Chilli Focus

How I use Chilli Focus

Chilli Focus is a liquid fertilizer I use to fertilise my Chillies at various stages in their development. I first use it when my seedlings have developed their true leaves. At this point, I pot on the seedlings into two-inch pots. I use my own potting mixture for potting on. The dosage I use for the seedlings at this stage in their development is 2.5 millilitres per litre of water. This is all the seedlings need, as they are still quite small. In addition to the nutrients Chilli Focus provides, the seedling also absorbs nutrients from the potting mixture.

I continue feeding the plants at this dosage until they need to be potted on again. This is when they have reached the same size as their pot. The same size as pot rule then applies, and I pot them into the next size up container

It is at this point that I up  the dosage of Chilli Focus to 5 ml per litre of water.  I water the seedlings with this strength solution every second watering.  This continues until the seeds have been transplanted into one lite container and ready to be hardened off.

After hardening off, I switch other fertilizers, as I believe they do a better job. The manufacturers claim you can use Chilli Focus right through the season without switching. They recommend changing the dosage to ten millilitres of Chilli Focus at the first sign of buds. They claim this dosage will be enough fertilisation to support the plant through blooming and fruiting

I am not saying this is wrong. However, when I compare the NPK of the fertilizer I switch to at this stage, there really is no comparison. At 10 millilitres per litre, Chilli focus has an NPK of roughly 5.5: 2: 8.8. The fertilizer I use has an NPK of 15 -15 -30. In my opinion, the higher phosphorus and potash content make all the different in encouraging blooming and fruit set

Final thoughts

I cannot recommend Chilli Focus highly enough for use until hardening off. It does a good job. So much so, I have written a page about it without any invitation from the manufacturers. The page was written of my own volition as a recommendation to help other Chilli growers. I believe it definitely improves Chilli growing.  Unless something else comes to my attention, Chilli Focus will be my standard for the purpose mentioned


How to save Chilli seeds

Cost effective

Chillies, with their vibrant and diverse array of flavours ranging from the mild sweetness of bell peppers to the scorching intensity of Habaneros, have captivated and tantalized the world’s culinary senses for centuries. Whether you’re a seasoned horticulturist with years of experience or just embarking on the fascinating journey of pepper cultivation, the act of saving chilli seeds emerges as a profoundly eco-friendly and remarkably cost-effective method. It guarantees a steadfast and deeply satisfying harvest of your cherished pepper varieties with each passing growing season.

The practice of saving chilli seeds extends beyond mere horticultural pragmatism. It embodies sustainability at its core, cultivating a legacy that transcends generations. Not only is it a gratifying endeavour, but it also serves as a vital conduit for preserving the distinct and cherished characteristics of your beloved Chilli varieties  Picture, for a moment, the delightful jalapeño that elevated your salsa to perfection or the heirloom chilli whose cultural significance resonated with you. By carefully and thoughtfully saving their seeds, you embark on a culinary journey that ensures the replication of those exceptional flavours, intoxicating aromas, and distinctive heat levels in your future harvests. Beyond the gastronomic realm, this act empowers you to actively participate in the preservation and perpetuation of heirloom and open-pollinated chilli varieties, safeguarding their survival and cultural heritage, a vital link between the past and the future.

In this extensive and informative guide, we are committed to immersing ourselves even further into the intricate art of saving chilli seeds, offering an abundance of detailed insights and invaluable tips that will empower you to cultivate exceptional Chill plants year after year. So, without further ado, let’s grab our secateurs, step into the garden, and commence the thrilling process of hand-picking your favourite chillies Read more

Chilli Seedlings not growing. Stunted growth.

Distorted growth

I have a batch of chilli seedlings that are not thriving as well as the others I planted at the same time. They are small and exhibit stunted growth, showing signs of various nutrient deficiencies. These deficiencies include yellowing at the leaf edges (leaf margin chlorosis) and browning at the tips of the leaves. To address this issue, I have decided to conduct an experiment using a multi-pronged approach.

Considering that the stunted growth could be attributed to various factors such as seed viability, watering, lighting, pests (like aphids), and the mentioned nutrient deficiencies, I will systematically tackle each potential obstacle to promote healthier growth in these plants.

While there is not a lot I can do if the initial problem was seed viability I will do everything I can to see if it is possible to address the other potential causes

Firstly, I will ensure that the plants are free of aphids. I plan to wash them thoroughly and apply an aphid treatment to keep them aphid-free for a while.

