Sunday, 17 February 2013

Spring is springing

This year's batch of seeds are doing well with most beginning to show their heads in the propagator. I've planted some Habanero varieties I've not grown before, including Peach Habs, Fruit Burst, Fatali and the wonderfully named Squat Frog. How could I resist growing a plant with such a great name.

Doset Naga seedlings

Habanero Fruit Burst

Habanero Squat Frog
The seeds came from Simpson's Seeds and the packets contained lots of helpful growing information about the varieties.  Certainly something that other seed providers could do with paying heed to.

Trinidad Scorpion, overwintered from last year

Red and Yellow Scotch Bonnets, overwintered from last year
 Most of the overwintered plants are beginning to throw out new shoots and leaves.  The Trinidad Scorpion plants are looking particularly good so I have high hopes for them.  I planted them very late last year so didn't expect to see any flowers or fruit.  Because they were so small I didn't cut them back hard before the winter so they've had a head start on some of the other plants.

Red and Yellow Scotch Bonnet seedlings
The Scotch Bonnet seedlings have been potted on to the party cups.  I've used plenty of perlite in the compost to improve aeration and water retention. Sadly the compost I used was very poor with lots of sticks and lumps in the bag.  I've sieved out the worst so hopefully it should be ok for the seedlings.  I understand the environmental reasons for avoiding peat in compost but it really does do a much better job for seeds and delicate seedlings.

Saturday, 2 February 2013

Start the ball rolling

Ok, so weather wise we've only just finished digging ourselves out of the snow so it might seem a bit optimistic to think that spring is already here. However it is officially Imbolc, the Gaelic festival marking the beginning of spring.
The new arrivals, Scotch Bonnets, Dorset Nagas and Orange Habaneros

So what better time to start the ball rolling with the chillies.  The seedlings I planted a few weeks ago are doing well and today I've planted another small batch of seeds to fill in the gaps of those that didn't sprout.

The plants that I overwintered in the Chilli-Grows have been given a tidy up and I'm starting to feed them again.  One plant didn't survive, a Chocolate Habanero, so that's been uprooted and replaced with one of the Black Nagas that I had in a smaller pot.

The Chocolate Habs were a real disappointment last year, of the half a dozen plants that grew, only one produced fruit and that happened to be one that I'd given away to a colleague.  I'm trying Magnum Orange Habaneros this year so we'll see how they perform.

I kept some plants in the coldframe outside with a heater set to 10 degrees to see how they managed.  One or two died due to mold or die-back (where the stems turn brown and hollow).  However, there's a number that seem to have made it through.  They're looking a little worse for wear with some dead stems and lots of dried leaves.  Over the next couple of weeks I'll clean them up and start feeding them in an attempt to kickstart them back into action.

Sunburn being made - it's quite a limited edition

I used up the last of the frozen Yellow Scotch Bonnets  from last season by making some more 'Sunburn' Sauce.  It's a sweet, tropical sauce using mangos and papaya.  It's not too insanely hot but has a nice lingering burn on the mouth and lips, a lot, I suspect, due to the quantities of ginger in there.

'Sunburn' has to be the most popular sauce I've made so I've ensured that there are plenty of Scotch Bonnet seedlings in the propagator.  If I can get enough fruiting then I could have a bit of a production line going for the Sunburn and maybe even sell a few bottles.

Finally, those of you that took up the Chilli Challenge at our wedding need to start getting those seeds planted soon. If you're in need of propagators, pots or advice then drop me a line and there's some helpful hints here