Thursday, 28 June 2012

The photo edition

 For a change I thought I would ditch the compact camera and actually take some proper photos with a macro lens. So here's a few shots of some of the various chillies on the go at the moment, flowers, fruit and foliage.
Flowers on the rare superhot Black Nagas, whether the fruit is truly black remains to be seen.
Tiny fruit and flowers on the ornamental Prairie Fire.
Purple Jalapeno  
Explosive Ember
New Mex Centennial
Scotch Bonnet
Aphid Attack!
Greenfly is a constant problem, particularly for those plants grown on the windowsill.  The heat and lack of humidity are perfect conditions for these sap suckers.  Putting the plants outside will help slow the aphids but sometimes the infestation is so bad that the only resort is the dreaded pesticide.  Fortunately there are organic pesticides that will still allow you to harvest the fruit within several days of spraying.
The Superchilli is a real standout plant, producing mounds of hot red fruits.  Sadly I gave most of mine away this year but it's a plant that I'll definitely overwinter and sow more next year.

This unusual fruit is actually a Padron pepper.  Not only is it the wrong size but also the wrong shape.  I suspect that it's a cross-breed with the Chilhuacle Negro plant next to it.
Chilhuacle Negro
Hungarian Hot Wax
Black Hungarian (in the rain). 
A healthy crop of Friar's Hat chillies.  It's important to keep picking the fruit to encourage the plant to put out more flowers.
Orozco's beautiful leaves 
A two-tone leaf on the Orozco plant

Thursday, 21 June 2012

Summer solstice

Friar's Hat chilli in the rain
Well it's now the summer solstice is upon us and we're all lying in the garden soaking up the sunshine surrounded by a forest of ripening chillies.

Well, that's not exactly true.  Looking out of the window on the longest day of the year at the sheets of pouring rain, I'm not surprised, not even angry, just disappointed.  The garden is sodden, the slugs have grown to a size that threatens household pets and the neighbour is collecting two of every animal.

Tomato and chilli plants on the newly constructed staging.
On top of all that, the lack of sunshine means the chillies are taking their own sweet time to ripen. In good warm weather it would be entirely possible to move the majority of the chillies into the back garden and growhouses but with the cold rain and drizzle ever present I've decided to keep them on the windowsills for a bit longer.

Black Jalapeno chillies on the kitchen windowsill
Black Hungarian chilli
As a result, my windowsills are once again full, what little weak sunshine filters through the clouds is now blocked by a forest of chilli leaves.  Every windowsill is doing its duty, even the bathroom sill is sporting a pair of sweet pepper plants alongside the compulsory spider plant.

Bedroom windowsill
Bathroom windowsill
Study windowsill
Lounge windowsill
Lounge windowsill
Kitchen windowsill
On another note, having packed away the propagators for the summer and not expecting to be growing any more seedlings this year I recieved a present from a good friend of mine - photographer and retoucher Catherine Day. Cathy bought me a fantastic selection of classic and interesting seeds, including the Mexican tree chilli de Arbol, the unusual Capa Conic and the fearsome Trinidad Scorpion.  So, before anyone could say "haven't you got enough already", I'd dusted off the propagator and sown the seeds into Jiffy pellets.

I have to say that I've become a big fan of these pellets as a growing medium.  The plants I've reared so far in them have all grown healthy and strong and, although they're more expensive than seed trays or the DIY cardboard tubes I used earlier in the year, I've had a better success rate which means I'll be able to plant less in future and still be assured of getting sufficient plants.

The Scorpion and De Arbol seedlings progressing well
Safely tucked away on top of the aquarium and with a grow light making up for the absent sunshine, they're getting all the heat and light they need and have grown well.  I can't wait to be able to pot them on and despite being late in the season to be planting chillies, I'm counting on an Indian summer to give them a boost late into the year so hopefully I'll still be able to harvest a good crop before winter.

I plan to overwinter as many of the interesting varieties as I can, particularly the slower growing Habaneros, Nagas and Scorpions as it should give them a head start next year.  This certainly has proved worthwhile with the Orozco and Friar's Hat that I overwintered last year, with both plants looking healthy and producing a good crop of fruit early in the year.

Now all I have to do is wait for a bit of sunshine so everything else can catch up...