Tag Archives: chillies

Potting up the chilli house

Chillies are one of my favourite things to grow and some years we have had an entire glasshouse filled with 44 chilli plants of various sorts. This year I have been a bit more restrained with only 20 plants. These were raised in heated propagators, which we turned off a couple of weeks ago, but left the plants in place. This week they were in perfect condition for moving into their final pots. The plants were looking healthy and their pots were filled with fine roots but not yet pot bound. Continue reading

Sowing this week

This week’s main task was planting out some of the broad beans that we sowed a few weeks back. They had developed into robust young plants in perfect condition for moving on. Whilst we planted out the peas in the polytunnel, broad beans do not do so well under cover as they rely on pollinating insects and the pods are often poorly filled. Destined as they were for an outdoor bed, I should have hardened them off for the last week or so. That simply involves getting them acclimatised to the cooler conditions outdoors, where they have been enjoying the protection of the polytunnel. Continue reading

Sweetcorn salad

Freshly picked cobs of corn

Freshly picked cobs of corn

Sweetcorn is one of our favourite late summer crops. It takes up a fair bit of space so we only make two plantings – one under cover and one outdoors. The harvest is brief but there are few things better than freshly picked corn. We usually just simmer it for five minutes, slather in butter and seasoning, and enjoy it on the cob. For a change, though, we put together this simple salad. Continue reading

Tomatillo mole

Tomatillo mole

Tomatillo mole

We are growing tomatillos and their close relatives, Cape gooseberries, this year for the first time. The latter we are just eating fresh – none have yet made it as far as the house – whilst we have been enjoying the tomatillos in a simple Mexican inspired mole. This is quick and easy to prepare and has a wonderful fresh flavour with some tartness from the tomatillos. Continue reading

Guacamole

Fresh homemade guacamole

Fresh homemade guacamole

The ripening of chillies and tomatillos, along with fresh sweetcorn, has brought on a recent spate of Mexican inspired dishes: guacamole – literally avocado sauce; a mole made from roasted chillies, tomatillos, and red onions; a salad or salsa where sweetcorn is the star ingredient; and sweetcorn fritters. Recipes will follow for each of these, but in this post I cover homemade guacamole. I do not, I must confess, have that much knowledge of Mexican cuisine, but I am fairly confident that this guacamole is a fair representation – certainly more so than the dull and insipid substitutes found in some shops. Continue reading

Replacement peppers

I recently wrote about the poor germination from some of our peppers. I contacted one of the seed merchants who had found a problem with one of the varieties and sent replacements. This has come too late, though, for a further sowing. New seed from a different supplier sown in the second batch has germinated well, but that still left our chilli and sweet pepper collection rather lacking this year. I usually grow 44 chillies, to fill our smallest glasshouse through the summer, and 22 or so sweet peppers, plus spares. We were short by about one third of what we needed so had to resort to buying young plants instead. Continue reading

Germination problems

Whilst many of my posts are quite positive about the crops we manage to produce from our kitchen garden, sometimes things do go wrong. I recall one particularly bad experience when an entire bed of overwintering peas and beans was destroyed by bean seed fly larvae – a pest I had never even heard of and, thankfully, have not seen since. Such things do happen from time to time, but more normal is the loss of a small and entirely tolerable portion of a crop. This year, though, I am very disappointed to already report a bit of a disaster with our chilli, pepper, and aubergine seeds. Continue reading

First sowings of the year: peppers, chillies, and aubergines

Whilst the main plot is too cold and too wet for planting, and the polytunnel is not much better, it is nonetheless time for the first sowings of the year. Peppers, chillies, and aubergines hail from warmer climes, and benefit from a long growing season so need to be started early in the year. Chillies are, in my experience, the easiest of these crops, and we never fail to produce a good quantity of ripe fruits. It does vary, though, according to variety. The Habanero, for example, needs a much longer season than many others. The peppers and aubergines really do need to get a good start as it is a challenge to ripen the fruits at the end of the season, especially the peppers, and neither CT nor I are particular fans of dark green peppers. Continue reading

Sowing plan – peppers, chillies, aubergines, and tomatoes

The miserable days of winter might dissuade one from venturing forth to the plot, but it is the ideal time for reviewing one’s seed collection, browsing catalogues, and deciding what to sow in the coming season. Whilst there is generally some time left for this task, some plants need an early start for best results, so it was time to look through the seed box and check the pepper, chilli, aubergine, and tomato seeds, which will probably form the first sowings of the season, any time from the end of January through to March. Peppers, chillies, and aubergines generally take a couple of weeks to germinate and are not too quick to get established, so are good candidates for early sowing. If the germination or early growth of the first batch is poor, there is then time for a further sowing. Tomatoes germinate more quickly and establish themselves much more readily, so I tend to sow those two or three weeks after the peppers. Continue reading

Chorizo and red pepper paella

Following the recent chilli harvest, we had a large number of the mild chilli pepper Big Jim. These look rather like the more common pointed sweet pepper, and they are mild enough to substitute for them in one of our favourite rice dishes. I am somewhat loath to call this a paella, as this no doubt has specific connotations, but it is inspired by this Spanish dish of rice, seasoned with paprika and saffron. Continue reading