Chili’s: cycle of fire

Not a Johnny Cash song, but how to take this easy crop from seed, to plant, to seed.

ChilliOne chili will give you a good supply of spice and I’d suggest these pretty plants as a first for beginners, or a priority for those with little space.

Chilies need an early start, sow now and till mid March with three seeds to a 9cm pot. They need to be somewhere warm to give them a kick start – such as an airing cupboard. When green shows move them to a sunny windowsill.

Transfer each plant to a pot of its own when they get two pairs of leaves: gently ease out the roots with a spoon handle and, holding a leaf, lower the seedling into a 9cm pot of compost. You need to keep repotting as the plant grows, until they are in 25cm pots.

Being hungry, heat lovers they will appreciate lukewarm water in the mornings, and tomato feed.Small chilli plant

All types of peppers can cross pollinate if there are insects around, where there are none indoors there is no risk of this. However if several varieties are open to the outside you will have to cover the plants with a fine net (think plant mosquito net), to keep the seeds true to the original.

To save seeds you extract the seeds from a well ripened chili and put them somewhere warm till you can snap one in half, then pack and label ready for next year.

Copyright Diane Holness. originally published in the Pigeon magazine Feb 17