Tuesday, 18 August 2015

Summer months

So despite the lack of updates, the garden has kept growing.  I had a disappointing crop of seedlings from the seeds I planted.  Only about 50% germinated and I lost many due them drying out.  Whilst I took every care to keep the seedlings watered, the Root Riot cubes seemed to be very quick to dry out and I lost many due to a moment's inattention.

However, the seedlings that made it were duly planted out in one of the Quadgrows and a Chilligrow. In order to save me having to check for watering so regularly (yes, I am that lazy), I then hooked them up to an additional 25l reservoir which would supply the 'grows via a water level valve (Greenhouse Sensations again).

Once that was done, I practically ignored the plants and just let get them on with the job of growing...

The greenhouse is looking full, time for a prune

Plenty of lush growth in the Chilli Forest

Twilight Chillies, this year's chilli challenge plant.

More Twilights

Even more Twilights - Just the one plant but it seems to be thriving. 

Peach Bhut Jolokia 

Flowers on the Cayenne

Kashmiri Mirch chillies, mild chillies with a brilliant red colour (when ripe) which are used to add fantastic colour to curries without excessive heat.
Joe's Long Cayennes - these were the chillies we used last year for the chilli challenge. These could be record breakers by the time they ripen!

It's not just chillies in the greenhouse. The Sweet-Millions tomato is also doing really well in a Quadgrow.

Monday, 23 February 2015

New year, new start

So things have been dormant for a while.  I've not had time over the winter to do much with the greenhouse but now spring is springing and I thought it was about time to dust off the propagators and get the seeds started.

Last year I planted the seeds nice and early but was then stuck with a mass of rapidly growing seedlings and nowhere for them to go until the greenhouse was built.

This year I've left it a little later to plant the seeds and I'll keep them well away from the overwintered  chillies to avoid transmitting aphids to the new seedlings when they arrive.

As for the overwintered plants, most have succumbed to mould. I didn't get round to installing the planned passive solar system in time for winter and the greenhouse has been quite damp. I'll get the heating sorted in time for the new seedlings but last year's stock has effectively been written off.

I've opted for 16 different varieties this year, a mixture of old favourites and some new superhots. I've using Growth Technology Root Riot cubes this year to see how they perform.  Although more expensive than seed trays or jiffy pellets, with fewer seeds to plant the expense is less important than the germination and survival rate.

So here are this year's contenders...

Kashmiri Mirch, Chocolate Scotch Bonnet, Jay's Peach Ghost Scorpion, Trinidad 7 Pot Brown

Black Naga, Peach Bhut Jolokia, Hot Lemon, Paper Lantern

Moruglah F2, White Bhut Jolokia, Joe's Long Cayenne, Twilight (this year's Chilli Challenge seeds)

Chocolate Habanero, Fatalli, Naga Morich, Bubblegum 7 Pot

The heated propagators are up and running, the lights will come in to play once the seedlings start sprouting.

Wednesday, 8 October 2014

First Harvest

Autumn is here and I'm beginning to enjoy the (meagre) fruits of this year's labour. Due to a late start I've not had the huge crops I hoped for but there's certainly enough chillies to produce some of the sauces I've got planned.

Every once in a while you can get complacent with chillies, such was the case with a bowl of Padrons the other evening. These tangy green chillies were grown by my mother and she presented me with a carrier bag full of them to enjoy.  Fried in olive oil and scattered liberally with salt, these Northern Spanish chillies make a delicious Tapas.  However, about 10% of these usually sweet chillies are hot, and these particular ones, being a little older and larger than usually picked, packed a fearsome punch. Nose streaming and mouth burning I was forced to quench the fire with a cold beer (the hardship!) and proceed with caution through the rest of the bowl.

Padrons - handle with caution.
This year's chilli challenge was a success with an number of impressive looking Joe's Long Cayennes being entered for the title of longest chilli. After much deliberation by the judging panel (i.e. holding up the chillies for comparison) the winners were announced as Dave and Annie, who took home the hamper stuffed with chilli goodies (and a couple of bottles of wine as well).

Below are growing photos from the entries.


Meanwhile the chillies in the greenhouse have been slowly ripening, I've had to employ the old trick of ripe banana skins to try and speed things along. It seems to have had some success and I managed a few small harvests before the weather broke and the rain set in.

