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1 October 2020

How to grow chillies

Chilli peppers are great for adding heat to cooking and are easy to grow, even on a windowsill
Fruiting chilli plant
Ceri Thomas

Starting off chillies

You can either buy plants from the garden centre in spring or you can sow seeds from mid-February in a heated propagator or on a warm windowsill. They need a minimum temperature of 18C to germinate. Starting off chillies early in the year will give them the opportunity to ripen their fruits over the summer.

Sow the seeds thinly on top of a Best Buy compost for sowing seeds. Cover with a light layer of fine compost or vermiculite. Keep the compost just moist; the seeds won't germinate if it dries out.

Carefully prick out the seedlings into individual pots and pot on until they're in their final container, which needs to be 25-30cm wide.

Caring for chilli plants

If you want to grow your chilli plants outside, wait until all risk of frost has passed in late May or early June and harden them off before moving to a spot outside in full sun.

Feed the plants weekly with a tomato fertiliser from when the first flowers appear and water when the compost is dry to the touch.

Stake all but the shortest of varieties with a cane to support the stems under the weight of the developing fruit.

Fruit should ripen by September or October, depending on the summer. If your chillies are not ripening outside, bring the whole plant inside to a sunny windowsill to encourage the process.

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