Thursday, 10 May 2018

Growing chilli the in Canberra region

I am constantly amazed at how little knowledge people have about growing food.  Ironically foodies appear to have the least knowledge about where food comes from.  I am writing this post to help clear up some of the most common misconceptions that I hear about chillies and capsicums. 

Let me explain how growing chillies in a cool climate such as Canberra is relatively simple. I grow everything organically and make compost to feed the soil.

Big and mild chilli - easy to grow
1) It is difficult to grow chillies in Canberra
No it isn't.  The two most difficult things are finding space as Canberra has tiny postage stamp sized yards and finding time as the majority of people in Canberra are double income, full time public servants who are time poor.  If you have space and time then chillies are simple to grow in Canberra.

2) You can't get a decent crop of chilli in Canberra as the season is too short
What nonsense!  I hear this all the time and it is simply not true.  I plant seeds and get a large crop in one season.  If you can't get a crop either you are doing it wrong or you have the wrong variety.

Aji Pineapple
 3) Growing chillies from seed is too hard
No it isn't.  I grow from seed (and save seed each year) and find them better than seedlings for many reasons.  I have a far larger selection of varieties, each year they become better suited to my garden, and it is far cheaper to grow from seed than seedling.

4) It is too expensive to grow them, or it is cheaper to buy chillies from the supermarket
No it isn't!  If you are not saving money by growing your own then you are doing it wrong.  If you pay $6 for 5 seeds you will probably only grow one or maybe two plants each year.  To break even you must harvest $6 worth of chillies in that first season.  Considering the price of chillies is anywhere from $16 to $60 or more per kg (depending on the variety) in supermarkets this is not very difficult at all.  My Aji Pineapple was planted late and it gave me over 1.8kg of ripe pods and a huge number of unripe ones over the season.  I saved seed from this so can plant it again every year from now on.
Trinidad Scorpion Butch T - super hot and super tasty
5) Chillies all taste the same
Most people know that different varieties of chilli have different levels of heat.  As a chilli ripens its level of heat will generally increase.  Different varieties of chilli also taste very different from one another.  Some are fruity, others taste like berries, others taste like capsicum, some are sweet, some very bitter, some have complex taste while others don't.  You have such little choice of chillies in markets so the only way to get what you want is to grow it yourself!

6) It is extremely difficult to over winter chillies
Chillies die if hit repeatedly by heavy frosts.  They survive if kept out of frost.  Chillies are not overly difficult to over winter if you can move them somewhere sheltered.  If this is not possible you can cover them with an upturned bucket each night.  I had a chilli plant that was four years old, I was considering pushing it for a fifth but didn't cover it in in late September and it died.  It had survived all of winter and was hit by a spring frost.  You certainly don't need heated greenhouses or anything like that.
Hangjiao #5 space chilli Helix Nebula

So if you eat chillies why not grow some?  You could grow seeds from a store bought chilli, but don't bother!  Don't grow the varieties that are common in the shops, grow something far more interesting.  Grow something less common, something that you will probably like, and not just what is simple to mass produce.  I sell seeds from a few types of chillies on my for sale page.   I don't have a wide range at this point in time, but some of the varieties I do sell are remarkable.

No comments:

Post a Comment