A couple of weeks ago I won a prize in a raffle. I could have chosen the bottle of wine; instead I went straight to an over-loaded chilli plant. Now I do enjoy a mild curry and a little spicy heat in Mexican dishes… but probably not enough to use up the harvest on this one plant alone. I could use some of them to brighten up a festive door wreath for the kitchen, but that still leaves a decent number of chillis to harvest.
So I may dry some and offer them as part of a festive gift for foodie friends. Growing chillis has become a great pastime and so a Chilli Kit may solve another Christmas present dilemma for many gardening friends. The pot/package becomes the pot and inside it are the seeds and a sachet of compost – so all you need do is plant and add water – simple! The planting instructions and maintenance advice are on the outside of the pot, so you have no excuse! The chilli seed in the pack is called ‘Basket of Fire’ and is described as medium-hot.
For a higher heat experience you might want to try chilli ‘Ember Explosive’, an heirloom chilli, from Chiltern Seeds. This has purple foliage and dark purple fruits.
This year I grew a hot little yellow Peruvian chilli from Johnsons Seeds called Pepper (Hot) Lemon. The pods are green or yellow with a citrus twist to their hot and spicy taste.
Friends of mine, Michael and Joy Michaud of Sea Springs Seeds, run chilli-growing courses in February and August, led by Michael, who is a chilli expert. Entitled ‘What’s Hot, What’s Not’, the courses provide the opportunity to discover the the hottest of hot chilli peppers used by Bangladeshis, Mexicans and West Indians, as well as the gentle sweet peppers that are perfect for stuffing and frying.
Both courses give you the expertise to go home and start your chilli crop off, but the August courses have the additional visual impact of the chilli harvest. The courses are at the Michaud’s farm and last for two hours, and cost £20, plus a refundable (on the day) booking fee. Another hot present for heat-loving food and garden lovers.
And of course there are also numerous Chilli Festivals to be enjoyed or endured, including the long-established Chilli Fiesta at West Dean. Save the dates – 7-9 August – and experience a very hot time, if you dare.