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Latest posts by Italophile

Chilli problem

Posted: 03/09/2013 at 10:29

The necrotic area looks like it rings the fruit, a bit too extensive for scorching.

Chilli problem

Posted: 03/09/2013 at 10:11

Have you been fertilising? What with? Excessive nitrogen can produce that result.

Tumbling tomato blues

Posted: 03/09/2013 at 10:05

The leaves turned blue? Is it too late to post a photo?

Black Spot on Roses - New Gardener

Posted: 03/09/2013 at 10:03

There's not much you can do at this point in the season, Gemma. You certainly can't treat the problem. If you're going to spray against black spot it has to be on a preventive basis, very early in the season, before the fungal spores arrive on the leaves.

You might as well take off all the affected leaves and destroy them. Most importantly, collect any affected leaves already on the ground - from all the plants - and destroy them too. Bin them or burn them. A lot of black spot problems arise from diseased leaves left on the ground.

The plant should come back next spring. And, if you want to spray against the disease, do it early.

Hot Peppers

Posted: 03/09/2013 at 09:30

Stacey, if you've got insects around, and plants in close proximity, the odds of cross-pollination are high. The same applies to chillies and toms.

The only way to guarantee purity of heirloom (pure) seed is to "bag" the flowers prior to them opening. Same procedure with both chillies and toms.

You can make your own bags out of tulle or fine curtain netting with a sewn-in drawstring. My wife used to for me. These days I just cut the foot ends out of those short stocking things and use them. Just make sure the stocking is as light a colour as possible.

When a flower appears, but before it opens, slip the bag over the flower and tie it securely but not too tightly. Let the flower open first and it's vulnerable to insects. Here's a bag in place on a Cherokee Purple tomato plant that I'm using for saving seeds. In this case, I've bagged a cluster of flowers:


Just keep checking inside the bag to see whether fruit has set. As soon as the fruit has set you can remove the bag. There's no more possibility of cross-pollination. If fruit doesn't set for whatever reason, move the bag on to another flower. But don't move the bag between varieties for obvious reasons.

Make sure you identify the fruit that you know is pure. As the plant grows, the pure fruit will change position and it's too easy to forget which one you bagged. I tie something next to the pure fruit to identify it as pure.


One thing. Hotter varieties of chillies don't need any different treatment to mild or even sweet varieties. The heat is in the variety's genes.


Marmande tomatoes

Posted: 03/09/2013 at 08:09

SF, I'm still not sure what you mean by beefy or dense. Can you compare this year's lot with your last successful crop in a bit more detail?

The Marmande variety has been tweaked over the years. There are now versions called Super Marmande, Marmande di Costoluto, etc. None of them match the old original heirloom Marmande for flavour.

Hot Peppers

Posted: 03/09/2013 at 06:39

That's about when I start my tomato and chilli seeds, Japaholic. BTW, if you want to grow tomatoes as well you follow exactly the same procedure as above. There's one minor but important difference which I'll explain if you're interested.

Cross-pollination is only a problem if you plan to save seeds from chillies to grow the next season. And it's only worthwhile saving seeds from heirloom (pure) varieties. Seeds saved from hybrid varieties won't grow true to the original. Ditto tomatoes. Do you plan to save seeds? If so, I can tell you how.

If not, don't worry about cross-pollination. It has absolutely no effect on the chilli itself - inside or out - in terms of culinary use. It only affects the seeds inside in terms of the next generation.


Posted: 02/09/2013 at 15:18

Granny, the email notifications seem to come in fits and starts.

Suckers, side shoots, same things, different names. There's nothing wrong with letting a couple of them grow. I just wasn't clear how many actual branches you had growing off your main stem.

Hot Peppers

Posted: 02/09/2013 at 15:13

Stupid software. Swallowed the last bit of my post. In addition to the above:

As a general growing tip, like tomatoes, chillies aren't "hungry" plants. They don't need a lot of fertiliser. Planted in the ground, feed them once a couple of weeks after planting out, then a couple more times during the growing season. You'd use a dedicated commercial tomato fertiliser. If you can't get your hands on one, a dedicated rose fertiliser will do the job, too.

Don't overwater either, even in hot weather. Like toms, chillies are best left to their own devices. They thrive on "controlled neglect".

Good luck!

Hot Peppers

Posted: 02/09/2013 at 15:05

Anyway, Japaholic, growing chillies isn't hard. They're grown identically to tomatoes. I don't how much you know about growing chillies but I can give you a quick guide.

First, you're going to have source seed for the varieties you want to grow. You might need to try the internet.

Chillies are usually slow to germinate and take a while to develop to a size ready to plant out either in the ground or in containers. Longer than tomatoes. With toms, you usually allow about 8 weeks from sowing to planting out. Chillies can easily take 12 weeks.

I don't know exactly when it warms up for you, but count back 10-12 weeks from when you get consistent daytime temps in the low-20sC and overnight temps in the teens to calculate a sowing date.

Sow the seeds in damp (not wet) potting mix. You can use any sort of shallow container. I use the small meat or veg trays from the supermarket with holes punched in the bottom for drainage. Sow them shallowly, no deeper than the size of the seed itself. Push them gently into the mix, sprinkle some mix lightly on top if you can still see them.

Put the container into a plastic bag but leave the mouth of the bag open. You're creating a mini-greenhouse.

For germination, the seeds need temps in the low- to mid-20s, preferably from beneath. You can sit the container on a heater, hot water service, anything that will generate reasonable warmth from beneath. Condensation inside the bag should mean you don't need to moisten the mix. If it starts to dry out, though, mist the surface lightly with some water from a spray bottle just to dampen it. They don't need light at this stage.

When the seeds germinate - some will take longer than others - take them out of the plastic bag. Now they need as much light as possible as well as warmth, though not as much warmth as they needed to germinate. High teens will do. Bright sunlight is preferable - eg, inside on a sunny window sill - but artificial light will also suffice. I sometimes put mine under a couple of desk lamps with the lights an inch and a half above the seedlings. As the seedlings grow, I raise the lights accordingly.

The first "leaves" you'll see aren't real leaves. They're cotyledons. They nourish the seedling. A week or 10 days later, you'll see the first real leaves. When you've got at least two real leaves, you can give the seedlings their first transplant.

Fill 3" pots with potting mix. Water the mix and let it drain thoroughly to the point where it is still damp but not wet. Use a pencil or similar to drill a hole in the mix. Not to the bottom of the pot, deep enough to accommodate the seedling's roots and some of the stem.

Use something fine, with a point - I use a 3" nail - to gently prise each seedling from its home mix. You just have to be careful not to damage the roots. Lower the seedling into the hole so that the roots and about a third of the stem are underground. Squeeze the pot and tamp the mix around the seedling to make sure it's well bedded in. Repeat the process, one seedling per pot.

Now, again, it's a matter of much light as possible for as long as possible each day. When my outside temps are still in single figures but there's plenty of sunlight, I put mine outside on the terrace in a crate wrapped in clear bubble wrap. The bubble wrap uses the sunlight to trap enough warmth inside. But the bright sunlight is the key. I bring them inside overnight.

When the outside temps get into at least double figures, I put them outside without the bubble wrap, bringing them inside again when it cools down at night. When the overnight temps reach double figures, they stay out all night.

When the plants are 6-8" tall, they're ready to plant out wherever you intend growing them. Plant them at least 3' apart, more if you have the space. All they need is as much sunlight and warmth as possible.


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