It all started with a silly idea.
About three years ago, while getting into some excellent hot chilies, discussing with friends where to get some that are hotter than your supermarket variety jalapenos, I decided to try my hand at growing some superhots. Of course, me being me, I did not really think about doing them outside in the garden, because… well, there is no good reason, I was just reading up on chili growing in a forum and they mentioned that superhots do not like to be cold. Coincidentally, I had also recently read about the autopot and seen that a starter kit could be had for a measly $108. Additional grow LED arrays use minimal electricity and can be found quite cheaply on ebay.
So, soon after, I had an awesome (in my mind at least) setup in my spare room cupboard and one trinidad scorpion along with a jalapeno plant were slowly growing. How I watched over them, talked to them, and when they started flowering profusely, sang Barry White songs as I hand pollinated them. So clearly, my harvest would be bountiful. Well, dear reader, it was not to be. After 18 long months of growing, where my beloved superhot Trinidad Scorpion plant had grown to nearly 5 foot high, that is not a typo, FIVE FOOT high and yet it only ever produced 1, single miserly fruit. Yes it was rather hot, but one (again not a typo), one fruit.
Feeling down about the whole thing, I consulted with the proprietor of a hydroponics store, who advised me to move my setup outside. This move outdoors, indeed benefited the jalapeno quite a bit, and the harvest from it went up a bit, but still nary a fruit from the scorpion.
Around this time, I also had finally finished my MBA, and all of a sudden I had spare time on my hands. This, combined with me now spending time outdoors staring wistfully at my plants, led me to decide to build an aquaponics tank and garden bed with which to continue my growing endeavors. Everyone needs a hobby.
So build it I did (and it will be the subject of a future blog post) and more chilies, along with other plants were planted. Many a hot chili and other vegetable were harvested, but the wind and water of the levels were too much for the superhots, and while they grew, they still refused to bear me fruit. However, my potted habaneros, planted in soil due to lack of space in the aquaponics bed, thrived and gave out some awesomely super hot and tasty peppers.
This leads to where I am now. Planning. Planning and scheming for my 2014/15 one man chili festival. While I am still going to try to get some superhots going in my aquaponics, this season, they will be shielded from the wind in a greenhouse giving them a much better chance of growing.
That however is only the beginning of my plan. During the past year, I have slowly amassed a collection of chili seeds 44 species in all, ranging from medium hot, to ludicrous hot. Some, with no actual name, only a CGN designation. From this lot, I aim to get at least 50, if not 100 potted chilies growing in my backyard. So I am preparing – purchasing the pots, figuring out the layout required, some irrigation ideas, and wind breaks. If all goes well, you will see in 2015 some rare and hot raph brand chili sauce and some damn hot pickled chilies.
This is just the introductory piece on my growing journey, and there will be more later. However consider yourself warned. This winter is going to be chili and next summer is going to be HOT!