Why should you care about planting chili peppers?
The green chili pepper is one of the best types of chilis to grow in your garden. Along with Jalapeños, they are versatile and you will find lots of recepies where they will shine.
Besides they are easy-to-grow, sturdy plants that will give you lots of satisfaction with almost no effort on your part.
Chilis can be used in dried form, and even frozen, but for some recipes it is best to have them fresh and nothing it’s fresher than obtaining them right from your garden.
First let’s get some pepper seeds
You can always buy the seeds (ensuring their quality to some degree) but if you can get your hands on fresh peppers in your region you can obtain seeds from the pod.
- Choose a ripe chili pepper. You will know it’s ripe because rather than green it will be orange or red. Or you can choose one that’s still green but with ends changing color.
- Put it in a moisture free environment and let it dry (the edge of a window is usually a good choice).
- The pod will become redder and then brittle and translucent (see image above) and the seeds will become loose inside.
- Open the pod and get your seeds.
How I know when it is ready?: if you shake the pod it will rattle.
Word of advice: the pod may look like a thin brittle shell but it is still very hot. Be careful not to touch your eyes, mouth or any sensitive skin because it will burn like hell (I learnt this the hard way, don’t let it happen to you).
Who cooks with green peppers?
Chilis (also called hot peppers) are an important ingredient in Asian, Latin-American and Southern U.S.A. cuisines.
What a sad thing would Nachos be without green peppers or jalapeños!
Germinating the seeds and potting your pepper plant
- Sow the seeds into a seed starting tray. They must be covered with 5 mm of compost or garden earth. (You can use egg cartons as starting trays).
- Peppers will germinate within one to three weeks, depending on the variety and climate conditions.
- A good practice is to sow three seeds together to increase the chances of germination.
- If all seeds germinate you’ll need to pull out the weaker plants.
- When your pepper seedlings have two pair of leaves, you can move them to their final container or pot.
- The container should be medium to large (at least a 5 gallon container).
- If you live in a warm area you can sow the seeds directly to the pot.
- Set them 5 to 10 cm apart and make sure they receive enough water (it may filter quickly to the bottom of the pot).
Taking care of your chili pepper plant
- Provide plenty of light and water.
- They are warm weather plants, protect them from low temperatures.
- The fruit that is exposed to harsh sunlight may decolorize on the exposed surface. You can move the pot to another area at noon or you can put them close to other plants so they shade each other.
- They are very hardy, but you must protect them from extreme wind, rain and hail.
Chili Pepper Seedlings
- Like with all plants that grow in pots, you must check for adequate drainage and try to avoid wetting the leaves when watering to prevent diseases.
- Best time to water: early in the morning. Second best: late in the afternoon or at night.
- Keep the container weed free. Remove weeds early before it gets too difficult.
- You may need to tie up the chili plant to a pole or stake as it grows to avoid bending. Don’t tie it up too hard and don’t use cords or wire that can damage the stems. My recommendation: use a discarded pantyhose.
What is the appearance of a chili pepper plant?
The chili pepper plant grows about 60 to 70 cm tall, it has dark green ovoid leaves and five petal flowers that grow in the axillary bud.
The flowers are small, hermaphrodite and usually white. After two days the flowers wither and fall and the chili berry starts growing.
Before it reaches maturity it is dark green, measures three to four centimeters long and it is a little curved.
Ripe peppers change colors to orange and/or red, however it is pretty common to consume chili peppers while they are still green.
They are a perennial plant that survives several seasons.
Picking up the Chili Peppers
You just have to cut at the stem, or pluck them carefully.
Use gloves or wash your hands thoroughly afterwards (Remember, it will burn like hell if you don’t).
- What makes chili peppers so hot is capsaicin, a protein that is found in all the fruit but especially in the white pith that holds the seeds.
- Capsaicin is not water soluble, so it is pointless to drink water to calm down the burning sensation it produces. Your best shot is cold milk or tequila (or any other beverage with fat or alcohol content).
- Birds don’t experience that burning sensation. Nature needs them to eat and carry the seeds away.
- There is a method to know how hot a chili pepper is. It is called the Scoville scale and it measures the pungency (how spicy) of different foods.
- The green color of the chili pepper is due to the large ammount of chlorophyll they contain.
- Peppers are good companion plants for tomatoes and herbs such as cilantro. Throw a few onions and you have everything for making pico de gallo sauce.
Ripe Red Hot Chili Pepper
Thanks for reading.