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Friday, 7 January 2011

Grow your own Chilli Plants: Pest Control

Pests and Problems:

Even the best and most experienced gardeners among us suffer from pests affecting our plants and crops. When giving grow your own a go here are some useful notes from articles I have read adding in my own personal experiences from the past few years to protect your red hot chillis.

Slugs and Snails can be of the biggest outdoor problems for the Chilli grower, usual signs of a slug or snail attack are the usual slime trails, the young branches near the base of the plant have been stripped away overnight or often the centre of the leaves have been munched away. These prefer dark damp places to live so keep your plants free from any fallen leaves and manually remove any slugs or snails you find. Alternative methods to deter slug and snails include that I have found useful include copper tape or rings, or sprinkling egg shells or sometimes used coffee grounds round the base of the plant.
Greenfly/Whitefly: When the plants produce lush new growth they become vulnerable to these aphids that spread viruses quickly and lead to the determent & health of the plant. These can infest you chillies at any time of the season when you least expect it. The organic method is best to just hand pick them off or spray your chillies with a very weak soap solution. If you want to get technical you can introduce natural predators like lady birds and hover flies, attract these to your garden by planting marigolds and other bright flowers around your chillies. If you are growing in a greenhouse you could go as far as purchasing a parasitic wasp (Encarsia Formosa) from a specialist over the Internet. I try to go for the organic methods but do occasionally use a simple pesticide spray suitable for vegetables available form any garden centre. Before you spray the best poison you can find on them though think about the fact you hope to eat the chillies. You can buy pesticides for cropping / growing food you want to eat that makes it safe. Gardeners word magazine suggests that if you have a complete infestation to snip off the worst bits and put them on your bird table for the birds to eat.

Thrips produces a silver white discolouration with tiny black dots on the upper leaf surface. The leaves become distorted and flower and fruit production is affected. It likes hot, dry conditions so water regularly and regulate the temperature with shading and ventilation. Having my plants on the decking last year gave them afternoon sun, shelter from wind and plenty of ventilation. I do have a south facing garden though so the plants get a lot of nice warm sun. just experiment in your garden once your plants and strong and see which are the best positions for them. i was hesitant at first as the British weather is not the best climate to grow chillis but I was then pleasantly surprised when some plants thrived.

Botrytis may also pose a problem especially at the base of the plant and the fruit. It begins as a brownish spot that develops into a grey mould. It is particularly prevalent when it is cold & damp. Good ventilation will help stop this occurring, removing all dead or injured plant material before it becomes infected. Remove all infected material by cutting back into healthy stock and burning or binning the infected stem. Do not compost diseased plant material. Isolate infected plants to prevent the disease spreading don't be tempted like I did once to keep them going to get just one more chilli!

Phytophthora Blight and Southern Blight (fungal infections) develop on the stem and the disease spreads to the rest of the plant leading to its collapse and wilting occurs. Splashing water can dislodge spores and so spread the disease may affect plants particularly if grown outside during a typical British damp wet summer. Southern Blight is characterised by the presence of a white, cotton-like growth on the surface of the stem accompanied by tan or brown spherical bodies. Fungal diseases spread rapidly and it is best to burn infected plants straight away at the first signs of infection. In moist weather a white fungal growth also develops on the underside of leaves. From experience if your plants looks very unhappy just get rid of it to avoid damage to the rest of your precious season of plants.

Mould and Rot If you are growing in pots, do not over crowd the chillies, keep them well ventilated, and water regularly but not too much. Symptoms can include mould on the leaves, soft fruit, and fungus around the stems. The usual causes of this is over watering or under watering. I sometimes use a Propagator and they have vents on the top to let air out. Once I did not leave these open and the environment got very wet and I lost most of my plants from mold at the base of the stem. Learn from my experience and failures keep that ventilation there.

Pets not an obvious one but one of our cute moggies 'Maddie' is very partial to munching pepper teptin, twilight and jalapeno plants. For some reason she appears to avoid other plants types One year in the morning I awoke to find that an entire crop of twilight chillis has been mysteriously munched!! Look out for further cat mischief throughout the 2011 growing season. :)
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Wednesday, 5 January 2011

How Hot is Your Chilli Sauce?

How do you measure the heat of a chilli?
How do you guess how hot you new chile sauces will be before you try them?

To answer this question turn to the scoville scale. The Scoville scale is a measurement of the heat of a chilli. The number of Scoville heat units (SHU) indicates the amount of capsaicin present. Capsaicin is a chemical that stimulates the nerve endings in the skin especially the mucous membranes. The scale is named after its creator, American chemist Wilbur Scoville, who developed a test for rating the pungency of chili peppers. Contrary to popular opinion, it is not the seeds that are the hottest part of a chilli, but the white pith that surrounds them and runs in thick veins through the pod. Fresh red chillies are two to three times hotter than green fruit, and dried pods are between two and ten hotter than fresh pods. To give you a basic idea there and some of the more common varieties listed beolow in the table to match against your sauce ingredients list. Happy Tasting!

Scoville heat units
15,000,000–16,000,000Pure capsaicin[7]
8,600,000–9,100,000Various capsaicinoids (e.g., homocapsaicin, homodihydrocapsaicin, nordihydrocapsaicin)
5,000,000–5,300,000Law Enforcement Grade pepper spray,[8] FN 303 irritant ammunition
855,000–1,075,000Naga Jolokia (ghost chili)[9][10]
350,000–580,000Red Savina habanero[11][12]
100,000–350,000Guntur Chilli, Habanero chili,[13] Scotch Bonnet Pepper,[13] Datil pepper, Rocoto, African Birdseye, Madame Jeanette, Jamaican Hot Pepper[14]
50,000–100,000Bird's eye chili/Thai Pepper/Indian Pepper,[15] Malagueta Pepper,[15] Chiltepin Pepper, Pequin Pepper[15]
30,000–50,000Cayenne Pepper, Ají pepper,[13] Tabasco pepper, Cumari pepper (Capsicum Chinese)
10,000–23,000Serrano Pepper, Peter Pepper
2,500–8,000Jalapeño Pepper, Guajillo pepper, New Mexican varieties of Anaheim pepper,[16] Paprika (Hungarian wax pepper), Tabasco Sauce
500–2,500Anaheim pepper, Poblano Pepper, Rocotillo Pepper, Peppadew
100–500Pimento, Peperoncini
0No significant heat, Bell pepper, Aji dulce

This article uses information from:

Monday, 3 January 2011

The Chili Pepper Institute

I came across something exciting today while browsing the web and thought I would share with you all. Did you know that there is an institute dedicaled to the humble chilli pepper!!! See below this quote from their site in the 'about us section' the content of the site is great..... I will have to consider my next holiday plans now...

"The Chile Pepper Institute is an international nonprofit organization devoted to education, research, and archiving information related to Capsicum. Since its inception in 1992, it has been a recognized research institute in the College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences at New Mexico State University.

The Institute collaborates with the New Mexico State University Chile Breeding and Genetics Program to preserve chile germplasm, of both cultivated and wild species, and to advance the studies of chile pepper diseases. Furthermore, the Institute seeks to be an authorative source of all types of information regarding Capsicum.

The Institute is housed on the main campus of New Mexico State University, in Gerald Thomas Hall room 265, and is officially known as the Chile Pepper Institute Center for Chile Education."