Blog: A bit of midsummer heat – overwintering plants well worth the effort…
I’ve really got into growing chillies. From my first efforts at growing Loco several years ago, I now have several varieties with heat ranging from mild to searingly super hot!
They’re much easier to grow than I thought and I could kick myself that I didn’t have a go earlier. I’ve even started overwintering chilli plants, which means you get a much faster start the next season and is why my plants are forming fruit now.
If you’re new to chillies, it’s not all about heat but flavour too – the heat is measured in Schoville Heat Units (SHU), ranging from 0 (sweet bell pepper) to the world’s hottest, the Carolina Reaper at more than 2,000,000 SHU!
There really is a chilli for everyone, even if you don’t like heat. I don’t like really hot chillies but love the richness or fruitiness some varieties can give to I can really recommend the huge selection from www.realseeds.co.uk, which also has some great growing tips.
It seems rather apt to be writing about them on the longest day – let me introduce them in descending order of heat!
Trinidad Moruga Scorpion (SHU over 1,400,000)
Formerly the hottest chilli in the world and the seeds were a gift to my stepson, who likes his food HOT!
During tests of 125 plants, the huge amounts of capsaicin (the active ingredient which makes chillies hot) burned through 4 pairs of latex gloves used by the pickers!
Despite the insane heat, it is recognised as having a good flavour, so can be used safely in tiny amounts. They do come with warnings – wear gloves to chop them and when washing cooking equipment, rinse first in cold water, then wash.
The plants can reach up to 70cm, although mine isn’t, currently growing on Gary’s south-facing office windowsill. It’s been flowering for a couple of weeks and has actually set its first fruit. The bumpy, 4cm fruits start off green, ripening to a vivid red.
Razzamatazz (SHU 5,000-20,000)
This is the one I’d recommend as a great all-rounder and pot plant for a sunny windowsill.
It grows to a compact 60cm tall with attractive dark green/violet leaves and sets an abundance of upward-pointing fruits very easily.
The chillies are 3-5cm long, starting off green and purple, which ripen from yellow through to orange then red, providing a multi-coloured display as they ripen.
Biquinho Red (SHU 1,000)
Another pretty and prolific plant – biquinho is Portuguese for little beak as the chillies are said to resemble small bird beaks.
In reality, they’re more like red teardrops that hang from the plant like small lanterns. They are small (3.5cm x 2.5cm) but are borne in large quantities.
They’re often preserved in jars or used on pizzas, as the fruits are sweet and fruity once ripened to red.
My unknown ‘gift’ plant
I always call this one Bev’s chilli after the friend who gave it to me! It was going to be thrown out after an office move so I took it in.
It’s a very useable red mild-medium long chilli, about 5cm long, producing fruit right through until November.
New this year: Palivec (SHU 500-800)
Grown from seed, this is a new addition from the Czech Republic, a long ‘goats horn’ style chilli, which starts out pale green and ripens to a dark red.
It is very productive with a good flavour, growing about 60cm x 30cm. I was drawn to it because you can adapt the heat as the heat is mostly concentrated in the seeds.
That’s my chilli family – go on, buy yourself a plant for a sunny windowsill or give them a go from seed next year.