Whether you like them super-hot, or just to warm your taste buds, chilli peppers add heat and flavour to a variety of dishes. Even better, growing chilli peppers at home is fairly easy and trouble free.
Chilli plants also provide a good yield per plant, so is well worth growing them.
Sowing Chilli Seeds
The time to sow chilli seeds is from January to April, but the earlier the better to give the chillies more time to ripen.
Fill trays or modules with a good quality, moist, seed compost, and sow chilli seeds on top. Cover lightly with a little more compost.
To germinate, chilli seeds need a temperature from 18-25°C, so cover the pots with the lid of a propagator or put on a warm, sunny windowsill.
Once the seedlings begin to grow and are large enough to handle, they will need pricking out if they have been sown in seed trays. Use a tool, such as a lolly stick, to gently ease a seedling out. You can then plant in in a small pot of compost so it can grow further.
Growing Chilli Peppers
Chilli peppers like a warm atmosphere, so growing indoors is recommended, although a sheltered position outside, in full sun, will also work. If you do plant outside, make sure all chance of frost has passed and space chilli plants 18 inches apart. It is also a good idea to invest in a cloche, so you can shelter the plants if needed.
As the plants grow, put them into bigger pots or grow bags to allow them to fully mature.
Some help with pollination will help to increase the yield of chilli plants. Although they are self-pollinating, the movement of insects from flower to flower can enhance the process. If grown indoor, there are less insects around to help with pollination. You can encourage pollination by using a fine paintbrush to move pollen between the flowers.
Caring for Chilli plants
Water in dry conditions and feed with a little organic fertiliser, like organic tomato feed, each week once the peppers begin to develop.
Harvesting and storing Chilli Peppers
Depending on the variety, chillies are usually green orange or red when ripe. From mid-summer onwards, snip them from the plant when ready.
Chillies can be eaten fresh, and if dried they last for many months.