With the new years (and chilli growing season) ahead of us we thought we’d post some simply tips to help your chilli growing efforts this year.
Start Growing Early
Growing chillies in the relatively cool climate of the Europe (the same for North America) generally means that the time your plants have to fruit is much less than the chillies native climate in South America or Asia. The more heat and sun chilli plants receive, the more chillies they will produce. Here in the UK we obviously get less heat and sun than somewhere like say India, therefore we get less chillies too.
The best way to increase your chilli harvest is to start growing earlier. If you haven’t overwintered any chilli plants from last year then the easiest way to do this is to start thinking about getting some seeds planted now. By planting chilli seeds now you’ll have much more developed plants when the weather starts improving in the Spring meaning they will start fruiting much earlier.
Plan Ahead (Mainly Space!)
One of the most common problems we see year after year among chilli growers is them running out of space some the summer when their plants suddenly start to increase in size dramatically. It can be very easy to plant hundreds of seeds in early spring then not have the heart to cull the weak ones meaning you end up with way too many plants.
Take time to plan which varieties you want to grow this year and realistically how many fully grown plants you can accommodate. When working out exactly how many seeds to plant be sure to factor in giving some plants away to friends in the spring. Also you may lose some due to poor weather, pests or disease to i’d advise to plant slightly more than you think you’ll need.
Grow a variety of Chillies
As mentioned above it is much more fun to grow a number of different varieties. Different varieties have vastly different tastes, growing habits and behaviors so be sure not to just stick to one variety.
I generally always grow many of the easier varieties (such as Apache, Jalapeno, Cheyenne) while at the same time experimenting with some of the rarer or harder to grow varieties. A great way to get a good selection of varieties is to buy a seed multi pack.
Keep a log
One of the things we have learned over the years growing chillies is how useful keeping a log of your chilli growing can be. I keep a simply log of all of the chillies I grow. I maintain this in a spreadsheet however a simple notebook would suffice. Typical things i record are:
- No of Seeds Planted
- Potting Medium
- Source of Seeds
- Germination Rates
- Lighting used (if any)
- First flowering date
- First Fruit Date
- Rough indication of yield
- Notes on any pests/diseases
Doing the above helps me avoid making the same mistakes i’ve made in the past. At the end of the season I can reflect on which plants did well (and which didn’t) and figure out why some fared better than others.
Learn From Other Peoples Mistakes
The great thing about running thechilliking.com is the great community of fellow chilli lovers that are willing to share their advice and knowledge.
Do you have any other tips you’d like to share? If so please feel free to add a comment below.