Tag Archives: habanero

Smalls steps and chillies #gdnbloggers

I woke up today, feeling a listless. I didn’t have any plans for today, but didn’t feel like sitting around and watching box sets. (So far, I’ve watched most of ‘Friends’ backwards; it’s on right now, as a I write.) The plot was however, on  my mind. I’d found some more plastic, so this now had to be put down. Off I trundled, with Mama F in tow. She’s decided that I ‘need some support’ in getting things back on the road again. This is fine, Mama F is useful. However, ‘Here, let me do it, I’ll show you the idea’ as well as ‘you have to do this like that, so it is neat.’ She does have her own plot, yes; but her help is invaluable, even if it does mean I stand there and let things wash over me. Mama F means well.  At this point in the proceedings, I’m loathe to refuse help, or in this case, support,

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Here we have it. Two thirds of the top half-the bit christened Project Othello-is now covered. Rome wasn’t built in a day, the plot won’t be conquered in that space of time, either.  This is important. My mojo is still waking up, and feeling overwhelmed is likely to kibosh it. Doing what I want, when I can and how I want to, is going to help things get off the ground. I still have a portion of the half-plot to cover in the next few weeks. Then I need to tackle the rest of the plot. This is where I have all the raised beds. At the moment, this are filled with dead grass and this will need pulling up and away. I’m not sure how ready I will be, or the plot for that matter, by April when I should be growing things.

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I have  been thinking about sowing chilli seeds for weeks. I’ve found my propagator, some fresh chilli seeds and also some growing pellets. I haven’t sown seeds in a year, so this is a big deal for me. It feels right to sow seeds, to nurture them and have plants to look after. This was, I guess, the feeling of being in the zone; albeit treating it like a science experiment. A feeling, that started all of this gardening journey. I have sown cayenne and chocolate habaneros today. I started growing with cayennes; chocolate habaneros were also one of my early experiments.

I remember the researching that went into making sure that the seeds would germinate. Now, I am trying to use what I’ve learned to help these seeds germinate.

Cayennes are what most people think of when it comes to growing chillies. Long, elongated fruit that go from green to red. The smaller they are, the bigger the kick. They are part of a spectrum, the whole Capiscum family. There are hot one, sweet ones; some that are superhot, and should be handled with caution. In my experience, the hotter and more complex the chilli, the more heat is required to crack open the seedcase. The longer, it will take to germinate. I’m not the most patient when it comes to germinating seeds. I’ve seen cayennes come through relatively quick over 21 days. Others, such as habaneros and super-hot varieties have taken much longer.

I sow seeds in grow pellets that are housed in an electric propagator. This helps things be at a constant, stable, homeostatic temperature. In the past, I have used a plastic pot and a food bag. These acts like a mini-propagator, but the temperature regulation is very much hit and miss. Plus, the germination time is much longer.

As February starts, the temperature and light levels are still low. I don’t grow using grow-lights, but there any many chilli growers who swear by them. This does mean that any seedlings that I might end up with might become leggy and keel over. Once anything germinates, the seedlings will be fished out, kept somewhere warm that traps light but not enough to call the seedlings to shrivel up or fall over. It is a long time between now and july; that’s when chillies might crop. There are jalapenos that crop earlier. I shall be eagerly anticipating germination; it’s important to make sure that the pellets don’t dry out.

Garlic and Chillies

As we approach December, seed garlic has been in the ground for a while. Depending on what variety it is, is only starting to send up green shoots. There have some rather harsh frosts already, and these are no doubt having some form of effect on the cloves planted. There isn’t an awful lot else on the plot-well, Mama F’s- so garlic is certainly something to keep an eye on.

It has been a long time since I cultivated garlic, and Mama F was rather eager to make sure she had some growing. When I have planted garlic, I have always planted it in the October-November window. This would then lead to a crop in June, July and August. We have both soft and hard neck varieties, with Elephant garlic in there as well.

Sowing and growing your own garlic is relatively straight forward. Break up the bulb, to then separate out the cloves. The ground should be well drained, free-draining ideally. Heavy clay tends to be quite sticky and gloopy. Make a hole, using your finger or a dibber. Slot a clove in to cover up to the tip. Don’t leave the clove exposed, as you may have to then fight with the birds who eat it before you do. That is mostly it, you might want to feed the garlic in the Spring. Between now and then, green shoots should rise up and the bulb start to form. If you are a particularly windy site, you might find that green leaves start to burn but this is nothing major to worry about. Keep your garlic weed free, leave enough space to clear any wayward weeds.

