Louie Watts shares with us a whole bunch of tips on how to grow your own chilli plants, so you can pick your own fresh chillies straight out of your garden!
Here’s a handy guide to get you on your way to growing some chillies to add a real zing to your meals, sandwiches, sauces and drinks.
For start-up you will need:
- Chilli seeds
- A sunny place, such as a windowsill
- A tap
- A seed tray (or an ice cream box)
Place the chilli seeds about an inch down into some compost and cover over. Give them a good soak and then place them in the sunny warm place. If you have an airing cupboard, you can stick them in there to speed up the process, but the windowsill will do just fine for those looking at low maintenance. Whenever the soil seems dry, top it up with some water and check back daily to look for any green shoots (not mandatory, just exciting).
Within 14 days most varieties will germinate, and you are halfway to a solid chilli harvest. When the chillies are about 3cm in height, put them in their own pot. You don’t need to go out and buy plant pots, use yoghurt pots or similar plastic pots with holes poked in the bottom for drainage. As much as chilli’s love water, they don’t like soil that doesn’t drain very well
Your chilli’s will continue to make use of the sun and warmth, and make sure you water them every two days or when the soil is dry. If you fancy it, when they get bigger, put them in a larger pot. They will grow to the size of their current pot, and a bigger plant means more chillies. Try to water in a saucer under the pots to encourage strong root growth.
When the plant starts to produce flowers, you are nearing the start of your chilli harvest. If you can be bothered, water with a ‘mister’ from the pound shop that basically creates fine water mizzle around the plant. It encourages more fruit growth through humidity. When the flowers open gently rub your little finger around the inside of the petals to stimulate pollination. And then just sit back and wait for the fruits to poke through the flowers and grow.
A tomato based feed at this stage will improve yield and a stronger plant. Don’t do what I did and use the logic that the more of this you put in, the bigger the plant will grow – it doesn’t work that way. Follow the instructions on the feed for how much to give diluted in water.
Finally, when the chillies start to arrive, they will generally be green and turn orange/red. They will develop their heat the longer they mature on the plant, so leave them on and eat them fresh for the maximum kick.