7 Pots ripening in the greenhouse
Scotch Bonnet Big Sun
An early harvest from the greenhouse - Clockwise from top left; Sweet Banana, Cayenne, Superchilli, Cheyenne.
Clockwise from top left; 7 Pot Hab, Black Tongued Scorpion, Cayenne, Peach Hab, Scotch Bonnet Big Sun, RedScotch Bonnet, Nepalese Snakebite.
Supersized pods - Yellow 7 Pot Habs and Peach Habs.
Now the weather has changed I've begun the task of winterising the greenhouse.  I'm slowly covering all the glass with bubblewrap and, time and budget allowing, I'm hoping to employ some more innovative methods of keeping the greenhouse frost-free this winter. More to follow soon.

Wednesday, 27 August 2014

Growing old gracefully.

Well things are (very) slowly ripening in the greenhouse. We could certainly do with a little more sunshine to speed things along.  Many of the plants are loaded with fruit but without the sunshine they're taking their own sweet time to ripen.

I haven't yet tried it but apparently putting a banana peel in amongst the plants is supposed to help as the banana gives off ethylene gas which hastens ripening.  With the green house holding temperatures well I've still got another month or so of growing season so I won't be resorting to the bananas yet, fingers crossed for some more clement weather.

Peach Habanero
Yellow Scotch Bonnet
7 Pot Habanero
Of particular note is the 7 Pot Hab, which is dripping with pods, some of which are a good 5cm in length.  Bearing in mind the fearsome heat of these pods (they get their name from being able to flavour a week's worth of stew) this single plant will provide for a good few bottles of sauce.  If you're a fan of the 7 Pot heat, you could do a lot worse than check out Upton Cheyney's Megalodon Sauce, possibly the only chilli sauce with it's own Facebook page.

(L) Peach Habanero (R) Yellow Scotch Bonnet


The twisted Nepalese Snakebite 
I've finally got round to trying out the Nagatropolis chilli sauce that was a valentine's present from my long-suffering wife. It's a beautifully packaged sauce with its white graphics and paper-wrapped cap.  It's these little touches that set it apart from the mass-market sauces flooding the market.

The taste doesn't disappoint either.  The heat level is understandably high but without the acidic sharpness of some sauces.  I loaded a pizza with it the other night and was left suitably speechless and hiccuping (my usual state after any hot sauce - did I mention that my wife is long-suffering?).  The afterburn is a long-lasting and pleasant tingle on the lips.  What was surprising was the strength of the smokiness.  Whilst the label mentions smoked garlic, I certainly wouldn't describe it as subtle - not a problem for me as I love the taste but it did deter my wife who isn't a fan of smokey sauces.

All in all, a very tasty and very well made sauce, thick and sticky and with no harsh notes and certainly well worth the price tag.

Monday, 18 August 2014

Short back and sides

Being halfway through August already, the emphasis has now moved away from growing big sturdy plants but to swelling and ripening the fruit forming on the plants.

I trimmed plenty of the leaves from the base of the plants to increase airflow and prevent any risk of fungus on the soil. I also thinned out the tops, removing any stems that didn't already have fruit forming, to allow more light into the greenhouse.

A light pruning to open up the plants to light and air

7 Pot Habaneros

7 Pot Habanero

The 7 Pots are growing well with gnarly looking pods forming. I've not tried these bumpy looking pods before so I'm looking forward to them ripening.

Scotch Bonnet

Scotch Bonnet

Peach Habanero

Friar's Hat

Friar's Hat



Sweet Banana

Scotch Bonnet Big Sun

Unknown - was labeled as a Jalapeno but looks like a Cayenne type



The greenhouse looking slightly lighter

Monday, 28 July 2014

Endless summer

Whilst there's plenty more work to be done in the garden the greenhouse is settling in nicely
There's plenty foliage inside. The drip feeders for the Root Pouches can seen on top of the pots.
The habaneros to the right are producing good sturdy stems.
Sweet Banana
Some of these were the seedlings I damaged with the soap, it's good to see they've recovered.
Padrons collected from Galicia.
Black Pearl
The beautiful variegated leaves of Orozco
Lots of fruit on the Cheyenne plant.
Black Tongued Scorpion
Nepalese Snakebite