about not watering them that much. I have harvested a good clutch of hungarian hot wax; and I am hoping that these will go yellow with being on window sill. The would be red cayennes are by far this year the longest I have ever grown! This may be down to letting them stay on the plant for longer than I have in the past.

But! Remember the habaneros? Well, I should have paid more attention, and tomorrow I will double check. There is for the moment, one single solitary orange habanero. I will check if I have a chocolate one. In addition there are the tiniest of pumpkin chillies. I would have had had longer look; only as I was defoliating I heard “Puunnnaaaam! Come home now! You been here a while” My mother was on the plot, and she had come to fetch me back home. In punjabi, and at the top of her voice.

Pickles, peppers and petals

Had to do an experiment today. THE experiment, the one that was the only reason for growing gooseberries on the plot. The experiment, that is gooseberry pickle. Amlar Achar, as it is know. Now, whilst I have a bollywood ma and pops, that doesn’t mean I know anything about Indian food and preserving. Ordinarily, I grow the produce, Ma then makes it all Indian. Today, I made the produce Indian. Searched a relatively easy to follow recipe, raided her pantry. Mustard oil, onion seeds, even the asafoteda, and that stuff honks half way to hell; it is that potent.

I have never made an indian pickle. I once asked my granny-Mum’s mum- and she gave me a recipe, taught me how to do it, but this was the first time flying solo.

The whole thing was concocted. I have learned to do chutney, and practice for that is straight forward.

I walked away from the saucepan, in something of a strop. I didn’t recognise the substance, it didn’t look like a pickle to me. But I wasn’t looking at it from the Indian perspective.

Still made Dad taste a teaspoon. And Mum tasted it with her dinner.

They are both okay. The Jar is still there.

Having left the jar, and trying to get rid of the sulk; I went to water the plot. It’s a bit hot outside, so  bit necessary. Then there is the poly tunnel; the contents need regular watering. Spotted, was a bright red cayenne. I have struggled to get chillies red in the poly. This is only the second time that this has happened. There are also the tiniest of yellow courgettes, which is nice to see.

The next nice part, was the roses.

Slap bang in the middle, is a rose called Blue moon.

Yes, it’s pink.

The journey of June: fruitful

Hello, everyone, happy Sunday; I do hope that you have had a nice weekend.

Firstly, an apology. For not having updated properly, the plot is kicking off now and that means watering and harvesting. I have made two batches of ice cream in the last two weeks, with the strawberries from the plot. I have even harvested some tonight. The ice cream was fabulous, the ice cream maker, a good investment and highly recommended. I have been harvesting strawberries daily, and I don’t particularly have a preference for them.

As you can see from the gallery, the plot is coming into it’s own. There is nothing to report yet, as far as squashes and things go. They are just forming large leaves as of yet. In the poly though, the tomatoes are getting leafier, taller, and sending out yellow flowers. I have had to stake them into sentry like positions to prevent them all falling over.

cream sausage tomatos
cream sausage tomatos

The stars for the moment, are the chillies.

image

These are currently sat on a warm window sill. There are also a few more cayennes on the plant. Whilst walking through the poly tunnel with the watering can, I saw the rather chunky, lime green form of the hungarian hot wax. There are about five fruit, I shall leave them there for now.

Soft fruit is coming quick, with the strawberries especially. I have been watching the raspberries carefully. Especially as half canes don’t look to be doing an awful lot. These were canes planted last autumn, all thirty of them in the full season collection. There were an additional 10 yellow ones, The raspberries you see above, all three of them are the harvest of tonight. That yellow one, didn’t make it home, I ate it on the spot.

It was delicious. Get some. These are a variety called Fall Gold.I suspect they are a bit confused, as they are meant to be autumn ones.

I will continue to monitor the growth of the raspberries, to see if any more of them come to life. Also last year, I sank gooseberries and currants. The gooseberries have already yielded one small harvest, the next one, is most likely to be a pickle of some kind. The currants, are still babies, so there is not an awful lot expected.

But they do taste good. I swear, that the berries that I have collected were ready to burst. Beautifully red, they have given the strawberries a good run for their colour money. Not as tart as I would have expected, but a little full of seeds.

I had one black currant berry. May be next year, we can cordial or cassis. Yet to see if I have any white currants, if I can work out whether or not they are ripe. The two blueberry bushes are also laden with fruit, and again, ripeness check needed.

Last but not least, William Shakespeare 2000

william shakespeare 2000
william shakespeare 2000

Big, beautiful blooms, this rose bush sits in the middle of the plot. A sprawling mess, we like this sprawling mess, with green foliage and red blooms that burst in a matter of days in the shape of a fuzzy pom pom. This is the rose that I have been waiting for, as the other roses heralded the start of summer.