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How to Grow Chillies
 

This is how I grow chillies in my greenhouse. I make no claims that is the best method or that it will produce the largest crops, but it has worked well for me.
Note that many of the photographs show a variety of different crops to illustrate the techniques.
Chillies require a long growing season, and will perform best in a greenhouse or polytunnel in full sun.

Sowing
 

  Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Sow                        
Pot On                        
Harvest                        

Click thumbnails for larger images

 

Step 1

Pass fresh multipurpose compost through a fine riddle to remove any lumps - I use this cheap plastic crate.

 

Step 2

Fill a half-sized seed tray with finely sieved compost and firm it down using a Compost Press.

 

Step 3

Make a series of holes using a Sowing Template. Sow one seed per hole, and pinch the compost closed around the seed.

 

 

Step 4

Gently spray with water so as not to wash the seeds around - I use an old shower cleaner bottle. Add a propagator cover if required.

Step 5

Set the tray in a warm, sunny place - a heated propagator is ideal, or sit them on a south-facing windowsill. The seeds should germinate in 2-3 weeks.

 

   

Potting On - First Time

 

Step 1

Sieve more fresh multipurpose compost, and part-fill one pot for each seedling.

Step 2

Carefully remove each seedling from the tray. I have found a couple of plastic forks to be perfect for this job.

 

Step 3

Set the seedling in the pot and fill around the root-ball with more compost. Chilli seedlings can be replanted deeper than they were originally - this is recommended especially if the seedlings are a little leggy.
 

Step 4

Water

Step 5

Set the pots in a warm, sunny place. A greenhouse or polytunnel should be fine as long as the plants are protected from frosts.

Step 6
Regularly check the base of the pots - once you can see roots they are ready to go into larger pots.

 

Potting On - Second Time

 

Step 1

I have found that chillies grow very happily in 4-5 litre pots. Whilst you can continue to transfer them to larger pots this requires more space and compost, and does not necessarily lead to larger yields.
 

Step 2

Find an empty pot the same size as the one containing the seedling. Fill the large pot with fresh compost to a level where the empty pot sits near the top of the larger pot.

 

Step 3

Add more compost around the empty pot and compact the soil. Note that the seedlings can be planted deeper than they were originally, especially if they are tall and leggy.

Step 4

Remove the empty pot, leaving a perfectly sized hole for your seedling.

 

Step 5

Remove the seedling from the small pot and carefully place it into the hole.

Step 6

Firm the compost around the plant, and water in.

Step 7
Set the plants in a warm sunny place.
       

Maintenance

 

Step 1

Water regularly, but do not let the plants sit in water.

Step 2

Keep the pots free of weeds to eliminate any competition for water and nutrients.

Step 3
Once the plants have produced flowers, add liquid tomato feed to the water twice weekly.
Step 4
Add support canes if necessary - varieties producing small fruits may not need extra support.
 

Step 5

Check regularly for signs of pests and disease, and take appropriate action.

Step 6

Remove any damaged or diseased leaves.

 

Step 7

Crop the fruit as soon as it is ripe, which will encourage more fruit to ripen. 

Step 8

The plants will begin to wither once overnight temperatures fall too low. At this point, crop the remaining fruit and remove the plants.

 

   

Note:

Although it is possible to overwinter chilli plants, when I tried this, the plants failed to produce any fruit the following year. Commercial growers grow new plants from seed each year, which implies that this method will produce better crops.
 

Harvesting & Storage

 

Cropping

Cut the chillies from the plant leaving a short stem.

Drying

Using nylon thread or thin fishing line, thread the chillies through the stems and hang in a warm dry place. Once thoroughly dry, they can be blitzed to make chilli flakes or powdered using a mortar and pestle.

Storage

Chillies can be kept for a few weeks in the fridge. For long-term storage, they can be frozen as whole fruits or chopped to save space.

 

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