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A basket of fire chilli.

A basket of fire chilli.

How to turn up the heat at a chilli time of the year

Richard Wright

[email protected]

Friday, November 24, 2017 - 14:04

THE weather turning chilly often means thoughts turn to chilies.

Not only are they super warming at the time when you need it, but they also mature in autumn through to winter.

On the right windowsill or conservatory there is also the chance chilies will make it through to next year and come again with their bounty.

It helps if you pot them on into fresh compost to give them a bit of a boost and keep them in a warm, light place.

This year, I raised a pepper collection of plug plants from mail order specialists D. T. Brown and they performed — and continue to fruit — very well.

Pre-eminent among them was basket of fire.

This is a wonderfully productive and decorative chili pepper with a bushy habit, making it ideal for a decorative container or hanging basket.

Mine were smothered with small, hot chilies, which matured to a bright shade of scarlet.

Plants show good tolerance to cool weather and will continue to fruit outside well into the autumn, and even longer under glass.

These powerful peppers have a Scoville heat rating of around 80000shu, and once harvested can be dried or used fresh from the plant.

While they are small, they are not as deadly as the world’s most powerful pepper.

With a pointed tail fiery and red wrinkled form, everything about the Carolina reaper shouts: "Don't eat me."

The Carolina reaper is officially the world's hottest pepper as ranked by the Guinness Book of Records.

This pepper was bred for heat and knocks basket of fire into a cocked hat.

It has a Scoville rating of over 1.5 million and peaks at 2.2 million.

It is a cross between a Pakastani naga and a red habanero, and is said to have flavour as well as heat — if you can still feel your tongue.

D. T. Brown’s collection for 2018 consists of four plants, one of each variety:

In addition to basket of fire, there is 'longhorn', a cayenne type, producing attractive, long curled fruits with a sweet and pungent flavour. Early to fruit and reasonably compact, it is ideal for pots.

Sweet sweetonia — an attractive tasty ‘snack pepper’ producing super sweet fruit, which ripens from green to orange, red or chocolate. It should be a popular introduction to peppers for children.

Sweet red king — huge peppers up to 5ins wide and 7ins long, making them perfect for stuffing. They will grow well in a sheltered position outdoors as well as in a greenhouse.

There is a quantity discount available, so it is worth sharing an order with a friend.

They will be available from April next year but, if you want to get cracking on the best and hottest chilies from seed, start sowing indoors as early as January.

Chilies need plenty of warmth to germinate so invest in a heated propagator for the windowsill.

Sow pepper seeds on the surface of a moist, free-draining seed compost and cover with a fine sprinkling of compost or vermiculite. Once germinated, chillies can be moved to a warm, sunny windowsill or a heated greenhouse.

Take care to keep the compost evenly moist but not soggy because chilies can rot out.

Chilies contain a chemical called capsaicin, tasting hot because it stimulates the nerve endings in the mucous membranes.

Oddly, it is an effect that is addictive.

Mr Fothergill’s is already thinking of a chili Christmas with attractive gift packs included in a range that should appeal to children.

They include chili pepper grow kits producing fiery red chillies or juicy medium-hot green chillies.

They are in a patented GroBox and some of the other range comes on GroMats, which are pre-sown with flowers or vegetables and can be cut to size.

Mr Fothergill’s range of seeds and kits is available from garden centres, supermarkets and leading DIY stores and at www.mr-fothergills.co.uk

 


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