Tuesday, 5 April 2016

Chillies - Amazingly resilient YET difficult to grow

My history with growing chillies has been a lazy gardener one. My mother gave me a plant when I first moved into my own house and it seemed to survive not being watered, looking like the dead then reviving in spring with minimal care. In fact, after too much minimal care the poor plant did move on to plant heaven.

My next lot of chillies drowned when I left them at my sister's house to be looked after when I was on holiday. They could not be resuscitated - I suspect the roots rotted or grew fungus.

Then I had a gift of two chillies from hubby's secretary. They were in pretty ornamental pots with no drainage and they too suffered from drowning. However, I took them out and dried them off, and they looked very miserable and sad and I thought they were lost. However, in the spring a few leaves began to show and they came back to life, only to be brought to the brink of death once again when I transplanted them to the side of the fence hoping they would never suffer from being drowned again, but the gardener thought they were weeds and beheaded them with the whipper snipper just 10cm above their base. Amazingly, they grew back with a vengeance and were tall and flowering!

However, they had a near brush with death again.

Hubby was setting up some irrigation and doing some digging and one of the chilli plants "fell over". I'm not sure HOW that happened, but here I was with an uprooted 40cm tall plant who had been lying in the hot sun all afternoon. It looked very sad. I quickly planted it in a separate spot and heavily watered it and fortunately it seems to have taken. There was a notable paucity of lengthy roots which tends to make me think the plant was yanked out rather than "fell over". Anyway, it's still going.

In between all these traumatic chilli events, I had been given some Trinidad Scorpion seeds and Scotch Bonnet seeds by my sister who was hoping we could grow them. I was unable to germinate them, and I even bought another batch of chilli seeds hoping to try again, but remained unsuccessful. I think I'm not keeping the seeds hot enough - they need to be about 28 degrees Celsius to germinate.

So I decided to try and BUY a fully grown plant so I could get my chillies, and found one on Gumtree - except this was a full on BUSH, not a little 20cm plant.

It was difficult to transport and I was using a friend's car, and we had to put the plant sideways to get it into the car and of course all the soil and water tipped out into the carpeted boot, much to my friend's dismay. His poor brand new car...

I also ended up with a bunch of freebies. I got some Habaneros and some Jalapenos and they more than made up for my poor uprooted plant. So now I have 8 extra chilli plants! The seller was pleased to see that the chillies were going to a good caring home (how could he tell that by looking at me!) and wanted me to take some more of his chillies or they would be destroyed as he was moving interstate. He also told me that the chilli likes to be kept moist but not flooded. There was one fruit on the bush, and a number of flowers too. So it looks like I'll be able to harvest a few super hot chillies in the next month or so.

My sister is excited that I have a plant and is looking forward to getting some chillies. If I have too many I might have to look at making my own chilli sauce!