Ripening with grow lights

Grow lights work well

Last year September because I was experiencing a problem  with getting my Chillies ripe in time for the end of the season I placed them under grow lights to see whether this would speed up ripening . After two weeks, I was delighted to advise it had worked. The two plants I had under the lights started to ripen. Two other plants of the same variety that I had kept outside showed  no signs of doing the same. This  convinced me that ripening under grow lights works. Here is what happened.

When I brought a Barak and (then  identified) Apache F1 Chilli plant indoors and placed them under grow lights    it was very much an experiment. I had no ideas that placing them under  grow lights would  work  It certainly did. The Barak Chilli plant had two pods that changed colour. One pod had changed from yellow to orange, the other was  almost red. Some of the other pods on the plant  also showed  signs of ripening.

The Apache F1, although only having one Chilli that had turned red had demonstrated that it too was  on its way. I’m was sure  the rest of the fruit on these plants follow suit, which in due course they did

At the time it was not all doom and gloom outside. Some of the Chillies on my bigger plants were  also showing signs of colour change . My Longhorn F1s were  showing signs of ripening.  I could see a colour change right at the top of their pods.   On my Trinidad Butch Taylor, I had a couple Chillies that have turned yellow/brown. Similarly, I had seen signs of ripening on one of the Scotch bonnets that I had  overwintered.

While it was  encouraging to see the start of ripening on the plants outside, I was still concerned about many of my other plants. The Satan’s Kiss, for example, had  a lot of fruit, but still showed no signs of getting ripe.  The same went for my Bolivian Rainbows and White Wax Chilli plant. 

The final countdown

The season  was ending

We still had  six weeks until the season was  over, but it still seemed as if I had cut things a bit fine this. The fact that I started later than usual, combined with a lack of sunshine, had definitely impacted the results I was  getting.

To capitalise on my grow light  ripening discovery, I  decided I would bringing in many of my smaller plants to ripen inside. As far as the bigger plants were  concerned, I did not have that luxury. They were  too big to place under grown lights. With them, I am just had  hold on tight. They  were  kept in the open until the end of the season  From there, I  moved them into the heated grow houses mentioned previously.  These  plants  survived  in  these houses until mid-December, but after that  they started dying before getting fully ripe. It was such a pity !

Final update

Bringing my Chillies indoors and placing them under grow lights is something that I have repeated this year as I face the the same problem. While I was  proactive in planting my seeds earlier, I have still not been able to get all my Chillies ripe before the end of the season. Don’t get wrong. Its not that I have already harvested a fair amount, its just that some still have a while to go.

One thing I am happy about though is this year I  invested in more grow lights. This means that not only can I plant more seeds early next year , but it also means that I have more space to ripen my Chillies. This year there will be no need to place my plants in heated  grow tents the way I did last year. They are now safely indoors in my garage and are  ripening nicely under the lights. I expect to be able to harvest a great many more than I managed to last year, which in turn will mean more Chilli sauces, jams, chutneys, relishes and Chillies. I am looking forward to making them.

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