It may still be blazing outside (which, incidentally, most chili peppers love), but winter is always around the corner. If you’ve got a love for fresh chilies (to go with your favorite bottle of Mad Dog Hot Sauce, of course), then you’ve got to consider an indoor/outdoor garden for your chili peppers. Indeed, most chili pepper varieties do best when they’re planted in January. That gives them plenty of time indoors before it’s time to move them outside in the summer heat.
If you’re planning to start a small, indoor chili pepper garden (or you’ve got a greenhouse to be jealous of), then it all begins with choosing the right seeds, soil, and yes, even planters.
Seeds – capsicum Annuums are an excellent choice for beginners because they almost always sprout and produce fruit. But, if you’re after a particular variety of chili pepper, it’s best to head to a local, independent nursery. They’ll be able to provide you with appropriate guidelines.
Soil – with most plants, you’ll want rich soil that holds moisture incredibly well. It should never be too dry or sandy.
Planters – if you’re starting your garden indoors, then you’ll want smaller pots that are easy to transport during the year. But, that’s not your only consideration. You’ll also want to opt for plastic planters that provide stability and durability no matter where they’re placed. Clay pots, while they may seem like a traditional home for chili peppers, actually tend to soak in some of that valuable moisture from the soil and should be avoided.
During the first few crucial weeks and months, it’s vitally important to keep your chili pepper seeds and seedlings moist. You may want to keep a spray bottle handy as this is a better way to water delicate plants than a bottle of water.
You’ll also want to ensure that your plants get as much sun as they can. Chili peppers need plenty of sunlight and will probably die if they don’t get enough. Try to put them on the windowsill (or in front of a window) that receives several hours of sunlight daily. South or west facing windows are typically best, but use whatever space you have that’s particularly sunny. Avoid moving your plants from room to room, as chili peppers, like most plants like to stay in one place as much as they can. If you’re already planning to move your plants outdoors when it’s warm enough, consider that as all the major moving your plant can handle in a year.
Flowering Chili Pepper Plants
This is precisely the moment you’ve been waiting for. Where there are flowers, there is fruit (well, as long as you continue to care for your plant properly). You should remember from your early science lessons that it’s not quite as simple as that. You need to get the pollen to the stamen, and while this happens naturally outdoors, you may need to give your chili plants an extra hand while they remain indoors. However, this is really rather easy. When several flowers have opened, all you need to do is rub your finger (or a Q-tip if you don’t enjoy the sensation) around the pollen, this will loosen it and is likely to be the most intervention you’ll need to perform with your chili peppers
Once fruit begins to grow (likely by the time you’ve moved your plants outdoors for the summer season), you’ll need to keep a close eye on them. Every chili pepper will mature at a different time. Knowing when to pick is as much an art form as it is a science. Actually, picking is perhaps a dangerous word to use when it comes to chili peppers. You should cut the with a bit of stem attached rather than plucking them from their home. And, the more often you do this, the more energy each plant puts into growing more fruit.
If you have a particularly hardy harvest, you may consider making your own hot sauce rather than just scrambling a bit of fresh chili with your eggs in the morning (yes, we do recommend that). But, then again, making a craft sauce properly could use up too many of your precious chilies, so you may be better off getting yourself a bottle of Mad Dog Scorpion Hot Sauce. After all, you can never have too much spice in your life, can you?