Fast growing Chillies

Planning the season

One of the most important considerations when growing Chillies is how much time you have to grow them. By that, I don’t mean how much time you have to care for your Chillies, but rather, the amount of time that is left in the Chilli growing season once seeds have been started.  After germination, the plants will need to mature, set fruit, and for the pods to ripen before harvest. With a short growing season (particularly in countries like the United Kingdom), this can be challenging

After all, you can spend as much time as you like looking after your Chillies, but if they have been planted too late, that is another issue. It can create complications.

Nothing is more disheartening in growing Chillies than spending months caring for plants and then not being able to make a harvest. Last year, that happened to me. I left it too late to start my seeds, and before I knew it, I was facing a ripening problem. My plants had produced plenty of chillies, only I hadn’t allowed enough time for the fruit to ripen. The season was drawing to a close  and I had a lot of unripe fruit on my hands. If I had been more careful with the varieties I planted, I wouldn’t have needed to face this problem. Planting faster growing varieties would have meant they would have matured more quickly, set fruit earlier, and I would have had ample time for them to ripen and  make a harvest.

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More on Identifying Chillies

More on Identifying Chillies

Identification through flowers

Have you ever bought seeds and then found that the Chilli, when fully grown, is not what you thought it would be? This has happened to me on several occasions now. It would seem that it is not that uncommon. I am not sure how it happens. Maybe some seed suppliers sometimes just get it wrong?

Just recently I had a case in point. In a previous post, I mentioned that I have placed a couple of my smaller Chilli plants under grow light lights to find out if this would help ripen the fruit. The plants were chosen for their size. They had to be small enough to fit under the lights. I chose a Barak Chilli and another that fitted the bill in terms of size. The latter falls into the category mentioned above. I need to try and identify it .

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White Wax Chilli

An Andean Aji

The White Wax (Aji crystal) Chilli falls under the C baccatum class of Chillies. When fresh these Chillies are known in Andean countries like Peru and Bolivia as Aji. When they are dried, they are called cusqueño. Capsicum baccatum probably originated in Peru or Bolivia, and have been consumed in this part of the world for thousands of years.

As with all Capsicum baccatum Chillies, White Wax Chillies have white flowers with green/ yellow markings on their inner petals. They grow to between 30 and 40 inches tall. The plant has a green stem and leaves. The fruit is pendant shaped and hangs downwards. The pods grow to between 3 and 4 inches long. They are about 1 inch thick when fully grown. The pods change from pale yellow to orange before becoming red. The flesh is firm

In line with other Chillies that fall under this species, White Wax Chillies have a fruity/citrus flavour. They are pickled when young or used in seafood with dishes like Ceviche.  They are also used in salsas and dried to make Chilli flakes and powders. Their Scoville heat rating is in the 12000 to 25000 SHU range.

A Chilli that falls under Capsicum baccatum that is similar to the White Wax is the  Aji Limone . Another Chilli that is thought to be closely related to the White Wax is the Italian Wax pepper . This Chilli is grown almost exclusively in Northern California, USA. It was probably originally a White Wax Chilli that became adapted to local growing conditions to become what it is today.

Image credit

Maja Dumat / CC BY 2.0 / via Flickr

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The use of Chillies in Peruvian cooking


How to identify Chilli plants

Identifying Chilli plants

How to identify Chilli plants

In my previous post I mentioned that I had already had my first Chilllies from a plant that I overwintered from last year.   Because this plant was still indoors when its first flowers appeared, I did some self-pollination (the chances were slim that the bees would do it indoors). I did the pollination  with a soft watercolour paint brush by transferring pollen from one flower to the others.  I was thrilled when a couple of weeks later I was rewarded with my first couple of Chillies of the season.

But I had a problem. I had no idea what type of Chilli this is. Out of pure curiosity , I decided that I wanted to try to identify it Read more

Chillies in Brazilian cooking

The use of Chillies in Brazilian cooking. Feijoada
The History Of Chillies in Brazil

It should be no surprise that Chillies are used in Brazilian cooking. The fact that Brazil contains 65 % of the Amazon basin is a clue to how close this country is to the Chilli.  It is widely accepted that many varieties of Chillies, while now found worldwide, are native to the Amazon basin *.  While neighbouring  Bolivia is thought to be one of the countries where Chillies originally started, Brazil would not have been far behind in being a place where they could first be found and consumed

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Dedo de moça

Viva Brazil

Essential in Brazilian cuisine, the Dedo de Moça is a Chilli with a wonderful flavour. This Chilli is used in both fresh and dried format. In its dried format, it is known as Calabresa pepper.  With a Scoville rating of between 10000 and 15000, it is by no means scorching.  Rather, it provides just the hint of heat that some chilli lovers prefer.

