Guest Blogger….

I read loads of blogs, covering many different subjects. Most of them are chilli related or cover gardening in general.
One blog I go back to time after time is The Forget-me-Not Cultivation Blog written by a lady called Sophie Cussen. This lady really knows her stuff around the garden, and her blog is very well written, very informative and contains just enough humour to make it an enjoyable read.
So I was over the moon when Sophie agreed to write an article for my blog, have a read through and I hope you enjoy it….. and please make time to have a read of her blog The Forget-me-Not Cultivation Blog I’m sure you won’t be disappointed.

iggy :-)

Where are all the female chilli growers?

By Sophie Cussen – The Forget-me-not Cultivation Blog

I am a huge fan of Iggy’s blog and was really rather chuffed when he asked me to write a post for his blog. So as I pondered about what I’d write a thought came to me – why do men mostly grow chillies?

No, don’t worry this isn’t going to be any sort of feminist rant.

I’m just really curious to see how of all the plant types that can be grown in the world the chilli plant is most noticeably grown by men.

Is this because chillies = hot = eating the hottest food imaginable? Or is i just that chillies are a ‘cool’ plant to grow in the garden?

Undoubtedly if chillies represented grooming products they would be the shaving foam of the shelf. Stood there all red and green, showing full strength and vitality!

Chillies, having a variety of heat strengths mean there is always room for a little competition with a grower always looking to create the next heat level.

Maybe the attraction is that unlike other plants chillies can be grown indoors, or hydroponically meaning gadgets and technical DIY projects galore.

It’s all appears rather very manly-esk and challenging, and in some cases quite competitive (looking at some of the chilli testers on YouTube).

This is probably one of the reasons I like chillies myself, it’s not the normal placid flower or safe herb. It’s a plant that says grow me if you can and then just try and see what happens when you eat me!

Even in the media chillies, and food with chillies in have been predominantly eaten by men. Look at Scooby Doo and Shaggy. They can eat their body weight in chillies and still come back for seconds. I don’t think Daphne ever touches a chilli – ever!

So do you need to be a man to grow chillies? No, I think not. I’ve been growing chillies for about four years now. I dabbled in growing sweet peppers before that and to be quite honest I didn’t even like hot food.

Every time I had a curry I’d opt for a standard korma and as for chilli con-carne, well I used to avoid it like the plague.

Now, four years later not only would I eat a hot curry every night if I could but I actively cook with chillies and pour hot sauce over everything from boiled potatoes to vegetable stew. While the strength of the heat plays some part, any chilli connoisseur will tell you it’s as much about the flavour of the chilli and the source as it is about the heat.

Sure watching people eat hot chillies is rather amusing, especially when these big tough, muscle bound guys stand there declaring that they don’t even need milk on standby before taking a huge chunk of a Ghost chilli are found to be quite meek and mild within five minutes and crying out in pain in another ten minutes (you mean you haven’t seen this video? It’s hilarious).

So to anyone (not just women) thinking of having a go growing chillies I’d say go for it. They are no more difficult than growing tomatoes or dahlias from seed. Like fuchsias there are literally hundreds of varieties to grow ranging from the very small compact plants like the prairie fire to the rather large like the tabasco. All pods can be used in cooking, stored and preserved and I have to say some of the plants grow flowers that are really very pretty in their own right.

One other thing to remember about chilli growing. I’ve found growers to be the most helpful, most informative guys around. If I need to know what I should feed, when I should feed, what to do with dropping flowers, or what varieties to grow the community (of which there is a very large crowd) help me every time. Iggy’s blog is very much a casing point.



Quadgrow To Wilma Conversion…….

This is something I decided to do a while back, convert one of my Quadgrows into a 4 pot Wilma system. I was going to wait until the end of the growing season to do it, ready for next season….. however, I bought the bits I needed, and went ahead and did it today :-)

The “bits” included, a pump, some pipe 2mm & 13 mm, two nipple connectors, stop end and fast flow drippers and a bag of clay pellets.

parts

The first job, was to take the plants out of the Quadgrow, and wash the roots off in warm water.

Quadgrow

Next I fitted the pump into the reservoir and joined all the pipe work up, filled the reservoir with 30 litres of water with nutrients added and tested the drippers.

pipework

When I was happy it was running correctly with no leaks, I washed the clay pebbles, filled the pots and put the plants back in.

wilma

It works a treat ! And it should improve the plants and therefore produce more pods….hopefully !

The good thing is, I haven’t actually altered the design in any way, so still have a fully functional Quadgrow if ever I want to change back ;-)
I’ve also decided to convert the other Quadgrows at the end of the season….can’t wait !

iggy



Liquid Gold….

A couple of weeks ago, a few of my plants were looking like they needed a little extra nutrition. Instead of racing off to the garden centre and spending even more hard earned cash, I decided to use something I tried a few years ago…. Liqud Gold….. yes folks… URINE !!!

