Feel the burn this summerGreenthumb
Chillies are definitely getting more and more popular, even amongst people that don’t see themselves as gardeners. These chilli enthusiasts are driven by the need to make the hottest chilli sauce and are often in competition with friends and family for the title of “hottest sauce around” king. Chillies are great for your health and wellbeing as they are packed full of vitamin A and other anti-oxidants making them an effective immunity booster. Anyone can grow chillies regardless of the space available to you or the amount of green in your thumb.
What chillies need to grow.
For chillies to thrive they need as much sunlight as possible, so any spot that gets at least 6 hours sun will be perfect. They can be planted in the soil or in pots where you have the added bonus of being able to move them around. Giving your chillies the right amount of water is important to ensure that they give you an ample crop. Watering your chillies thoroughly whilst ensuring that they dry out a bit in between watering, will ensure that they give you a bumper crop of hot and spicy chillies. If you don’t water them enough and allow your chillies to wilt you run the risk of them dropping fruit or flowers. I find that the best way to check if your chilli needs water, is to stick your index finger into the soil till the second digit. If the soil is still moist, don’t water, if it feels dry then it is time to water. Never water if the soil is still wet or moist, always allow it to dry out a bit first.
Chillies are heavy feeders and will benefit from a regular feeding of Multisol K or for people that prefer using organic fertilizer, Nitrosol would be perfect. Feeding your chillies will ensure that they produce a bigger crop and will also improve the flavour. Chillies are very tender to the cold and are best grown as a summer crop. One can try and overwinter chillies by protecting them from the cold but the payoff the next summer isn’t usually worth it, with the chillies producing a lot less fruit in its second season. Time and effort spent getting them safely through winter in relation to the amount of chillies that you get isn’t worth it. It is far better to plant fresh chillies every summer which will give you a bigger crop and grow with a lot more vigour.
This year we are growing an exciting range of chillies that are available as bigger potted plants in 19cm pots that are either in flower or fruit for R49.90 and Cayenne peppers in 4L bags for R24.90. The heat of the chillies are rated on a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 having virtually no burn to 10 which will make your eyes water
Paprika is a staple for flavouring dishes across the world and is very popular in modern cooking. Paprika is highly valued for its sweet and smoky flavour with a hint of heat to it. Paprika also works great for adding colour to dishes and for garnishing. The fruit pods are long and cylindrical, making them ideal for stuffing.
Baby peppers 2/10
Baby peppers are similar to pepperdews in form and taste. They almost look like little cherry tomatoes in size and shape with a lovely peppery sweet taste. The leaves and plant are slightly bigger than other chillies. They start off green and turn red when ripe.
Definitely my personal favourite out of all the chillies. It has a mouth watering fruity flavour with a mild burn. Jalapenos are extremely versatile, working great in sauces, dishes or even used on its own.
Cayenne peppers are long slim chillies that start off green and turn red as they ripen. The ground cayenne peppers are freely available but I find that the taste is a lot better when using fresh chillies.
The famous ingredient in the Tabasco sauce which we all love. Easy to grow chilli bearing an abundance of almost white chillies that turn yellow/orange as it matures and finally ripens to red.
The Malaga or African bird’s eye chilli is where the word peri-peri comes from, originating from the Swahili word of pili-pili. The Malaga is a small chilli growing to 2.5cm in length and ripening from green to red upon maturity. Looks can be deceiving as it packs a decent punch and should not be underestimated.
Thai dragon 9/10
In Thailand they only do chillies hot and by hot I mean it will make your eyes water. The chillies are thin and pointed and can get up to 7cm in length changing from a green to a lovely velvety red colour. Chillies are an integral part of Thai cuisine where it is used to not only flavour the food but to add colour or is used as a garnish.
These chillies should come with a health warning, they are that hot. Habanero’s chillies have a fruity flavour and intense burn. They are perfect for making that inferno chilli sauce or added sparingly to dishes will provide that sought after zing.
Always wear gloves when working with chillies as they can give your skin quite a burn, especially the hotter ones. If you find you have chewed off a bit more heat than you can handle it is best to drink milk which helps to soothe the burning sensation. Time to get your chillies and start thinking of all the delicious dishes you will be creating