Monday, February 21, 2011

Overwintering chillis

 I took these photo on saturday (ie February 19th 2011).....

perfume flower

The flower above belongs to Capsicum chinense "Trinidad Perfume". Trinidad Perfume is a very mild caribbean seasoning pepper; low on heat and massive on flavour but it belongs to the same species as some truly hot peppers (the scotch bonnets and habanero) and some superhot peppers (Trinidad Scorpion, 7-Pot and Bhut Jolokia). In other words even if you live in a temperate climate like me, it is possible to have chillis in flower in February (and hence in fruit in March). How you ask? Well surprisingly easily.....


Many people believe chillis to be an annual crop (like wheat or rice) but they're really perennial shrubs in nature, its just that it's not really worthwhile overwintering them if you're growing commercially. If however you have many plants of many different varieties it is well worth overwintering them. I kept the plant above in my frost-free conservatory over winter, feeding and watering it sparingly and the result is a large plant now bursting into growth and flower (whilst this year's seedlings are only a few inches high). It will obviously now have a massive headstart and should produce far more pods this year than last year (when it did ok anyway). The trick seems to be avoiding rot (by keeping plants dry - I water only when wilting commences) and giving them as much light as possible. I'm lucky in having the conservatory but you could do as well on a well positioned windowsill. Some people trim their chillis down to stumps to overwinter and trim the roots - I only did this with a few plants and it seemed to knock them back a bit - obviously if you only have limited space it is a worthy option however. So there you have it - roll the dice and try to overwinter your chillis - you've nothing to lose if you'd throw them away otherwise in any event.

No comments: