Whether you live in a large, suburban home with a lovely garden or in a small, urban flat rest assured you can grow your own chilli peppers just the same!
We usually have several chilli pepper plants around our garden, and in some of the pots around our home, at any one time. We harvest them as and when needed. When there is an abundance of chilli peppers, usually in late summer, I harvest them, wash, drain and chop them, and keep them in a bag in the freezer to use over the coming months. Having chopped chillies at hand is super convenient that way. I also sometimes dry the chillies and make crushed chilli pepper flakes, and for this it’s best to use red chillies, both for flavour and appearance.
The best part to growing your own chilli peppers at home is that it doesn’t really cost you anything. You don’t even have to buy chilli pepper seedlings or seeds. All you have to do is use the seeds from one, or two, chilli peppers, and you can choose the variety that you prefer. We prefer the Jalapeῆos, which are very easy to grow and generally very resilient. They do require regular watering though, but they will thrive in a sunny spot and produce more and more chilli peppers as soon as you’ve harvested the ones that are ready. The Jalapeῆos grow quite quickly, and proliferate easily too.
While there are many methods to planting chillies out there, we use the easiest method which is totally fuss and stress free. Simply cut a chilli pepper in half and plant the seeds directly into soil or the container where you would like your chilli pepper plant to grow. Keep watering gently, once a day, until the seeds sprout, and it is always such a joy when you see a seedling sprout! Continue to water regularly (but do not overwater) as chilli pepper plants generally like moist soil as well as their daily dose of sunshine. And if you choose to plant chillies in pots, you will have a wonderful display in any outdoor area you choose.
A chilli pepper plant sprouting. I took this photo last spring. Isn’t it pretty?
It’s best to plant chilli seeds in early spring, but you can keep sowing the seeds throughout summer as well. By the end of summer though, you should have reaped quite a bountiful harvest of chilli peppers. Making homemade chilli sauce at that point will practically become a necessity as you’ll more than likely have more chilli peppers than you know what to do with. We made a few jars of homemade chilli sauce just before winter started, and this will more than likely last us until the start of winter next year when we’ll hopefully be ready to make a few more jars!
I know that you can very often buy quite large bags of chilli peppers in late summer for as little as R25.00 or R30.00 at the greengrocer’s, which you can use to either freeze or make homemade chilli sauce, so you might wonder what’s the point of growing your own chillies at home? Well, you do have a fairly constant supply of chillies through spring and summer and besides, why spend any money on chillies when you can practically have them for free at home? Anyway, those are just my thoughts. Plus, I actually enjoy growing our own chillies – it’s always such a pleasure reaping your own little harvest, if you can!
Do you grow your own chilli peppers, or do you prefer to buy?
If you’ve enjoyed this blog post, please share it with others!
You can also find Frugal in SA