Gardening Magazine

The Chilli Harvest

By Mwillis
Late September to early October is when most of my chillis are harvested. Many fruits are of course produced much earlier than this, but I always get a rush of ripe fruit just as the weather turns colder. (Ironically, this weekend temperatures in the low 20s C are forecast, which is unusually warm!). I think the plants know that this is their last chance to set fruit, before the frost kills them off.
Today then, I have picked another batch of ripe fruit:
The Chilli harvest
In the basket are some each of "Aji Limon", "Ring of Fire", "Aji Benito", "Challock Chilli" and "Hungarian, long thin, red".
The "Challock Chilli" ones are the dark brown-coloured ones.
The Chilli harvest
Some of you may recall that I helped their breeder, Stephen Shirley from Victoriana Nursery Gardens, to test them. After further refinements this chilli has now been stabilised and formally recognised as a breed called "Fat Bird". I saw some of them at the Challock Chilli Fest last weekend, and was interested to see that the new breed produces fruits that are much redder than the early prototypes.
With today's harvest added-in, my stash of fresh chillis now looks like this:
The Chilli harvest
I already have a similar quantity in the freezer - the ones that escaped being made into Sweet Chilli Sauce etc!
Over the last few days I have been preparing some of my plants for over-Wintering, by pruning them very hard and re-potting them into fresh compost, prior to bringing them into the warm. The fresh compost will help to minimise the number of "little beasties" that come into the house with the plants. (I'm realistic enough to know that at least some will evade my scrutiny). This year I'm only going to try to keep a small number of plants (maybe 6 or 7), and I'm choosing the rarer and slower-growing ones, like my "Cozumel" and "Panama 6" plants. This way I should be able to keep them in better condition. I'll be using these "self-watering kits" to keep them optimally hydrated:
The Chilli harvest
I have also brought indoors a couple of plants which have fruit that needs a bit of a helping hand with ripening, such as this little chap who I now believe to be a NuMex Sunburst Orange, who is now sitting on a windowsill above a radiator.
The Chilli harvest
Just as with the Tomatoes, I have had a good crop of Chillis this year, and I think this is mainly due to the fact that we had a prolonged spell of hot weather in June, which allowed the plants to grow rapidly and build up their strength rather than having to struggle to survive in the cold and wet weather we often get in Late Spring.

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