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Growing Chillies - advice on how to grow Chillies

Growing Chillies requires a warm growing environment and so unless you live in a warm climate your Chillie plants will spend a considerable amount of time indoors or in the greenhouse.

Chillies are most often grown in pots or grow-bags and are a good source of vitamin C. They also stimulate the circulation and boost metabolism so give a feeling of energy.

Chillies are very similar to sweet bell peppers (Capsicum) but they have a hot fiery flavour instead of the sweet flavour associated with bell peppers.

Sowing

If sowing indoors then sow from March, if sowing outdoors than wait until April and sow under a cloche or glass to provide extra warmth and protection from any cold winds.

To sow indoors sow 3 seeds in each 1 inch cell of a seedling tray.

After germination and when the seedling has reached 4cm in height you should transplant your plants into either a 4 inch pot or into their final position. An 8 to10 inch pot is ideal. Make sure your pot has good drainage - try lining the pot with a few cm of coarse gravel and make sure the drainage hole is not blocked. 

If using grow bags then space the plants around 25cm apart.

You can give the plant a feed at time of transplanting to help them over the 'ordeal'.

Position

Make sure your Chillie plants are in a position that receives a good amount of light.

Chillies should not be in a position where the nightly temperature falls below 12 deg C. Growth will be inhibited if temperatures fall below 15 deg C.

Soil type

Chillies grow well in a well drained, fertile soil. If planting in pots be sure to use a good organic compost that will retain moisture.

Tending

Chillies should be watered regularly to avoid 'flooding' them at wide intervals. Watering 2 or 3 times a week so that the soil is damp (not soaked).

Overwatering on a regular basis will cause the roots to rot.

You will see flowers developing on the plant, leave them on and they will die after a few weeks and chillies will form.

Once the plant is producing fruit you can help it along by giving it a small amount of organic liquid fertiliser every few weeks.

When the plant is around 6 inches tall you can remove the growing tip, this will encourage the form of the plant to become more bush like.

Chillies can reach around 60cm in height and can be supported with a garden cane or other suitable stake. This may be necessary when the plant is fruiting heavily.

Harvesting

The Chillies should take a few weeks to develop and will take a further couple of weeks to change from green to red. You can harvest them when they are Green or Red. They will start to shrivel after they have been on the plant for a while but they can still be harvested and used at this stage.

The longer you leave the chillies on the plant, the hotter in flavour they will become. Leaving the chillie on the plant after it is ready for harvest will result in a decline in further yields.

If you have a large amount of chillies ready for harvest at the same time and can't use them up fast enough then harvest and freeze any excess fruits.

When preparing Chillies in your cooking recipes make sure to wash your hands thoroughly after handling chillies and their seeds as if you accidentally rub your eye with Chillie juice on them you will know about it!

Diseases

Chillies chemical composition tends to ward off most pests.