I am going large on the chillies this year, and have been more selective in my choices. Things are not going entirely how I planned…
I had a clear image in my head for how my chilli growing would go this year. I imagined regimented rows of robust seedlings, potted on in turn to become strong plants, flowers and then an abundance of chillies. It is entirely possible that will still come to pass, but blimey – it is a slow start!
Germination has been slow in most cases, with some only barely rousing themselves over 2 months down the line. I don’t have a separate propagator for the chillies so they are with everything else in the heated bench, probably below optimum germination temperature at 22°c bottom heat. The ideal range is 25-29°c. Those that have germinated have been slow to unfurl. Those big enough to be pricked out in to trays have remained stubbornly small. None is taller than 2 or 3cm, and none has any true leaves yet.
I wonder if pricking out into trays has restricted their growth, there is not much depth of compost in a tray. In hindsight, I’m sure I read somewhere that chillies grow to the size of the pot they are in. I have now moved them all on into individual 7cm pots to see if that helps.
Here is a rundown of the runners and riders.
I have another variety, Toro Rosso which has not yet germinated.
In each of these monthly updates I am featuring one of the varities I have chosen to grow. This time it is the turn of Hungarian Hot Wax.
As the name suggest, this heirloom variety was developed in Hungary. A medium strength chilli, it is usually harvested before maturity when yellow. These chillies are in the long and thin category, 10-15cm long. Great for stuffing or roasting, these chillies also pickle well, looking very colourful.
Well suited to our climate in the UK, these chillies are prolific fruiters (I hope), harvestable from around 70 days after potting on. Hot Wax can also be grown outside in the UK, although will fruit best in a greenhouse or conservatory. I’ve read that this variety has a tendency to fruit too early, stunting growth, in which case the first few fruits need picking off while the plant develops.
For some of the varieties I am growing the night-time temperature in the greenhouse may well have been too low, potentially holding them back. Although they have base heat, and some shelter in the form of a cover and fleece, the air temperature in the greenhouse has dropped below zero on a few occasions in the last month.
I’ve decided to move a couple of each type into the house, to go on a heated propagator on a sunny window cill. They can keep my insurance sowing of tomatoes company. It will be interesting to see how those develop compared to those in the greenhouse. Hopefully the cats won’t sit on them, walk on them, or attempt to use them as a litter tray…
In other chilli news, my attempt to over winter a sole chilli plant seems to have failed. It looks distinctly dead. On the plus side, when I consign it to the compost heap there will be some precious space freed up in the heated bench.
Slow progress so far then, but progress nonetheless.
I’ll be back in a month or so with another chilli update.