Liquid Gold

 
I know a few of you will think Yuk ! That’s gross !!! However, we have all used horse manure, bat poo & chicken poo in the past without a second thought.
Human urine is absolutely sterile when it leaves the body and therefore free from bacteria,in fact it’s so sterile that it can be drunk when fresh, and makes a very good fertiliser, urine is one of the fastest-acting, most excellent sources of nitrogen, phosphorous, potassium and trace elements for plants. It does need diluting at a ratio of about 10:1, i.e 10 parts water to 1 part urine, otherwise it would burn the roots of your plants.
SO I fed it to the plants a few times, and the new growth is coming through lovely, as you can see in these Two pics:
7 pot Brain
7pot Brain

That aside, everything else is going pretty much to plan with the plants, they have all had a good trim to thin out the foliage, they are being fed weekly with Tomorite and most of them are carrying their first small pods. These pods may be small, but they still have terrific heat and once they are picked, the plants should produce proper sized pods.
All in all Im happy with their progress, and it is only June so there’s still plenty of time for them to grow dozens of pods…..hopefully !! All we need now is some sunshine ;-)

Also as an udate…. my 2 year old Orange Hab Bonchi has quite a few pods on it, curiously…last year it produced 3 full sized pods, and this year it has produced so far 7 smaller pods:

Bonchi

Anyway….here’s a few pics of some of the plants for you to look at, any questions….get in touch.
4 pot wilma

7 pot barrackpore

Carolina Reaper

Morouga

Thanks for reading :-)

iggy



GROWING MEDIA & NUTRITION

One topic that has cropped up quite a few times in the last couple of weeks, in conversation and on the Firefoods forum, is what is the best growing media for chilli plants ?
There are loads of different types, from specialist composts to clay balls….peat free, coir etc etc.
Now some people will have their favourites, which have produced good results for them and will stick with that type, and I’m talking about the hobbyist grower now, not the commercial grower, who will have different needs and costs to take into account.
However, for someone who is just starting in the hobby, it can be quite daunting deciding which one is best for them, and they will get different answers from different growers.

In the past I have used loads of different types, and had excellent & poor results,and if you are only growing a few plants, then I would suggest using the best compost you can afford, but when your growing 100+ plants it can work out very expensive to use a high grade compost.
For that reason, this year I am using a cheap Multi Purpose Compost ( MCP ), which I’ve used a lot in the past, and will rely on feeding and Nutrition to get the best from my plants.

This brings us onto another topic for debate……..what is the best thing to feed your plants ???? …. Do an internet search and you will find dozens of specialist feeds created for chilli plants, and some are really good. Again, people will have their own favourites and opinion, and yes…I’ve used some of these specialist feeds and had varying results, but this year along with MPC I will be going back to using good old TOMORITE.
tomorite

It may lack a few trace ingredients compared to some available chilli feeds, but it’s cheap and goes a long way, and can give excellent results. Some growers advise using it at half strength and others use it full strength, I use it half strength in the early stages of the plant’s growth and then at full strength when the plants are flowering and podding.
Your plants will tell you if they are happy with how they’re being fed, nice green healthy looking leaves means they are getting the right amount of nutrition, however if the plants look weak and the leaves are discoloured, this can mean they are not getting enough nutrition, or too much…which can be just as detrimental to a plants health. Then it’s just a matter of adjusting the strength of your chosen feed until the plants are looking healthy again. A bit of practise is all it takes to get the best from your compost & feed, and chilli plants are not that fussy…..so it’s cheap & cheerful for me this year, and I’ll share the results with you later in the season ;-)

Happy growing !!

iggy :-)



Howdy folks ….!!!!

As you know, my season started on Halloween night when I made my first sowings…..not a lot has really happened between then and now, except for lovingly caring for, and feeding my young plants. Apart from the fact that I lost a full tray of seedlings over Christmas !!! Other things going on, and I forgot to water them under the lights…. a harsh lesson :-(

The plants that I overwintered, have survived and are growing well.

over wintered

purple bhut jolokia

chocolate bhut jolokia

However, this time of year is when I really start getting a buzz, because its time for the plants to go into the greenhouses !! :-)

So all the Hydro equipment has been fetched out of storage, and set up…

GS100

Also set up is a 4-pot Wilma and 3 Quadgrows

And the plants placed in them, I have a heater on hand….just in case of any late frosts !

chilli plants

The remaining plants have been potted into their final pots, and put in the large greenhouse.

Here’s a few pics… I’m not much of a photrographer, but I do my best ;-)
I might have to think about starting a bit later for next season, the plants were ready to go out well before the weather was ready….and as a result a lot of the lower leaves fell off, but all new growth is fine :-)

These 4 plants are overwintered

over wintered chillis

And here’s some more…

Hydro Greenhouse

infinity plant

pimenta de neyde

Naga morich

fatalii

chilli plants 2013

Greenhouse

Orange Habanero

Morouga

chocolate Bhut

Hopefully, I’ll be able to keep on top of things now, and be able to update on a regular basis….including more pics, if there’s anything you would like to ask about my plants or growing methods etc, then please get in touch.

Happy growing !!!

iggy :-)