We’ve been getting so many great comments and discussion from some of our regular readers we thought it would be good to get to know some of them better. Each month we’ll be inviting a reader to write a guest post and answer a few questions, sharing some of their tips and advice with fellow chilli gardeners.
Junes Reader: Gordon Morrison aka ‘Gordzilla’ from Wrexham, North Wales.
What Varieties Are You Growing?
I’ve wanted to grow chilli’s for many years but never bothered up til this year. I bought some fresh Naga’s from worldofchillies.com which I cooked with but I also bought a variety pack of the world’s top ten hottest seeds. After forgetting about the seeds for 2 years I finally sowed them this spring into standard sized propagators and covered them with about 10mm of soil.
Gordon’s germination tip
I left my propagators on top of my central heating boiler for the furs few weeks to speed up germination. Luckily it was still quite cold outside so the heating was on most of the time, giving my seeds a nice boost of heat. After a couple of weeks the first seedlings appeared so I let a little air in to them for about an hour at a time.
After a further 7 days most of the varieties had a germination rate of at least 7 out of 10 apart from the Naga’s which took an extra week. Oh and before planting the seeds I labeled up the propagator’s so as not to get confused over what’s growing.
What Conditions are you growing your chillies in?
After germination was complete I left the propagators on my kitchen window which faces south for a few days while I built my light box, using some MDF and a single 18w 600mm cool white tube. I put some of my seedlings into the light box on a 19 hour day cycle and they shot up!
After a week in the light box the plants were ready to pot on so I used the cardboard type of pot about 40mm across. I use these so that a good root system develops before the next stage, also when you pot on again you don’t take the plant out of the cardboard pot, you just re pot the lot. The roots will go through the cardboard pot and into the bigger pot, minimizing any disruption to the plants.
The windowsill plants needed about an extra week before they were ready to be potted on. Once i’d done this i was running out of room fast so i invested in a cheap plastic greenhouse for only £20. While this helped me house about a quarter of the 90 plants I had, i still ended up giving over half of them away to friends!
Note from The King: North Wales is not known for its tropical climate so Gordon’s success to date just goes to show that growing chilli plants in the UKs cool climate is easier than many people think.
What mistakes have you made this growing season?
Well, not really a mistake but to make matters worse i ended up buying some more seed on the internet (a gorgeous variety of chilli called Explosive Ember and some Thai Bird). These are have now just germinated and are in the light box. It’s 24-25 degrees in the day and about 19-20 at night so they should grow quickly.
Then to compound things I was in the florist buying flowers for my wife ( I hadn’t even done anything wrong!) when I saw they had a couple of good healthy plants. So I came home with flowers and an Apache which now lives in the greenhouse.
Note from The King: Planting too many seeds is a mistake i make every year! I always end up with a shop bought Apache – they are great fun and so prolific even if lacking a little in the flavour department.
Watering & Feed
I found watering only 3-4 days per week seems to work best, sometimes adding a feed of 1/4 strength tomato food seems to help too. Once my new seedlings have been potted on then I going to change the tube in my light box for a 300 LED grow light and put a couple a each variety in and just see want difference it makes
Note from The King: We’ve not tried LED lights yet so we’ll be interested to hear how you get on.
Thanks for that Gordon. Hopefully we’ll catch up again later in thew season to see how his plants get on throughout the summer. If you’d like you and your chilli plants to be featured next month in our readers feature get in contact.