The Chilli Challenge March Update
A progress report from Derek today for the Chilli Challenge March Update.
Hi, Derek here.
For sowing the seeds I used John Innes No1 compost in individual fibre pots, with the seeds placed on the surface and then enough fine grit just to cover them. The electric propagator was kept damp creating a warm, humid environment. Whilst reliable on the whole it has been difficult to balance the needs of the first varieties to germinate with those that were slower, as once germinated the seedlings prefer to be in a free-air environment and don’t need the humidity.
The other challenge is that window cill space and therefore good quality light is in short supply. There have been a lot of grey overcast days and our windows are east, west facing. We’ve had to move things around a lot to try avoid seedlings getting ‘leggy’.
Germination seems to have fallen one of three groups. The first group, the Cayenne and the Aji Limon, germinated very quickly, in a week or so. The second group, the Ancho and Vampire, took around two weeks. Finally the Hot Wax, Carib and Habañero I would put into a third group with only the Hot Wax coming to anything. A single Carib germinated but then subsequently died back.
We sowed a second batch of seeds on the 1st March. One Habañero has germinated and is looking healthy but still no Carib.
I’m not sure why these were mostly a failure, probably more heat and possibly more light were needed. Next year may well see an upgrade from the Stewart propagators used this time, I’m also looking into artificial light sources like the Sunblaster T5, that we saw at The Edible Food Show last week. They were being used on a stand to demonstrate an irrigation system and are from America, I can’t find a UK supplier yet so that will be a work in progress.
In the second lot of seeds I also added in some Kung Pao from the South Devon Chilli Farm, it’s a hybrid and is such an easy grower, less than one week to germinate, producing a lovely bushy plant that will grow outdoors with little or no attention and some Friggitello, a very mild chilli from Franci seeds.
All the plants have now been repotted using John Innes No2 and are in the cold frame at the allotment. This was important as we were away skiing and we need someone else to keep an eye on them for six or seven days. The cold-frame worked well, with its twin-wall polycarbonate windows which allows the light in but not too much heat. The heat that is captured during the day stays locked-in. The temperatures ranging between 5ºC at night and up to 30ºC during the day compared that with the greenhouse at -2ºC and 38ºC during the same period.
The growth rate has slowed down a bit in the cooler environment but all the plants, around thirty in total, are looking very healthy.
Thanks for reading.
So as Derek says we’ve had a bit of a fail with the Carib and Habañero, rather than attempt a third sowing I’m going to try and buy some plants in. So if anyone can recommend a supplier I’d appreciate it.
I’ve put some links below to blogs that are also talking about chillies and if you’re growing them or know someone who is then please feel free to add a link to any blog posts in the comments.