15 Aug 2016

Best seen from above (my chillies, I mean)

I'm such an noodlehead when it comes to gardening thoughts, being easily diverted from my path by the moment - a chance sighting of a spectacular plant or a conversation peppered with useful tips will send me veering off at a tangent.

As a result of this tendency to wiffle about, I tend to post about something and subsequently fail to return to the subject.  I was reminded of this as I heaved one of my chilli plants back onto the bench from the floor - it's put there when my son wants to create a space to sit in my plant stuffed balcony.

When I look out onto my tiny balcony, I see how beautifully the chilli plants are growing.  I last wrote about these chillies as tiny newly bought plants so it's time for an update.

Chilli 'Tangerine Dream'
~ Chilli 'Tangerine Dream' ~

Viewed from above, Tangerine Dream is a handsome beast of a plant. I am (usually) pants at growing chillies so, flushed with success, I'm sharing this update to show that anyone can have a go and achieve a beautiful plant, whether the fruit gets eaten or simply admired.

I'll confess that I have no idea how best to use these particular chillies (suggestions invited!) but they are undeniably fun and frivolous as chillies go.  I'm accustomed to the more generic red supermarket chillies for my cooking but was intrigued by the names and trying something a little unusual.

Chilli 'Fairy Lights'
~ Chilli 'Fairy Lights' ~

Tangerine Dream is a relatively mild vegetable chilli while Fairy Lights, being a spice chilli, is considerably hotter, although nowhere near the heat of superhot chillies.  When will they be ready to pick?  I have no idea!  I'm not sure that I want that day to come as these plants are a joy to behold at the moment.  Fairy Lights is currently gearing up to transform its fruit from purple through yellow into red - the colours during this change are sublime.

~ Chilli 'Thai Green Curry' ~

The chilli that I grew myself from seed this year is Thai Green Curry (also from Sea Spring Seeds); It's another mild vegetable chilli but has long slim pods.  I sowed the seeds just after I bought the other two plants so Thai Green is less developed than those. At the moment there's only one chilli pod but lots of flowers so I'm hoping for more.  This is not such a pretty plant but may well be more useful. It will be good to have a choice for once - surely the whole point of growing your own!



Growing notes: (What worked for me)
Buy small or sow early indoors (mid-February)
Pot on into 10 litre pot when plant is about 3 inches tall. Be careful not to handle the stem.
Use good multi purpose compost; mix in added fertilizer, eg chicken manure pellets
Water when top 2 inches of soil in the pot feels dry.
Give a boost by watering in additional plant food, eg, liquid seaweed.
Grow in a mild sheltered environment - next to a sunny house wall is ideal.

Both of the purchased chillies have been very sturdy healthy plants that have grown steadily.  I followed the advice given by Sea Spring Seeds at purchase and repotted the plants into their final 12 litre pots using good compost (Dalefoot peat free) with added chicken manure pellets.  They've been fed when I remember (but not more frequently than weekly) using either Tomorite, liquid seaweed or even orchid food added to the watering can; all promote flowering and fruiting. I watered when the soil felt dry at a couple of inches depth.  I didn't move them on from 12 litre pots because, with three chilli plants growing, that's all I have room for on the balcony.  Even so, the plants are a good chunky size.

18 comments:

  1. They're doing brilliantly, looking so very healthy. I didn't grow any this year, although I nearly bought a couple of plants for 50p at the garden centre the other day. I like the sound of the Thai Green ones you have. I think I shall have another go next year. CJ xx

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    1. 50p at the garden centre sounds like a bargain although it's quite late in the season to be nurturing chillies - unless of course you have a greenhouse and can keep them going overwinter. I've heard that's possible but the light levels inside my house prevent me from finding out! i'll be interested to know how you get on, CJ, if you have a go next year. Cxx

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  2. Looking good. I don't grow them. Flighty xx

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    1. Thanks, Flighty. No point in growing food if you don't cook with it, eh?

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  3. Wow they look fab! Mike grows the chilli plants here but I do insist on a couple of 'cooking chillies'! I'm pretty sue he has a Fairy light one amongst his collection. x

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    1. Thanks, Jo - love your enthusiasm!! Great that you have a chilli grower on hand, especially if he'll try different varieties - what do you do with the ones not used for cooking? Cxx

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  4. Sometimes plants on a balcony are great simply for adding interest and greenery. Those look very pretty but I've no suggestions for using them since I simply rely on a sprinkling of chilli flakes when cooking Asian food.

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    1. I do love to look out onto a lushly green balcony, Sue. The chillies would be better off in a greenhouse (ie out of the way!) but this is the best spot for them for now and I'll be able to snip some off when I need them for cooking. I used to use chilli flakes (so handy!) but am a convert to chopping up fresh chillies since having deliveries of food boxes last winter.

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  5. They all grows so healthy. The 'Tangerine Dream' is so cute.

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    1. Thanks, Endah, I think it's a very cheerful looking plant, like a little orange tree!

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  6. I'm glad you have been "converted" to a chilli-lover! There are so many variations on the theme to try...

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    1. I've always loved chillies, Mark, but have been unsuccessful in growing them in previous years. Unless I get a greenhouse, I'll probably remain dependent on buying small plants but will certainly be exploring different varieties, their heat, taste and culinary uses.

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  7. I love growing chillies too, they rarely fail. Goodness, fairy lights looks just like fairy lights, I wouldn't want to pick those chillies either!xxx

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    1. Wow, I'm impressed Dina! Rarely fail and you further north than me - what's your secret? I suspect that you're as good with plants as you are with animals! Cxx

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    2. Lol....I regularly fail with plants, I can't grow onions, ever, my carrots are dismal this year, the beetroot has failed and the brassicas are nibbled to death even netted! I struggle to kill the critters that munch on everything, I even squinted at the pretty lily beetle destroying my lilies....sighs...xxx

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    3. I don't often spot the lovely bright red lily beetles and if I do I just let them be. All part of the garden's ecology. (Although I'm not as tolerant of rosemary beetle!) I had new beetroot seed this year and it's done really well - sown in 20th June, harvesting now. I didn't get round to carrots this year but usually have success with them, especially if I sow spring onions around them to deter carrot fly!

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  8. They look wonderful, & so healthy! I'm always reluctant to pick vegetables that look so lovely. I'm getting a greenhouse in the autumn & looking forward to growing chillies next year.

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    1. Thanks, Jill. I confess I feel the same way, especially as these are rare successes for me! A greenhouse, how lovely! I'll look forward to reading which chillies you choose to grow.

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Caro x

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