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Gower Chillis

Port Eynon, Swansea

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  • Tubers, Seeds, Bulbs, Corms and Cuttings
  • Chilis

       

CONTACT DETAILS

          Tel 07854 319768     email     andrew.brooks@gowerchillis.com

 

 

How to successfully grow your Chillis!

All of the Chilli seeds sold by Gower Chillis have been grown successfully on Gower, just outside Swansea, in a greenhouse and poly-tunnel. As a rule the hotter the species, the more difficult chilli seeds are to germinate and grow successfully into mature and productive plants. Not all the seeds in each packet will germinate; sometimes a whole crop will fail if the conditions are not quite right. This is why we give you between 10-20 seeds of each species.
Plant your Chilli seeds in January or February in some seed compost. They need to be in a warm place (and a heated electric seed propagator is best) such as a warm kitchen or airing cupboard. Once the seeds emerge they need as much light as you can give them (professionals might use artificial lamps to mimic sunlight and longer summer days) so choose a south facing conservatory or windowsill for best results.

If you are buying chilli plants as seedlings or small plants then follow the same instructions from here. Once the seedlings have three or four pairs of leaves replant them on their own, or in pairs, in 7-10cm pots. When they are 15-20 cm tall (or looking a little pot-bound with lots of roots coming out of the bottom) replant them into 1L pots. As they grow keep re-potting until by June / July they are in at leats 4 or 5L pots.  Remember some species grow much slower than others so it pays to be patient.

Most Chillis will self pollinate or get pollinated by normal garden insects but some species (hot ones in particular) will benefit from pollination with a soft brush (pick up pollen from one flower and spread it onto others on the same plant).  If your chillis are in a greenhouse leave the door open as much as possible to let the insects in that will pollinate the flowers.

Water every day, or every other day, depending on the weather (more frequently in hot weather) and feed your Chillis with tomato feed once or twice a week from when the first Chilli fruits set. Pick the Chillis when they ripen and this will encourage new flower growth. Once they finish fruiting late in the year, prune them back a little and overwinter indoors (or in a heated greenhouse or conservatory). They will sprout in the spring with much greater vigour and produce more Chillis, much earlier, than in year 1. My own experience is that it is worth keeping chillis for around 3 years if they survive, as beyond that they tend to lose vigour and productivity.

Growing and Preserving Question and Answer

When do I plant my chilli seeds? Plant them in January or February if you want a good crop from mature plants but remember once you start you have to look after them.

My Chilis aren’t germinating very well – what can I do? The key factors that help germination are heat and moisture. In order to successfully germinate all chillis they need to be in a warm place and kept moist.  Near a radiator, on a heated floor, in an airing cupboard all of these should work for most chilli species.  The best and most reliable ways to gemrinate seeds is to use an electric propatator which not only heats the soil to around 30 degrees celcius but also has a lid that keeps humidity high.   Some companies will sell solutions that they say will help germination.  I have not tried these but have achieved 100% germination with the above techniques so they are not imperative.

The flowers are dropping off my chillis before fruit set – why is this happening?  Flower drop is a common problem.  I have seen suggestions that this is to do with over watering and this may be a contributory cause.  The two most important factors I have found however seem to be heat and pollination.  In other words it is hard to get flowers to  pollinate successfully in cold damp conditions.  The weather in itself may not be the direct cause and it may be that this type of weather is simply suppressing pollinating insects.  For non self-pollinating flowers (and there are quite a few of these) the key requirement is lots of insects that pollinate flowers i.e. bees, flies, hover flies etc.  Do all that you can to encourage these insects like planting flowers that attract them, leaving doors open in your greenhouse or poply-tunnel so that they can get in etc.

I have problems with aphids – what should I do? Many books suggest sprays of soap solution but this is no good when you have chillis around as well as flowers.  The two best ways of dealing with aphids are firstly to knock them off by hand and secondly to get as many ladybirds into your chilli environment as possible.  By checking each plant every couple of days and rubbing off any aphids you find (crushing them in the process) will definitely keep them in check.  If this is coupled with collecting and distributing ladybirds this technique is quite effctive.  Ladybirds not only eat aphids but also lay something like 40 eggs a day that hatch into aphid eating larvae.  

When can I pick my chillis? Chillis can be picked once they are fully grown whether they are green or have ripened.  Many recipes all for green chillis and I find the golden cayennes to be one of the best chillis for this as they develop early and are nice and hot when green.

