Seen at the Festival of the Tree

...if you would be happy all your life, plant a garden ~ Chinese proverb

Monday, 5 January 2015

My Chilly Chilli Challenge

A chilli plant posing on our bedroom windowsill
I love how the red of this pot matches my fiery chillis. They brighten up the New Year gloom too. 

My first gardening project of 2015 is to try and overwinter this chilli plant. I tried in vain last year with the 'Basket of Fire' plants I grew, but unlike the one owned by my friend Lu in Totnes, sadly they didn't make it into 2014. As you can see, this year's attempt is faring better *crosses fingers*.

Our milder October may have been a factor in this plant's survival. It started flowering again and some of the resultant fruits are now slowly turning a fiery red. I also started with a shop bought specimen of unknown variety which I fully expected to keel over. It's lost plenty of leaves, but when I inspected and trimmed it last month, I noticed there were still plenty of healthy looking clusters of leaves on the lower part of the plant.

My ongoing care regime is to water occasionally and move the plant off the windowsill when particularly icy nights are forecast. Although we have double glazing, night time temperatures can still plummet to chilly depths behind the curtains.

Around March/April time my plan is to pick off any remaining fruits, trim the plant back to the healthiest clusters of leaves, re-fresh the compost (or re-pot if necessary), give it a good feed and start regular watering *crosses fingers again*.

Have you successfully overwintered any chilli plants? Please share your top tips for success in the comments, or tell me about your first project of 2015.

13 comments:

  1. Oh good luck VP! I must confess to not being a chilli fan taste wise although I do think that the plants are most attractive. It sounds as if you are giving your plant plenty of tlc so it should keep ticking over. I imagine that you are keeping your eyes peeled for the appearance of greenfly etc. I spotted some in the greenhouse on cuttings just before Christmas! My first project for 2015 is to sort out the seed boxes and make any necessary seed orders.

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    1. Greenfly was the downfall of my 'Basket of Fire' plant, so yes, I'm keeping a lookout for them!

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  2. I bought a jalapeno from the local garden shop for 50p at the end of the summer. It had never been moved out of its 3" pot, although it did have three or four fruits on it. I repotted it, cut it back, and it's growing again now. It even has some buds on it. I hoping that overwintering will give an earlier crop, I find chillies take so long to grow from seed and flower that the season is almost over and I'm still waiting for them to ripen. I shall look forward to seeing how your plant does.

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    1. Yes, chillis along with peppers like a nice long, warm growing season just like we had last year. My windowsill is a substitute for the greenhouse where this plant should really be. Like you, I'm hoping I'll get a head start for this year's crop.

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  3. I have just been reading about overwintering chili plants as I have three chili padron in pots in the coolest room of the house. One I might sacrifice to the caterpillar that is living on it, I'm getting quite curious as to what it is, didn't know there were any that liked chili leaves? Otherwise my first job of the year is to sow artichokes, hopefully an early start will give me fruits and not just leaves this year.

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    1. So this post is good timing Helen :) I've not come across caterpillars liking chilli plants - perhaps it's another survival mechanism undergoing development ;)

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  4. I didn't know you could overwinter chilli plants. Maybe not here in the north. We're only just getting into growing chillis in our allotment growhouses and we've not quite got it right yet. Last year was better than 2013 which was our first year for them. The few we've had I've let my daughter take as she and her family are more into chillis than we are.

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    1. I think the key here is the species name, Margaret. I don't think there'd be much hope with annuum (includes cayenne and jalopenos), but frutescens (includes tabasco, piri pir and thai peppers) and chinense (includes naga, habanero and scotch bonnet), should be a better bet. I suspect my chilli must fall into one of the latter 2 types, as did 'Basket of Fire', I believe.

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  5. Best of luck to overwinter your chilly. I am afraid I have no tips. I have never had one in my garden. Maybe it will help if I keep my fingers crossed ! Groetjes, Hetty

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    1. Thanks Hetty - all finger crossing is welcome :)

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  6. Good luck with the chillis. I've quite often overwintered them - usually only for one year but its lovely when they have fruit on them in December. See my chilli post on my blog for December http://reclaimingparadise.wordpress.com/2014/12/13/its-chilli/
    Mine have also had greenfly - I brush them off with a paintbrush over the kitchen sink - it's strangely satisfying!

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    1. Hello there and welcome! So far this plant hasn't had greenfly *crosses fingers for the third time*. I was doing a lot of squishing with last year's plant until I put it out for the summer - the hoverflies and lacewings had a field day and hoovered them up!

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  7. Oooh,good luck! Sounds as if it is all going well so far. I managed to over winter three plants last year, I left them unpruned and lightly watered in our unheated conservatory. I got terrible aphids but they did grow well once I had cut them hard back and fed them in late March. They are currently languishing in the unheated greenhouse, and I suspect this might be a challenge too far...

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