Last week we received an envelope containing five clear plastic sachets, each protecting three small, innocent looking seeds. The sender was fellow allotment blogger, Solly, and the sachet contents are five spectacularly unusual varieties of chilli seed. Their purpose is for 2013s most important chilli growing trials.
Identical packages currently sit in the seed boxes of 13 other veg growers from throughout the UK. Each one of us will attempt to grow the chillis using their own preferred methods, with progress recorded by Solly on his fantastic website Vegetablism.
According to our chilli monitor, this isn’t a competition. But we’ve seen him crow about the size of his offingham cabbages, so we’re naturally apprehensive about any potential pepper impotency on our part.
Which is why we’re publishing our excuses now…
1. We have never grown chillies from seed*
2. We don’t have a greenhouse
3. Or a heat lamp
4. Our window frames are drafty
5. And we live at altitude
Normally we overcome our lack of artificial warmth by picking seeds that suit our environment. But these little fire starters look like they require specialist care – the seed ‘chiltepin’, for example, tends not to germinate unless it “passes through a bird’s digestive system”. So, in the absence of bright light, warm air and an accommodating pigeon we’ll have to wing it and see what happens.
The seeds on trial are
1. Piquillo (aka “the little beak”)
2. Guindilla (aka “the ones you get in kebabs”)
3. Hungarian yellow wax (aka “hot wax pepper”)
4. NuMex centennial (no known aka)
5. Chiltepin (aka “bird pepper” or “the mother of all chillies)
For regular updates on all the trialists progress, check out vegetablism.com
*I tend to think three chilli plants is plenty. Nurseries sell individual plants cheaper than a packet of seeds. Which means I can get three different varieties without the hassle of propagation.