Although Chillies are sown in August, the plants grown in Sydney are now bursting with fruit in the garden. Grantham gardener Anjali has some amazing chilli plants growing that are full of fruit.
Here is some information on growing these colourful and tasty fruits in your home garden.
Growth habits and planting needs
Chilli plants love a hot sunny aspect and love humidity so choose a site that will get 6-8 hours of sun.
They do well in the garden but are also great plants to grow in containers. Container grown chillies can be moved about if the conditions require it and they fruit well if kept watered. A 20 cm pot will be fine for growing chillies in pots.
Prepare the soil well by digging in well rotted compost to a depth of 60 cm.The soil should be friable and well draining. Chillies like a pH of 6-6.8 so test the soil for its pH and amend the soil carefully. Prepare the beds a few weeks before planting.
To fruit properly, chillies require potassium and like capsicums and tomatoes, they should follow leafy plants in the crop rotation system which will have depleted some of the nitrogen in the soil. Too much nitrogen will result in leaf growth at the expense of fruits.
In Sydney seeds can be planted in paper pots in August/September and then planted out in August/November. Seeds can also be sown directly in the garden in December.
Before sowing the seeds soak them overnight for 24 hours or at least 10 hours. Dry the seeds and then sow them 6-12 mm deep in paper pots so that the roots will not be disturbed at planting. They will germinate in 4 – 15 days. When the seedlings are 10-15 cm tall they can be transplanted into the garden. Space them 45 -60 cm apart to allow good air flow and space the rows 60 -90 cm apart.
Chillies are shallow rooted plants and require even watering so it is important to mulch around the plants to conserve moisture and prevent evaporation. As the roots are close to the to[ of the soil digging out weeds should be done with care so prevention by good mulching is preferable.
Chillies are self pollinating so are easy to hand pollinate by shaking the flowers gently to distribute the pollen if needed.
Chillies take about three months to mature, ie about 60 to 90 days from sowing. The pods will turn from green to red as they mature. You can however, pick them at whatever stage suits you though for their full flavour picking when they are fully mature will give the best results.
For safety wear rubber gloves and cut off the chillies using a knife or scissors, rather than pulling them off which can damage the plant.
Frequent harvesting will ensure further cropping and greater yield over the growing season.
Here are some of the chillies grown in the garden: