Its Saturday the 10th of March. After a cold, dark and depressing winter the mornings are starting to get a little lighter (and the nights a little longer), the weather getting warmer and the daffodills are starting to open in my garden. The crisp early morning sun is beating down and the birds are singing my favourite Lilac tree. If you listen really carefully, you can even here the sound of chilli seeds been dropped into seed trays - yes its that time of year again, chile growing season. Wipeeeeeeeeee!!!!!!!!
Ive been a little slower of the mark that Julian, but patience is a virtue in the chilli growing game. Most people in the UK start plant seeds in late January/early Feburary and there is nothing wrong with that, particulary if you are using artifcal lighting or growing some of the slower germinating varieties like Habaneros
and Naga Morich
. Most people (like Julian) just can't wait.
However when natural light levels still pretty low and the risk of a sharp frost still present up until May or so (bad news for young tender plants), up here in Darlington I usually leave it a few more weeks. Anyway with milder autuums becoming more of the norm, even up here in the North of England, the chilli growing season extends right through to October/November so theres plenty of time to get those seeds in the soil if you havent done do already. In previous years, ive planted some of the shorter season varieties like Cayenne
as late as June and still had pods ready in time for my homemade chilli con carnes.New Chilli Grower?
If youve never grown chillis before don't despair. Despite their 'exotic' appearence, chilli peppers are actually from the same horticultural family as the humble tomato & potato and are an absolute doddle to grow. Luckily unlike the boring potato, they are thousands of highly ornamental and tasty varieties to grow. They come in all sorts of shapes and sizes
and they come in every colour imaginable, except bright blue! They grow quite happily in plant pots or window containers so you don't need an allotment. You don't even need a garden or a greenhouse or even soil! (see hydroponics). All chilli plants require is a warm spot, well drained soil, the occasional light sprinkling of fertiliser and a little loving care.
I grow most of my plants in containers as well as in the chilehouse (my cedar greenhouse), the out house, garden borders and anywhere else the missus will let me squezze a few in.
Before I waffle on anymore, if you fancy growing something different this year why not get yourself down to the garden centre, buy a bag of seed compost, a couple of cheap plant pots, some plant labels and some chilli seeds. Thompson & Morgans stock and excellent range of starter chilli peppers. If your really stuck for seeds, or need further advice www.thechileman.org will be more than happy to help you. If your new to growing chillis and are interested in finding out, more about how to grow them, click on these links for a beginners guide
and a more detailed starting seeds & germinatiion guide
This year Im trying my best to restrain myself (to keep in the missus good books) and have limited myself to 50 or so varieties. You can find my provisional growing list here
Chilli growing is such an addictive hobby and Ive made many new friends on the various forums
dedicated to chilli growing. Even if you plant only one or two varieties this year for a bit of fun, you'll get loads of advice and support on these forums and I'll guarantee you 'll want to grow many more varieties next year.
Labels: chilli peppers