Hot Peppers: Turn up the heat

Person Author: Ryan Lewis Calender February 10, 2012 Posted Tags: , , , , , , , Comment No Comments
Even though it’s cold outside things are beginning to hot up indoors as now is the perfect time of year to start sowing hot peppers. Hot peppers, or Chillies as they’re more commonly known, take quite some time to grow and ripen and by sowing in January/February this will mean that you are rewarded with a decent crop in July/August, allowing fruits to ripen in the Summer sun.  Chillies are massively popular right now and are incredibly easy to grow with a little know how.


To get started, all you will need is your hot pepper seeds, good quality seed compost, a seed tray, cell trays or plant pots, and a warm place to let them germinate.  Fill your container with compost and firm it lightly, this will ensure that when you sow your seed it will have good contact with the compost below.  If sowing in to cell trays, simply place one seed in to each individual cell.  If sowing in to pots or seed trays sow seeds evenly, ensuring they are space well to avoid damping off and poor growth later on.  After sowing cover your seeds with a fine layer of compost or vermiculite and water them lightly with a very fine rose.  If you have a heated propagator set it between 20-25 degrees Celsius and place your seeds in it to germinate.  Failing this cover your seeds with a plastic bag or cling film and place your tray or pot in the airing cupboard.


Germination can take between two and four weeks, with some peppers being quite slow.  At the first signs of growth move your seedlings to a warm place away from direct sunlight and water them from below.  An ideal spot would be on a slightly shaded windowsill above a radiator.  When your seedlings have grown and produced a second set of leaves you can pot them on in to larger individual pots.  For best results feed them with a tomato feed on a weekly basis and pot them on regularly as they get larger.  Stake your plants when they grow to around 20-30cm and pinch out the growing tips when they’ve produced their fifth set of leaves as this will ensure they bush out and produce more fruit.


Five of the best:


1. Jalapeno – This hot pepper is incredibly popular and is commonly used as an ingredient on pizzas, in sauces and Mexican cooking.  A high yielding plant and easy to grow.


2. Scotch Bonnet – The infamous pepper that packs a punch.  With a heat rating of 100,000-350,000 Scoville units this pepper really heats up Caribbean cooking.


3. Habanero – One for the Chilli lover.  Even hotter than the Scotch Bonnet this pepper is said to have a rich fruity/smoky flavour.


4. Bulgarian Carrot – Early fruiting and great for outdoor growing.  Excellent addition to sandwiches and Pizza.


5. Cayenne – A pepper with medium heat.  Usually grown to be dried and powdered it makes a great addition to Indian cookery and other sauces.

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