Growing chilli peppers

by Adam Pasco

How tastes change. Going back five years, I hardly remember ever cooking with chillies, but today I use them nearly every week.

Chilli 'Medusa'How tastes change. Going back five years, I hardly remember ever cooking with chillies, but now I use them nearly every week. They're so easy to grow from seed, but you can buy young plants from garden centres, like the pretty 'Medusa' (pictured) I bought last year. It was attractive enough to sit on the window sill as a compact pot plant, but had the added benefit of producing small chillies, too.

One of our favourite recipes is fragrant Thai prawns, and although the recipe suggests using just one fresh red chilli, we never find this is enough. Each time I make it I add more chillies first two, then three but despite being really tasty it isn't quite hot enough. Perhaps the lime, coriander, ginger and lemongrass counteract the heat of the chilli.

This year a new chilli variety caught my eye. It's called 'Bhut Jolokia Fiery Furnace', and claims to be the world's hottest chilli.

The heat of chillies is measured on the Scoville scale, and this variety comes in at an impressive 1,000,000. Compare this with some other popular chillies:

Hungarian Hot Wax: around 9,000

Tabasco: around 50,000

Scotch Bonnet: around 200,000

I sowed 'Bhut Jolokia Fiery Furnace' seeds a couple of weeks ago, and the seedlings are up. By August or early September I hope to be picking my first chillis, but do I dare eat them? Perhaps my delicious fragrant Thai prawns are actually fine as they are.

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Gardeners' World Web User 20/04/2009 at 16:18

I planted several varieties nearly 2 weeks ago and I am still waiting for them to show. They are lovely plants to look at, I freeze or dry the chillies and use them all year round.

Gardeners' World Web User 21/04/2009 at 19:36

I have sown 2 lots of Chilli Seeds, the first didn't take at all, lets hope the 2nd lot will. Here's hoping, this is my first year with Chilli's and no success so far!!!

Gardeners' World Web User 21/04/2009 at 20:10

I grew Chilli's last year and had a huge harvest, I dried most of them and put some in olive oil, had a great success. This year I have tried different varieties of Chilli and look forward to seeing how they do !

Gardeners' World Web User 22/04/2009 at 08:10

Do be patient, as I've found germination can take 4 weeks or longer for some varieties. While some of my chilli seeds germinated in 2-3 weeks, one one seed of my 'Bhut Jolokia' has germinated from seed sown on March 25. So at least I'll have one plant of the World's Hottest Chilli to grow this year!

Gardeners' World Web User 22/04/2009 at 09:15

I have had real problems with getting my seeds to germinate this year I have now got about 6 different plants after seeding about 30 pots. I am going to try a second seeding if it’s not too late? I had loads last year and found that the best way to keep them was straight from the plant to the freezer. I then chop them up still frozen and add to dishes as required.

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