Think of a traditional, delicious and more importantly, a ‘spicy’ dish and picture the first thing that comes to your mind. Read more to learn about this.
Yes, you cannot help but accept that you are thinking of a bunch of fresh chilies or even its powder, which is derived from dried chilies. Imagine how ‘tasteless’ the world would be, if it were chilly bereft!
Chilly plants require relatively warm climates, preferably Asiatic or South American tropical type. That does not require you to jump start your chilly plants indoors or under glass, if you are in a cool region. The earlier you plant your chilly seeds, the better they tend to grow. If you belong to a cool region, it would be great if you plant the seeds during January or February and once cold withers away, you would be free to let your new plants experience the sunlight! And they would definitely add a bit of hotness’ to your palate during the forthcoming summers! Exciting, isn’t it?
Seeds are seeds and chilly is no exception. You have to germinate it the way other seeds germinate. All it needs is a warm, dark environment, moisture and timely care. To assist the germination, a cotton roll may prove handy. Simply, place the seeds between damp cotton roll (not wet) and keep it near a warm space that does not have sunlight.
Ideally, new leaf sprouts would be observed within a week. Remember, different varieties require different times to germinate. For instance, Habanero peppers could take 3- 4 weeks, Apache or Jalapeno: 1- 3 weeks, and Cayenne will sprout much quicker. Sure, your patience will be tested!!
Once germinated, the interesting step of planting the seedlings comes into play. Place the seedlings in an area that receives ample sunlight and ensure adequate watering. In cooler regions, incandescent lights should be used to provide for lack of sunlight. The exposure to this light must be about 10 to 11 hours. Plan your seedlings such that there is at least a few centimeters distance between each plant. Planting them in a pot would be a good idea. When they grow out of the pot, buy your plants a bigger one or place them outside.
Planting your chilly plants in a pot enables you to switch your plant in and out of the room as required by the weather. Keep in mind, though, that the first time you put your plants out in the sunlight, they should remain there for a brief period only. They must be gradually hardened-off, like in the case of transplanting. Beware of pests, such as aphids, during this period as young plants are more susceptible and have a lower tolerance to pests and diseases. Constantly monitor your plants during this period.
When you reach past the germination and first growth phase, the ultimate requirement of sufficient nutrition and water is the order of the day. Initially, you can nourish your plants with tap water (assuming your tap water of fair hardness and no heavy metals) twice or thrice a week. At higher temperatures, watering can be increased to account for the additional water loss. A little amount of liquid tomato food at the time of watering can do wonders for the chilies to come up.
Also, if you observe that your plants lack natural pollination (not many bees buzzing around in your garden), hand pollination is the way to go. To achieve pollination by hand, get an artist’s paint brush ((any brush will do!) and rub the pollens out of the flowers and transfer them to a new one.
Hopefully in time, this inseparable vegetable can set your day to day dishes ablaze!