The first batch of chilis is ripe enough to remove them from the plants. Leaving them any longer might lessen the heat and that is definitely not what we want. Most of them dry rather good on their own. I cut the fruit in half and just leave it outside when it's warm. Do not underestimate them if you put them on a sunny window sill. They smell pretty strong and the air will turn somewhat funny (more like irritating) so either have ventilation or put them outside.
After a couple of days they won't get any drier in these parts. I put them into the oven at 50° for about an hour to remove the last bits of water. After that they can be pestled or conserved at whole.
Finally! The scorpion venom… aka chili has gone from green and wrinkled to a quite dangerous looking red-orangish and even more wrinkled. Let's see how this one ranks on the scale of madness in the coming days. Might as well try one on my neighbours first. Nothing is more fun than giving away chili peppers to people who claim "to like hot food". :)
So I put half a scorpion into a classic chili con carne. Raw and unprocessed for a natural "taste". What a nasty little chili pepper! They were quite hot, but not as hot as I expected them to be. Probably somewhere around the Ghost Peppers but definitely hot. The flavour is quite strong and it added that extra bit of spice that you need in a chili.
Rank #2 goes to the delicious (and not really harmless) Fatalii Chili. The first chili turned into a lovely and quite dangerously looking orange. It has "eat me!" written all over it, no? The second picture is what the plant looks like and the things to come. It's roughly 1m high with more than 30 fruits on it.
The 3rd and 4th place will probably go to either the Habaneros or Scorpions. The Trinidad Scorpion already shows a hint of yellow. Interestingly the Ghost Peppers are the slowest even though they are fast growers. They already have chilis on them, but too slow to ripen in the next weeks.
The first place goes to the Cayenne Golden Chili which produced the first ripe chili this year. It took about 5.5 months from the first little seedling to a quite impressive chili fruit. It's ~12cm in length. Unfortunately this is merely a "snack chili". The Fataliis will most likely be the next to ripen. There are about 15 little chilis on the largest plant waiting to grow bigger.
The first chili plant to blossom and to bear fruit turned out to be one of the smallest and weakest: the cayenne golden chili. It has blossoms all over the place and the first fruit appeared a couple of days ago. The chilis are now about 30-40cm high. I will cut back the longest branches if they get bigger than ~50cm. It's just too big for the balcony otherwise.
The experiment with the compressed cocos fibre turned out to be not quite optimal. The nutritional value of the soil is just too low without humus and pouring fertilizer like crazy is not the best option. The plants are significantly smaller and grow much slower. The best option with such a setup is probably specialized nutrient mixture like it is used with hydrophonics. Only a 50:50 mixture of cocos fibre and normal turf based topsoil worked well. In fact the cayenne chili pictured above grows in such a soil mixture.
The chilis have grown a lot and the roots started to poke out on the bottom of small pots. The largest ones (well, the Fataliis anyway) are now in pots with 21cm diameter. Interestingly the plants don't really have many roots but they still refuse to grow further if the pot is small.
I planted some of them into a cocos based potting soil. It's no mixture but pure, compressed cocos fiber so they will probably need fertilizer. Traditional potting soil is usually made of compost and turf. Using turf is not exactly environmental friendly. In fact moors are destroyed so that high quality potting soil can be sold cheaply. Cocos fibre on the other hand is a waste product, though it has to be shipped around half of the world. So take your pick, but cocos fibre is probably the better idea.
Sooo, with organic chilis grown, might as well try that cocos stuff. It probably needs a bit more fertilizer, but there are fertilizers that are "compatible" with organic farming. The one I use is based on vinasse made mainly from sugar beets and other plants. Also a by-product.
The chilies can now be outside during most of the day. I don't let them stand outside during the night, yet. Should be around 5°C, but you never know. The Fatalii has somewhat "overgrown" all others. Definitely the fastest grower.
Some don't really want to grow, unfortunately. The Cayenne, rightmost picture, and three others haven't really grown much. I don't know if it's the weather, but they clearly don't like something.
The four repotted chilies have grown to almost twice their size since so I decided to move them all out of the green house and into their own flower pots. It's not exactly tropical climate around here, but there is much more light available.
The final count is 11 plants:
- 3x Jolokia
- 3x Habanero
- 3x Fatalii
- 1x Cayenne
- 1x Trinidad Scorpion
I have repotted 4 chili plants that had their roots growing out of their small pots and because of the weather being really nice. They are already roasting in the midday and evening sun. :) They will now stay in 12cm pots until it's warm enough for them to be outside during the night. The final pots will be 21cm which store enough water for about a summer day in direct sun.
The weather has been quite nice the last days and some of the Chilis "took advantage" of the sun. Meaning they have grown more in three days than in the three weeks before. The Fataliis like last year seem to be the fastest growers. One of them now has its first pair of leaves. They will probably get their own pots next weekend.
They were originally planted in compressed earth made from coconut palm wood and leaves which is rather nutrient-poor but it is well suited for cultivating plants from seeds. The young chilis need to be repotted into real earth soon after sprouting or you could use fertilizer. The later can be dangerous if not thinned down enough as it can burn the delicate roots of seedlings.
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