Choosing seeds. Day one of the season


Okay, so I have decided to get this year’s Chilli growing season into full gear.  Where do I go from here? To have a good season, it is important to get the basics right. While growing Chillies is easy, there is quite a bit that can go wrong.  With this in mind, I prefer using a well-thought-out strategy that will give me the best chance of success.

One thing to consider in this strategy is the seed to maturity growth rate of the Chillies. Some varieties like Bell peppers, Cayennes and Jalapenos will bear fruit within ninety days of the seeds after having been started. Superhot varieties on the other hand, can take more than 120 days from final potting-on before they start fruiting.  Carolina reapers, for example, can take over 250 days.

This year I want to grow a combination of mild, medium and hot chillies. With the mild and medium Chillies , I expect to harvest by September.  The hot varieties will take longer. There is even the possibility that the hotter varieties may not bear fruit this season at all. I may have to overwinter them for a crop next year. All this will depend on the weather.  Chillies like lots of sunshine to do well. Without it, they take longer to grow.

The Chillies I have chosen

Choosing seeds

With the above in mind, the first thing I do when I start a season is to choose the seeds I will plant. As mentioned above, I want to grow a selection of Chillies ranging from mild to hot.

The mildest Chilli I will be planting is the Longhorn F1 and the hottest is an orange Habanero. The Longhorn F1 is in the 15000 to 20000 SHU range, while the Orange Habanero can exceed 350000 SHU. At this stage, I am only growing, only one superhot. It is a Trinidad Scorpion Butch Taylor, which I overwintered last year. The Scoville rating of this Chilli is between 1000000 and 1.475000 SHU.

Because I have overwintered some plants, I will not grow as many from seed, as in previous seasons.  There is after all a limit to the space I have to grow my Chillies.  Even then, I will still probably land up with between forty and forty and fifty plants!

What I will be planting

Chilli species

My selection of seeds covers the Capsicum Annuum, Chinense and Frutescens species. I won’t be planting any other species this season, but next year I certainly will. The Rocoto, which falls under Capsicum pubescens is something that I am particularly interested in because of its resistance to cold weather. Anyway, back to this year! These are the Chillies I will be planting.

Longhorn F1

The Longhorn Fl is a high yielding Cayenne type Chilli ( available from Suttons) with very long fruit. It has a Scoville heat rating of 15000 to 20000 SHU. It falls under the Capsicum Annuum species and has a seed to maturity period of about six to seven months.  Ripening will take longer.  I should be able to start harvesting in August/September.

 Orange Habenero

The orange Habanero is a very hot Chilli similar to a Scotch Bonnet. This Chilli has a long growing period before it will produce any fruit, so it is essential to start it now. It has a Scoville heat rating of about 350000 SHU. In line with most hotter Chillies, Habaneros can take over over 4 months from final posting to bear fruits.  I expect to begin harvesting from September to October, but that will depend on the weather. It is possible that I may have to over winter this Chilli.

Thai Demon.

This Chilli belongs to the Capsicum frutescens  species. It is a high yielding dwarf variety that produces lots of little red Chillies. It has a Scoville rating of about 50000 SHU.   Once again, a long growing period. It takes between 75 and 95 days from potting – on to bear fruit. I expect to harvest these plants from August to September. It may take even longer for the fruit to ripen.  The Thai Demon Chilli makes a very attractive house plant. It can be kept alive in a pot on a sunny windowsill for many years.

Barak Chilli.

This Chilli falls under the Capsicum annuum species. It is a variety of Pequin Chillies (bird peppers). This ornament Chilli produces red, orange, yellow and purple Chillies with a Scoville rating of 95000 to 100000 SHU.  Chillies grow to about an inch in length. The Barak takes between ten and twenty one days to germinate. From there, it takes a further one hundred days to harvest.  This Chilli also makes a very attractive houseplant that can be brought indoors during winter. It is a prolific producer. Expected harvest in September

Ciliegia Piccante (Satans Kiss)

A new one for me.  Golf ball shaped Chillies from Italy that start off green and ripen to a bright red. The fruit grows to between one and two inches wide. The bushes of these Chillies can grow quite tall, reaching well over three feet tall.  it is a fast growing Chilli and will produce fruit 120 days from germination. It is part of the Capsicum annuum species.   Satan’s kisses have a Scoville heat rating of 40000 to 50000 SHU. I expect to harvest in August/September.

African birds-eye

Also known as the  Peri – Peri Chilli. This plant produces small Chillies with exceptional flavour. It has a Scoville rating of between 150000 and 175000 SHU.  This Chilli has quite a long growing period. Its seeds will germinate after two weeks, but it may take three to four months before it produces any fruit.  It belongs to the Capsicum Frutescense species I expect to harvest in September. The African birds-eye Chilli is an old favourite of mine. It can be used to make excellent hot sauces and Peri – Peri Chicken

Overwintered plants

I have six plants that I overwintered from last season. These are one unknown variety (which I will attempt to identify, two Scotch bonnets, two Bolivian rainbows, and a Trinidad Scorpion Butch T. The Scotch bonnets have already provided me with a crop (last year). The others still have to reach maturity. I expect to have fruit set from these plants in July or August.  Harvesting should take place in September or October (once the Chillies have ripened).

Final notes


All in all, I will plant 6 seeds of each variety.  I do not expect all to germinate. If all do, I will have a dilemma on my hands. Do you take them all through to the next stage, or do you choose the strongest only?  This is always a tough decision. I suspect the best answer lies in how much time one has to take care of the plants. It also depends on how much space you have. The plants I have chosen can grow quite big. They are best suited to a property with a garden or an allotment. Luckily, I have enough space. With limited space, it would be better to have gone for dwarf varieties like Basket of fire, the Demon Thai or  Chilli Apache.

Now (or even earlier) is the time to start sowing. If you have not already ordered your seeds, now is the time to do it.  Choose your seeds and place your order.  Most online seed suppliers deliver within a few days.

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Preparing Chilli seeds for fast germination

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