Having a clean out of the freezer reveals all sorts of hidden goodies, including, in this case, four large bags of assorted chillies. What better way to use them than in a volcanic sauce. It was very much a 'use up what's to hand' sauce so there aren't many ingredients, other than an onion, some garlic, cider vinegar and of course the chillies, which naturally makes it incredibly hot. To counter some acidity from the vinegar, I added plenty of honey and some lime juice to take the edge off the sugar. The resulting sauce is sweet but with a zingy edge and has enough heat to keep your mouth burning for a while. Being a mixture of chillies (habaneros, inferno, cayenne, hungarian hot wax plus a few others), the burn is all over the mouth and doesn't relent for a while.
I've yet to design the label for this sauce but it's already been christened 'Honey Trap'
|What happens when half a kilo of chillies ends up in just five bottles...|
The principle is simple, when a submerged pump in the lower chamber switches on, it pumps nutrient enriched water into the upper box which is filled with an inert growing medium. When the chamber is flooded, the plant's roots are submerged and it can take on the water and feed it needs. When the pump switches off, the water drains back into the reservoir, drawing fresh air down onto the roots. This cycle is repeated anything from 3 to 6 times a day to ensure a steady stream of water, nutrients and oxygen reaches the roots, resulting in increased growth and less risk of disease or rotting from waterlogged plants.
Firstly I selected two large plastic boxes that would stack easily. The bottom one (the reservoir) has been sprayed black to make it light-tight and then silver so that the sun doesn't overheat the water and nutrient mix.
|Drilling a hole through the base of the growing box and into the lid of the res. This is for the overflow.|
|The overflow has a small hole drilled in the base to ensure minimal water is left in the top container|
|A mesh is fixed to the top of the overflow so the growing medium doesn't spill down it.|
|The submerged pump sits in the res and is attached via a hose to the top box|
|The custom-made screen that fits over the inlet hose to prevent blockage.|
|Filling with substrate. I'd positioned the overflow badly but that's something to consider for Mk. II|
|Test running the system - you can see the water pooling between the clay pebbles.|
|The system in place and planted up. The hole in the res is so the levels can be checked and be topped up.|
I planted the unit with a Peach Habanero and a Magnum Orange Habanero after carefully washing the soil out of their rootball. I have similar sized plants from the same seed stock growing in soil so it will be interesting to compare the results. The system has only be running for a day so far but, as yet, nothing's died and nothing has broken. Expect regular progress reports.
Away from the Heath-Robinson creations, there's stilll plenty of work to be done in the garden. It was time to pot on the third wave of replacement seedings which had been growing well in the chilli-house.
This is a mixture of Scotch Bonnets (for making more 'Sunburn' Sauce), Habaneros and Dorset Nagas.
|Squat Frog Habaneros and Dorset Nagas|
|Scotch Bonnets and Squat Frogs|
Meanwhile, there's been progress on the Chilli Challenge - the mystery seeds are growing rapidly with some fine-looking specimens in the running...
|Claudio & Diana's chillies|
If there are any more competitors out there with update photos, please send them in, we'd love to see how everyone is getting on.