And we’re off! … its time for the first vegetable seeds to be sown.
January is too cold & dark for most seeds, but ideal for chillies.
Chilli plants like warm, sunny weather, slightly cooler nights & hate being wet. They’e originally from South America, so that gives you a good idea of the conditions they like to grow in. They need an early start for the plants to be big enough to begin fruiting in early summer, giving them the maximum amount of time to produce plenty of fruit & ripen.
How to sow chillies:
Sow them on damp seed compost in pots or small seed trays. Cover with a thin layer of vermiculite, this is a nice balance of preventing them from drying out or staying too damp, which can result in mould forming.
28 degrees C is the ideal temperature for germination so a heated propagator is best. If you don’t have one of these, place the pots on a bright window-sill & cover the pot with a plastic bag fitted snugly to the pot with a rubber band.
Lull the seedlings into the belief that they’ve popped up in South America, by watering them with tepid water.
Pot them on into their own pots when they have about 4 leaves. repot regularly as their root system grows, you’ll see roots appearing out of the drainage holes in the bottom of the pot, as they seek more space to grow.
Research the best types to buy for the way you like to use them. Some are good for curry others for Thai food. Check the eventual size if you want compact ones to grow on a window sill.
Chillies contain vitamins C & A, iron & potassium, you’ll only get small amounts at a time, but it all helps. They’re also good for your gut biome, I know, this is fairly new to me too, but it’s apparently very important & a good reason to grow some of your own vegetables. This article in The Guardian newspaper has a good explanation.
Freshly picked chillies are incomparable to any bought from a supermarket, & of course there’s no plastic packing or air miles.
I hope you like the photo here & on the home page. I took them at The Hampton Court Flower Show, on the Gabriel Ash stand, which is always beautifully styled & worth looking out for.
Check out here when the R.H.S. Garden Shows are happening this year.
all photos: Jill Anderson