Are green chillis hotter than ripe coloured chillis? No ripe chillis are hotter than green chillis (of the same variety) but dried chillis are up to 10 times hotter by volume than fresh chillis (so 10g of dry chillis is 10 times hotter than 10g of fresh chillis).  This latter point is because when chillis are dried the water is lost but the capsaicin stays.

How do I store and preserve my chillis? Fresh chillis can be kept in the fridge for several weeks and can be kept frozen for even longer.  My preferred way is to blend chillis with white wine or cider vinegar and a little salt.  This chilli concentrate can be kept in the fridge or pantry for several months and is very easy to use being of a consistent heat by volume.  Chillis can also be preserved in a weak pickling solution.  It is possible to dry chillis by simply hanging them in teh greenhouse or poly tunnel on long strings or chilli ristras as they are called.  I have found that a large sewing needle and fishing nylon is best for this.  They will take a few weeks to fully dry but look great.  I have tried drying chillis in the kitchen and they have a tendency to go mouldy due to the high humidity.  If you are able, you can invest in a de-humidifier which drys almost anything, and chillis in only couple of days.

 

 

The Spring Chilli Growers Fair will be at the Swansea Community Farm on Saturday 12th April;

Come and see the animals, look around the farm, have some great food and all the chillis you want!  New season Gower chilli plants, chilli sauces, chilli cookoff exhibition and free chilli tastings plus all the information you need on the 2014 Gower Chilli festival and Cookoff. Its a great day for everyone!

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Start planning now for the Gower Chilli Festival and Cookoff which will be held on 18th / 19th July in South Gower Sports Club, Scurlage SA3 1BA. There will be a Pre-Festival ‘Fiesta’ on the 18th and camping over the 2 nights available’

Planning for the festival and chilli cookoff is already in full swing. The range of food, drink and craft producers already signed up is fantastic…spicy chorizo, artisan breads, Gower sausages, chilli cola, foraged foods, specialist spices, indian cuisine, ginger and garlic specialities, chilli beer, welsh tea and coffee producers, locally made chilli chocolates, artisan pasties, jams, jellies and chutneys and of course limited edition chilli sauces!

It is a perfect time to get involved so if you run a local / Welsh craft business or produce some wonderful food / drink products please do get in touch. Exhibitor booking forms are now out – if you have not received yours just email or contact us on Facebook.

In addition to wonderful produce and gifts there will be a special exhibition and video about the World Chilli Cookoff Championships which I both cooked and judged at in Palm Springs, California on the 11th-13th October 2013.  It was an amazing event!

The Chilli Cookoff at the Festival this year will be aligned to the UK Chilli Cookoff Association and the cookoff winner will be eligible to enter the the UK Chilli Cookoff Final – please see the UKCCA Website.

 

 

CHILLIS VARIETIES

Scotch Bonnet
Trinidad Scorpion
Orange Habanero
Yellow Habanero
Chocolate Habanero
Golden Cayenne
Ring of Fire Cayenne
Cherry Bomb
Hot Cherry
Naga Morich
Naga Viper
Chocolate Naga
Naga Jolokia
Yellow 7-Pot
Gambia Red
Yellow Aji
Pasilla
Ancho Poblano
Bulgarian Carrot
Hungarian Hot Wax

Information About Chillis:

Chilli terminology can be confusing. Pepper, chili, chile, chilli and capsicum are used interchangeably to describe the plants and pods of the genus Capsicum. The name comes from the Greek kapto, ‘to bite’ and there are five species (with hundreds of varieties).

• annuum, meaning “annual,” (which is incorrect as all chillis can be perennial if they are looked after even in the UK climate – where they need to come indoors to overwinter), includes most of the common types like NuMex, Jalapeño, Cherries and Waxes, Anchos and Cayennes

• baccatum, meaning “berrylike,” which consist of the South American chillis known as ajís. The flower corollas are white with dark green or brown spots; anthers yellow or tan. Below you will see a few of these varieties as, like the Rocottos they fruit and ripen late into the Winter extending the fresh chilli season.

• chinense, meaning “from China,” (which is not correct) this species include the habaneros, scotch bonnets and the super hot varieties such as Naga Jolokia, Bhut Jolokia, Dorest Naga and Infinity Chillis. Flowers have white to greenish corollas and purple anthers and filaments.

• frutescens, meaning “shrubby or bushy,” includes the Tabasco’s . Flowers have greenish white corollas with no spots and blue anthers

• pubescens, meaning “hairy,” and includes the rocottos. Sprawling plant up to 6 feet high; flowers have purple corollas, purple anthers and stand erect above the leaves. At Gower Chillis we grow the Rocotto varieties which are particularly late ripening which means we have ripe chillis right up until Christmas.   

     
     

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