Friday 11 February 2011

Chill Season 2011 is open

I wasn’t blogging this time last year, but I did post a lot of photos of chillies to tumblr. This year I am blogging, but I’m going to keep the chilli posts to one a month. I promise.

The Crew

Vitopod

I was lucky enough to receive a vitopod propagator this christmas. This changes everything for me this year, because now the plants can live in a 27 degree climate from January onwards. Don’t let the photo deceive you, this is a monster! These propagators are brilliant, they keep the heat evenly distributed and are controlled by an external device ( though in this picture I’ve got it inside )

My Vitopod

250w Maxibright CFL ( Blue )

Chillies like heat, but they also need light. Thanks to low angle of the sun and the monster trees at the back of the house, the greenhouse gets no direct sunlight until April. I’m sure this was a factor in last years late harvest. So this year I’ve got them under a CFL growlight. I’ve went with CFL for two very practical reasons. The first is that it costs less to run that a HID lamp and the second is that I don’t have to deal with the heat that a HID generates. I’m sure a HID would give better results, but it’s just a little over the top for my humble needs.

For the record, I didn’t want to buy from Greens Horticulture because they’ve deliberately disabled right click. I emailed them about it and received an email back along the lines of “people were using our content on their descriptions on ebay”, which whilst I understand the merchants concern for plagiarism, I’m still at a loss to see why I lose my right click when using their site. I digress….

Here’s a rather crap photo of the light in action with the propagator open and the reflective sheeting pinned back. Health and safety officers look away now. It’s being help up with washing line, suspended on part of an old weights bench and the light is wedged into a bit of wood that I had lying around. How lo-fi is that? I saved about 30 on buying a reflector and just buying reflective sheeting instead.

CFL - Not endorsed by the health and safety office

I lined the inside of the propagator with reflective sheeting to make the most of the light that I’m pumping into it

Grow my lovelies grow

The Cast

This year here’s what I’m growing —

Pimento De Padron

These have very little heat, but they make the best accompaniment to a meal. Any visitors to tapas bars will be able to vouch for me on this. Sear them off in a pan will olive oil until the skin blisters and then sprinkle with rock salt - delicious. Needless to say I’m growing a boat load of these so I’ve got them on tap for the summer.

Pimento de Padron by metrovampire

Photo by Cafrizel

Caldaro Jalepeno & Apricot

These are both from Sea Spring Seeds and I’m growing the Caldaro Jalepenos because they’re early to fruit and because they’re a little on the unusual side. The apricots I’m very much looking forward to because they’re supposed to have all the “habanero-ey fruity flavour” without the heat. Don’t fear, I’ve not gone soft, but not everyone likes the heat and that makes cooking with chillies difficult. This way I should get the best of both worlds!

Gold Cone, Twilight & Masquerade

I wanted to grow some ornamentals this year, I’ve got plenty of space around the decking and they’ll add plenty of unusual twists to some of the dishes that I’ll be cooking. I’ll have gold, purple, yellow & red chillies to play with.

Super Chile & Joe’s Long Cayenne

How can you not see something called Super Chile and not grow it? The original plan for these was to crack them into an NFT tank. This may or may not happen, it probably will, but may not. Either way, they’re meant to be prolific, hence I’d thought I’d crack them into a NFT. I’m growing these so we’ve got a stupid amount to freeze and make powder with at the end of the season. The same plan applies to the long cayenne.

Dorset Naga & Black Naga.

Firstly, I bought the Black Naga on a whim, a two pound punt. I’m under no illusion that they may turn out to be chocolate bhuts, but there is also the possibility that they’ll be something new. I don’t really care, I’ll enjoy growing them and I don’t feel in the slightest bit silly for buying them.

I’m growing more Dorset Naga’s because last year, they were my absolute favourite, there is no taste that matches them. Bhuts come close ( very close ), but they don’t match them. Especially when they’re green. I’ll be picking more this year when they’re green.

Progress

I always love to see photos of chillies growing so here’s the photos of mine so far.

January 13th

Grow my lovelies grow

What’s Next

Once the seedlings hit the bottom of the rock wool plugs I’m going to transfer them into small pots. Should I decide to go down the NFT route then I’ll take a super Chile and Long Cayenne / Dorset Naga and drop them into larger rock wool plugs in preparation for their magnificent new home.

What I did last year, which was probably a bad idea, was to keep them in really small pots, before transferring them to the custom planters that I made for them. I suspect that having three to to planter and not giving the roots much depth held the plants back a bit and it would have been impossible to fix any over watering without seriously stunting their progress. So this year each plant gets it own pot, and I’ll be progressing them from one size to the next. They’ll be no crazy custom planters. This has the added benefit of being able to keep the plants in the propagator for as long as possible, until the night time temperatures are high enough to allow the plants to be all they can be.