Last Autumn I decided not to discard most of the chilli plants I had been growing, but to try to keep them alive over the Winter. Well, the weather has for once been kind, and we have had little very cold weather, which I'm sure has been a significant factor, and most of them are definitely still alive. This ought to mean that I have ripe chilli fruits much earlier this year, which would be nice after last year's slow start and mediocre harvest!
This one is an Orange Habanero, which matured very slowly last year and produced only a handful of very small fruit very late in the season. It looks healthy and strong now, so I have high hopes of it. (It was grown from seeds sent to me by my friend Chris Holmes.)
It already has some flowers on it. I am in two minds about these. Part of me says "Remove the flowers because the plant is not yet big enough to support fruit", but another part of me says "Yippee, I'll get some fruit very early this year!"
This one is "Turkey Small Red". [A nickname of course, because I don't know its official name.]
This is what it looked like last November:
As you can see, it also has some flowers now. The flowers are on a new shoot that has appeared low down on the main stem. There is not much new growth above it, so I may eventually cut the main stem just above the new shoot. We'll see...
This is "Scotch Bonnet Caribbean Antillais". It dropped many of its old leaves round about Christmas time but has some new growth now, so it is definitely alive. Most of the new leaves have appeared on only one or two of the shoots, and the remainder are still pretty bare. I hope it will pick up later.
This is "7-Pot Brain Strain".
Here's a photo of it just after its trim, in November:
There are lots of new leaves on this one, mostly coming out of the joints in the stems.
Star of the show though is this "Aji Limon", which has just gone crazy!
I have already pinched-out the new shoots several times, to stop them going leggy, but it just keeps on producing more. Aji Limon is usually amongst the last chillis to produce ripe fruit, but I think maybe that won't be the case this time!
Just for the sake of balance (and honesty) I must point out that not ALL the plants have survived. I think this "Bolivian Rainbow" looks pretty dead.
I'm not discarding it yet though, because it is faintly possible that some new growth will appear from the roots. I'll hang on to it (and 2 others in similar condition) until such time as I need the windowsill space for something else. If nothing has appeared by then, they will go in the compost bin. Still, at least 12 survivors out of 15 seems to me like a good result.
My technique for keeping the chillis going is simple. They have been kept in rooms where the temperature is about 20 - 21C during the daytime, and falls to about 15C at night-time, but never really cold. I water them sparingly but frequently (about every 3 days). In the last couple of weeks I have started adding some plant food to the water, which is no doubt the main reason why many of the plants have sprung into growth. The product I am currently using is called "Cultivate" and is from "Herbwise Organic Solutions", who kindly sent me a free bottle to try. It's looking good so far! They also do an insecticide / fungicide, called "Eradicate" which sounds as if it might be worth a go too.