Next, I will change the potting soil, making sure the pH falls between 5 and 6, as Chilli plants prefer slightly acidic soil. Alongside this, I will treat the seedlings’ roots with an inoculant of mycorrhizal fungi, which can enhance nutrient uptake by establishing a beneficial relationship with the plant roots. In this way, I hope that the plants will rapidly absorb the nutrients I will be feeding them and go on to recover and become healthy plants

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Topping Chillies. Improving growth

Benefits of topping

Towards the end of  May in the UK your Chilli plants should be between 8 and ten inches tall. If you want them to grow big and produce lots of Chillies, there’s a helpful technique called “topping.” It involves cutting off the main growing tip of the plant to encourage more side branches and more Chillies.

Topping means cutting off the very top of your Chilli plant. By doing this, you’re telling the plant to focus its energy on growing more branches and producing more Chillies. It helps make the plant bushier and more productive as upward growth is curtailed in favour of growth outwards.

In addition to the above, you may want to trim away some of the bigger leaves that prevent sunlight from reaching the inner leaves of your Chilli plant. This will stimulate growth and make the plant even more bushy.  It is also advisable when doing this to cut away any unhealthy-looking leaves and thus place your plant in a position for steady and healthy growth.

Having performed topping all you need to do  is continue with routine care, including proper watering, fertilization, and pest management and you are virtually guaranteed of a bumper crop

In this blog post, we’ll explain why topping is beneficial when to do it, and give you a step-by-step guide to try it yourself. It is essential that if you are going to perform topping off that you don’t leave it too late.  That may even reduce your harvest!   So let’s roll up our sleeves, get out the secateurs,  put on our gardening gloves and let’s start topping Chillies.

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Feeding Chilli plants

A well rounded program

When growing Chillies from seed to fruit in one season, it’s important to establish a well-rounded fertilisation program to provide the necessary nutrients for healthy plant growth and fruit production.

In the initial stage, when planting chilli seeds, no additional fertilization is required. The seeds contain sufficient nutrients for successful germination. Plant them in seed starting pellets, such as coco coir or a fertilizer-free seed starting potting mix.

Sow your Chilli  the seeds into your seed starting medium and add water. that is all that is required.Once the seedlings have germinated and developed their first true leaves (dicotyledons), they may require additional nutrients (albeit at very low levels). However, it is important to note that the seedlings can still sustain themselves from the stored nutrition in the seed endosperm. Fertilisation during this stage is not necessary, but if desired, use a diluted fertilizer solution at reduced concentrations to provide a gentle nutrient boost.

If you decide to go this route use a liquid fertiliser with an extremely low NPK.  It should be in the region of 1-1-2.  Fertilisers like this can be bought ready mixed or made by diluting products like Chilli Focus .   Another alternative is to dilute liquid tomato feed.

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Grow better Chillies. Top tips

It starts at the beginning

To  ensure optimal growth and a bountiful harvest , it is crucial to establish a solid foundation and follow proper cultivation practices right from the beginning. By providing your chilli plants with the ideal conditions and implementing effective strategies, you can maximize their growth rate and enhance their productivity. This comprehensive guide in a series of posts will walk you through the essential steps necessary to achieve accelerated growth and optimize the potential of your Chilli plants.

Embarking on your chilli growing journey requires a strong start, and it all begins with selecting the highest quality seeds available. Investing in seeds from reputable companies guarantees that you are working with healthy and viable genetic material. While these seeds may come at a slightly higher cost, it is a worthwhile investment when considering the time, effort, and resources you will dedicate to cultivating your Chilli plants.

The germination stage is a critical milestone where the dormant seeds awaken and sprout into vibrant seedlings. Maintaining the appropriate germination temperature is vital for successful sprouting. Chilli seeds tend to germinate best within a temperature range of 26-32°C (79-90°F), with an optimal temperature of around 28°C (82°F). Creating a warm environment, such as using a seedling heat mat or placing the seeds in a consistently warm location, promotes faster and more uniform germination, setting a strong foundation for accelerated growth.

Once your Chilli seeds have successfully germinated, providing immediate access to light is essential. Adequate light exposure prevents the seedlings from becoming weak and leggy. Whether you opt for dedicated grow lights designed for optimal plant growth or position the seedlings near a sunny window, ensuring they receive sufficient light energy is crucial for their healthy development

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The best Chillies to grow in the UK

Star performers

Based on my experience this Chilli growing season, I believe I have found some of the best Chillies to grow in the UK. I say this because as at this point in the season, I have some seedlings that are doing exceptionally well. Even though they were planted at roughly the same time as the other varieties, they are just streets ahead.