Link to Dedo de moça page
Dedo de moça

Its mild and complex smoky flavour imparts a great taste to Brazilian dishes like Moqueca de peixe com camarão  (Brazilian fish and prawn stew), Feijoada (Pork, bean and sausage stew) and Camarões e pimenta (prawns with chillies). The flavours of these foods, which all have a special place in Brazilian history, are outstanding.

The Dedo de Moça can reach a height of 1 meter in height and 60 cm in width. This makes it quite a big plant! The pods are similar in shape to the Lemon Drop chilli  (pointed conical Pendant). However, instead of maturing to a yellow colour, begin green and then cycle through yellow and orange to finally turn a deep red. Its pods are 6-8 cm in length.

Many Aji chillies, which both the Lemon drop and Dedo de moça are part of the Capsicum baccatum species. This species has its origin in Peru, where Chillies have been domestically cultivated for thousands of years. With such a long history, it is no wonder that the Dedo de Moça has developed into the gem that it is.

Bom apetite!

Overwintering for 2022

What I am overwintering

While we regard Chillies as annuals in the UK, they are perennials in their natural environments. In these environments, it rarely reaches freezing the way it does here during winter. As a result, most Chillies subjected to the freezing conditions during winter in the United Kingdom will die. Full stop. A few varieties are cold weather resistant (to a certain extent), but none can cope with frost.

So, if we want them (or a selected few at least) to survive wintry conditions, the plants need to be brought indoors or kept in a protected environment outdoors. This process is called overwintering.

This year, I am overwintering twelve plants. Two of these (yellow Scotch bonnets) are in their second overwintering. I overwintered them for the first time last year. The remaining plants are four Satans kisses, an Aji Crystal, an Apache, three Barak Chillies and two unknowns (somehow, I managed to lose their markers). In time, once they flower again, I will attempt to identify them

Usually, I cut plants back for overwintering. I also always keep them in the warmest room in our house, out of direct sunlight. Under most circumstances, this means placing the plants in an area next to our fireplace in our lounge.

While I keep them in the lounge as I usually do, I didn’t prune any of these plants this year, as I might have done in previous years. I took the view that except for the Aji Crystal, my Scotch bonnets, and one bigger Satan’s kiss, my smaller plants could be considered to be ornamentals. They are, on average, only about twelve inches tall. They were also exceptionally pretty Chillies and had aesthetic appeal. With this in mind, I resolved to treat the smaller plants as house plants. For the larger plants, I decided to wait for them to lose their leaves before I pruned them back.

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The Chillies I am growing in 2022

The Chilli types I am growing

Types of Chillies

I am going to town this year. I am growing over thirty-five types of Chillies. Some are overwintered plants, but I have also started thirty new varieties I have never grown before. The Chillies I am growing range from the mild Bellaforma (700 SHU) to the superhot Carolina reaper. The Carolina reaper has an average Scoville heat rating of 1.64 million SHU.

There are many other Scoville ratings for the other Chillies I am growing between these two extremes.  These range from medium to very hot.   The types of Chillies I am growing cover most domesticated Chilli species, including C annuum, C pubescens, C baccatum, C chinense and C frutescens.

I am growing more superhots this season than I usually do. It’s not that I am a fan of the superhots heat levels; it’s more because these Chillies are so interesting. They certainly seem more challenging to grow than the milder types of Chilllies, but that just adds to the fun. I also want to experiment more with using superhots in cooking. Growing these extra superhot varieties will make this possible

The Rocotos that I am growing deserve a special mention. It is the first time I have grown C pubescens, and I must say I am impressed. In the short time these Chillies have been growing, they have done exceptionally well. They have done far better than any of the other Chillies. I can only put this down to the cold weather resistance of C pubescens. My other Chillies are now between one and two inches tall after four months of growing. The Rocotos are that height (and even taller at about 3 to 4 inches, after only ten weeks). No wonder Rocotos are so popular among British Chilli growers. They are certainly a robust species.

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Another Chilli identified

Another one bites the dust

In a previous post, I discussed identifying the species of unknown Chillies by their flowers. After writing the post, I decided to try and identify the unknown Chilli that I have ripening under grow lights.  I believe I have succeeded in doing just that, but it was not that easy. I think this time I just got lucky. It certainly wasn’t through any great skill on my part. Read more