Over the past few years I've experimented with a few varieties, both growing from seed and purchasing small plants from garden centres or garden shows in the spring/early summer. Varieties such as Hungarian Hotwax, Scotch Bonnet, Habanero and Cherry Bomb have all provided me with a small supply of fiery fruits but on the whole the plants have never seemed entirely comfortable nor have they matched vigour and the supplies of fruit provided to me by a variety which happened to catch my eye and I grew for fun and interest rather than anything else.
My most successful chilli growing has been with the variety, Razzamatazz (Mr.Fothergills). The seeds are not the cheapest perhaps - last year's cost £2.05 for 50 seeds (which is two year's sowings worth) - but the germination rates have been very high providing me with as many plants as I needed to fill my greenhouse bench, spare windowsills and spares to give away. I don't have a heated greenhouse or use heated propagators. Nevertheless, sowings in late February or early March, on a warm window sill or covered in my unheated greenhouse, have been successful and provided me with seedlings to pot on up until May when they go into their larger pots* to remain until their fruits are fully ripened in September or October. By mid summer the fruits start to appear in a variety of colours (including orange, green, yellow and purple) finally ripening to a rich red providing you can resist the temptation to use them earlier. The chillies are as hot as most people require and have proved perfect on pizzas and as the fiery ingredient in other regular meals such as curries and chilli-con-carne. They are also suitable for adding to jars of home made pickled onions and six or eight added to a kilo of ripe tomatoes, garlic, red wine vinegar and brown sugar make the most amazing chilli jam - a perfect accompaniment to a toasted cheddar sandwich for a 'chilly' January weekend lunch. Storing couldn't be easier as they can be dried or simply placed in a plastic pot in the freezer until needed.
Hmmm time for that sandwich.
Thanks for reading,
* I've found 6" pots are as good as 9" for these plants with a free draining gritty medium. Up until last year I never went smaller than a 9" pot for chillies but last year I posed a question via Twitter to Monty Don (@TheMontyDon) about the optimum size pot for chilli plants and received the succinct reply 'rather smaller than you might think'.