The overall rating of a review is different from a simple average of all individual ratings.
Share this review on
Mmmmm chillis' I am definitely on the love 'em side of the fence. We get through a good number of chilli's in our house which we whack in a selction of home made Indian, Thai and Mexican cusine week after week. Nothing beats a meal with a good bit of fire if you are in the mood!
A good while back now I was staying with a friend down in London and she had two very cool, fully grown chilli plants on her kitchen window sill. That was it. I REALLY WANTED ONE. I spent a year looking for one here and there in garden centres and asking around but to no avail and I couldn't believe it! So eventually we decided that we may as well simply cut our losses and just grow our own!
And so we have!
Chilli plant seeds are available in all garden centres for next a nothing. I am talking under a pound for a little pack of them. Then you will need your pots and compost, all of which can be purchased inexpensively, a little tender loving care and a handful of patience and you're set to go!
***FACTS ABOUT THE CHILLI PLANT*** >>>Chillis come from the same family as tomatoes and potatoes. >>> There are around 25 different varieties of chilli plant and each has a slightly different heat. >>>The plants are native to the Americas although they will happily thrive in most climates. >>>In South America, chilli peppers have been grown since at least 2500 BC. >>> The name 'chilli pepper' comes from Christopher Columbus. During his travels around America in 1493, he mistook the firey taste of the chilli pepper for the pungent taste of black pepper corns and called them peppers. The name stuck and is still with us today. >>> The scientific latin name for the plant is Capsicum annuum >>>Today Indian is the largest producer of chilli's the world. >>> The world's most famous chilli is the Jalapeño, the stubby green variety from the city of Jalapa, on Mexico's gulf coast. >>> Chillis are good for you and it is said that they can help ward off a cold!
*** GROWING CHILLI PLANTS*** Plant the seeds in early Spring from the end of March-Mid April.
Seeds need to be sown in small pots with 2 to 3 seeds in each and thinly covered in compost. Germination take between 2-3 weeks if the plants are kept inside. As soon as the seedlings are large enough to handle, place them out into slightly larger individual pots discarding any weak plants. The plants will still rquire high temperatures and therefore should be kept indoors or in a greenhouse. Apparently after about 12 weeks they should be large enough keep outdoors, but we live in Newcastle and frankly I am not going to risk this Depending on the variety and the growing conditions, they will eventually grow to about 24 inches in total and they should start to yield chillis after 5-8 months depending on conditions.
>>> A couple of tips In order to encourage the plants to bush out rather than grow straight up, pinch out the growing tips when 4 to 6 inches tall. Therefore the buds will grow from the sides of the main stem rather than from the top of the plant. This is really important as they grow up very fast.
Because the plants grow up so fast we found that out had trouble standing up right. Therefore we bought some wooden kebab sticks from the supermarket and used them as growing plants, tying small sections of string around the plants stems and the sticks. This worked really well.
The two main pointers are: 1) Ensure that the plants are kept well watered but not saturated. 2) Ensure that the plants have alot of light.
***OUR CHILLI PLANTS*** We planted our chilli seeds back in March and from them grew ten chilli plants but we gave away six of them as presents as we didn't want to be eating curry until Christmas. They have been exceptionally easy to grow and currently they are between 30-40cm tall and each have about 20-30 big green leaves. There stems are just getting really woody and they can now stand up-right on their own just fine, without the support of sticks. The chilli plants started to flower in about mid July. The flowers are little and white with five petels each. Each plant produced about 10-20 flowers and they last for about 4 days before they wilt, turn brown and die. After the flowers the chilli's begin to grow! They grow downwards and gradually get longer as the days pass. They grow very fast and in the space of a week you can get a chilli that is about 20cm long. At the moment our plants are laiden with chillis which we pick gradually!!!! We are very impressed!
NB: The pictures below of the chilli plants are nothing like ours. Ours are much more tall and thin.
***HARVESTING THE PODS*** Ideally the pods will just be changing colour when they are plucked from the plant. Mature pods will feel firm and will look fairly glossy. If the pods still feel soft to the touch they are still immature. Picked chillis will continue to ripen after removal from the plant and may turn from green-red after being picked.
Picking stimulates the production of more flowers and thus eventually more chillis so it is better to remove them then to leave them to shivel up on the plant....
***BUGS and OTHER PROBLEMS*** Apparently this is rarely a problem as the plant is too hot for the bugs. However we had one plant which fell ill to evil little aphids which devoured it before I had chance to get to get something to kill them off! Aphid killing spary (dimethoate, derris or malathioncan) be purchased cheaply in garden centers. If you do grow chilli plants and you plant gets sick then check out the following link for further chilli plant growth trouble shooting. http://www.dpi.qld.gov.au/horticulture/5291.html
***SEEDS*** The seeds can easily be harvested from the pods, dried out and saved for another year to be grown again.
***USE OF THE CHILLI'S*** Chillis will keep for up to 2 weeks in the fridge or they can be dried and preserved for longer. If you want to dry the chillis you should lay them out in the sun for about two weeks or string them up through their stalks and hang out. Alternatively they can also be placed inside a airing cupboard or on top of a radiator.
Once dried, the seeds can be removed and the chillis can be crushed into a fine powder or flakes using a pestle and mortar.
Once you have successfully grown or dried your chilli's I recommend that you make a lovely thai fish curry with them! I have a couple of fabulous recipes if anyone is interested. Be careful though, because different chilli's have different amounts of fire so go carefully at first.
If you don't like your food too hot and spicy then you should scrape out the seeds from inside the pods. Contrary to popular opinion it is not actually the seeds that conatin the heat but a membrane on the inside of the pod. When you scrape out the seeds you remove most of the heat in addition.
As a rule red chillis are two or three times hotter than green ones, the smaller ones will also contain more heat then the bigger ones.
I would also recommend that you wear gloves while preparing the chillis or at the very least be careful about where you put your hands after chopping them. From personal experience I can tell you that chilli's sting the eyes nose and mouth unless you wash your hands PROPERLY after chopping them up. Be warned!