These Chillies – my Cherry Chilli and a Rocoto are so far ahead of the others; they are already in one-litre pots. My other top performers – another Cherry Chilli, three other Rocotos and three Madame Jeanettes , are still in two and three-inch pots. I expect to pot these seedlings on in the not-too-distant future.

My mega star performers, the Cherry Chilli and the tallest Rocoto, have already been potted on twice. Firstly, they were potted on into three-inch containers, after reaching two inches in height. Once they were three inches tall, they were transplanted into one-litre pots. They will now remain in these pots until they get hardened off. After that, they will be replotted into their final containers, where they will spend the rest of the season

Once seedlings are potted into one-litre pots, I start feeding them with a fertiliser higher in nitrogen. Before being potted- on into these larger containers, they would have been fed with Chilli Focus at a dilution of 2.5ml per litre of water. This is all the fertiliser they would have needed, as up to then, they would have absorbed nutrition from the potting soil in their containers.

However, now that these plants are in one-litre pots, it is essential that they get more fertilisation. So I feed them with a liquid fertiliser with an NPK of 7: 1.3: 4.2. It is a fertiliser with a high nitrogen content. I specifically use it to develop these plants’ foliage and general health until they get hardened off. After that, fertilisation will be changed again to achieve other objectives, like improved flower setting  and fruiting.

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Fertilising Chillies

When is fertilising Chillies first required?

The Chilli seeds I have recently started don’t need any fertilising. They were planted about a week ago and still need to germinate. So, will they need fertilisation after they sprout? The answer is a resounding no. Seedlings don’t need any fertilization until they have developed their first set of true leaves.

It is precisely for this reason that when you choose a seed starting mix, it should have as low an NPK as possible. I use my own seed starting mix to start seeds. It consists of seed-starting compost with an NPK of 3.4-1-1.5 and worm castings with an NPK of 1: 0: 0. This is pretty low, but even at these levels, the mix could be higher than it needs to be. The seedlings just don’t need any fertilising at all. They can feed themselves through nutrition stored in the endosperm of the seed. This nutrition will be enough until the seedling decides it requires further nourishment.

When this happens, the seedling will develop its first set of true leaves to begin photosynthesis. It will also expand its root system to extract nutrients from its growing medium. This is precisely when additional fertilisation needs to be added. Not too much though. Over-fertilising Chilles can be bad for seedlings. Caution needs to be exercised

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Top tips for growing Chillies

Great tips for growing Chillies

Growing Chillies is a great hobby, but it is not without its challenges. Just when you think you have everything nailed, something else pops up. If it’s not that you have overwatered your Chillies. It’s that you have let them dry out. If it’s not problems with pests, it’s yellowing of leaves or ripening complications, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera. It’s what makes it fun.

I have been growing Chillies for about eight years now. While I am no expert by any sense of the imagination, I have learned quite a bit about growing them. Much of my knowledge has been gained by doing research, but I have also developed my growing skills through simply growing Chillies. I figure things out as they happen. It’s probably been the best way to learn

In my years of growing Chillies, certain things stand out repeatedly. These are the fundamentals of growing these plants. Get them wrong, and you will not be successful. For example, the fact that Chillies don’t like too much water is something that is virtually written in stone. Another fundamental principle is that Chillies, as a general rule, grow better in warm weather. These and other considerations go to the very core of growing Chillies successfully

I want to share some of my top tips for growing Chillies in this post. It will give advice on what precautions to take, provide solutions, and recommend how to avoid some of the most common problems I have encountered in growing Chillies

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Using worm castings for Chillies

Seed starting with worm castings

In my latest series of posts on growing Chillies, I took an in-depth look into the finer details of starting seeds. I covered all aspects, from seed selection through to the first potting on. However, I only touched on the use of fertilisers. It is a base I thought I already had covered. After all, Chilli seedlings don’t need fertilisers until much later. They first need to develop their first set of true leaves. When this happens, the seedlings are potted on. It is only at this stage that nutrients need to be considered.

It was to my surprise that after researching worm castings, I discovered there may be a better way to do things. It seems worm castings have a fantastic role in seed starting. This is what I learned.

Worm castings are essentially “worm poo”, for the want of a better way of describing them. They are a fertiliser made by feeding waste vegetables and animal products to worms. The worms eat these waste products; it passes through their digestive systems, and you are left with castings.

The conventional wisdom is that seedlings have enough nutrients to carry them through to their first set of true leaves. They don’t need any additional nutrients before then. So, if that is the case, why would anyone want to change? The truth is, what I discovered made total sense to me. It seemed like I had found new ground, and it was something I just had to try. Here’s why.

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