Garlic varies in it’s flavour and it’s strength. Mama F requested strong flavoured garlic, it is a staple of the many dishes that we have in our kitchen. I do find that home grown garlic has one hell of kick compared to it’s supermarket equivalent and this does varies across the varieties. The size of cloves will also be different. I’m not sure how that impacts on flavour and vigour.  To be honest, I wouldn’t recommend planting your left over supermarket garlic. I’m not sure that would be useful.

Be aware though, there is a nasty critter called Allieum Leaf miner that rather likes all things garlicky,  onion and leeky.

With Garlic being mostly quite straight forward, Chillies are a different kettle of fish. There is both an art and a science to growing chillies. It is early, very early to start to sowing and growing chillies. Now, is the time to think about what you want to grow and how.

There is a whole armada of capsicum out there. From the superhot, to the super sweet bell peppers. Take your pick, choose your pepper. Your choice will determine how things kick off. In the past, I have sown chillies a day after Boxing day, in a heated Propogator. Chillies, depending on their variety, germinate at different times. Sow too early, you have leggy critters. Sow too late, and you might one or two chillies. Looking after them, you have to strike a balance. You could have beautifully leafy, luscious beauties and no chillies. Or you gave not so leafy, but fruitfully abundant plants that have you ready to  make chilli jam. I don’t think that I have ever grown one plant that is the same as the next. There is also the weather and making sure that plants are robust. Watering too often, plants might be okay with it, and so amble along. Arid and dry, plant has a panic and sets fruit to survive. Growing chillies is not boring, and all bets are off.

Chilli Duo: Aji limo and Hungarian Hot Wax

The Woolly Green Blog mentioned ten vegetables to sow this month. I happen to have sown the chilli pepper that was mentioned.

The Aji limo was from sea spring seeds, whilst the Hungarian Hot Wax is from seed parade.

Can’t remember the exact date these were sown, but it was early January. Of the seeds sown, these are probably the tallest, alongside the cayenne chilli pepper seedlings. I’ve not sown these successfully before, and I’m curious as to how these are going to develop. The Aji limo is a Habanero, with the Hungarian hot wax being allegedly suited to the cooler Blighty climate. The latter is also meant to be quite mild in comparison to the Aji Limo.  Both look very pretty as plants, looking at the information that is available about them.

They will all require potting up, in fact some of the cayennes are leaning a bit. However,  I am conscious of the fact that if the pot is too roomy,the plants do relax a little. They sit back and do nothing. The cayennes are starting to escape their pots, so these won’t be too far behind. It might be some time yet before they are potted into their final pots. I have deliberately not separated the seedlings out. This I feel contributes to the the growth, as the plants cramp together and work harder.  It is still very early in the growing season, so these are on the small side at the moment. Hopefully, these will continue to grow, despite the cold snap that is forecast.

hangin’ in for the ‘ot stuff

I have had many adventures to date when it comes to growing chilli peppers. This year was by far the most productive and therefore successful experience. Many different varieties were sown, from long yellow ones, round purple ones and small, stumpy ones with a hell of a kick. Now, I would like to step things up a little. Just a little.

And make a foray into super hot chillies. One of the reasons why was of the course the production this year of chilli jelly. A happy bonus from the crop. A learning point from this, was to wear gloves when chopping up jalapeños. That was painful. So with the agony, there has to be a balance of ecstasy.

In shuffling through the seedstasher, I was able to audit the chillies that I have. I had thought that there were dozens of seed packets. Not so, so I have gone a little seed crazy. Today, the post man and santa claus-one these exists-brought me envelopes of seeds. I have settled on the Dorset naga amongst others, and some habaneros. Now,  these things are only available from http://www.seaspringseeds.co.uk/. They know what they are talking about!

I have opted for a vast array of superhots, and must mention that there also quite a few habaneros from http://www.seedparade.co.uk/. So credit it to both of these lovely people.

Cast your eyes over this http://www.seaspringseeds.co.uk/index.php?page=shop.browse&category_id=38&vmcchk=1&option=com_virtuemart&Itemid=53

I have heard lots about this, and the dorset naga has something of a cult following. A search on the interweb yields lots of interesting stories of it being cultivated.

I’m all set, but I have my worries. I have experimented with germination. Having sown them in the heated prop, and also in an unheated prop or yoghurt pots on a warm window sill. The unheated ones have always come up quicker and then done well. Superhots are something of an experiment. 27 degrees C is required, and light. Ardent growers, fashion grow lamps. i am not that clever!

 

(As I write this, there is a proper gale blowing and blustering outside….hope the poly and wendy are all right….)

 

I will be happier, once they have germinated and look like small baby chilli plants. At least a couple of leaves, with a stalk. This seems a very delicate, and detailed process. And for some chilli heads, this is the norm!

And to think mama H told me not to sow too many seeds…..