The Second Version

02/06/07

Chilli Blues

Early in April I sowed some Scotch Bonnet seeds, hoping to get a few chillies for the summer. But things aren’t going so well.

First, it must be the seeds themselves: they were taken from fruits intended to culinary uses. These chillies were probably picked underripe or just ripe, while good seeds come from fruits allowed to ripen fully, or even overripe, on the vine. Moreover, the ideal temperature for those seeds to sprout is 25 – 30 °C, but I don’t keep the heating so high at home; I found a remedy placing the pots near the hot air exhaust of my computer, and that worked somehow.

Of the first batches of seeds, only a minority sprouted, while a second batch appeared to perform well. However, something – rot, bugs – struck and most younglings of the second batch died. Some plants were stunted and failed to grow and died a while later. It is interesting to notice that of the two seeds I planted later, during the heatwave of late May when temperatures reached 30 °C during the day, sprouted quickly. One youngling died, but the other is definitely vigorous.

So now, of the 25 – 30 seeds I planted at various stages I am left with five plants. Which aren’t growing as fast as they ought to; the tallest is barely 10 cm. Part is my mistake: two of plants suffered from being moved around too much and left on a too hot windowsill; finally I placed them in my loft that acts a bit like a greenhouse and they got better. But the main culprit is weather: during the May heatwave, the chilli plants were having a growth sprint, but now the temperature has dropped to a barely 20 °C high and it has been cloudy and rainy for the last week more or less (so much for those who were preaching that summer would have been the hottest and driest in decades). Caribbean plants like hotter and sunnier weather; I should place them in a heated and lighted greenhouse when the weather is so adverse. But I don’t have one, and while it isn’t prohibitive to build, it doesn’t seem worth it right now.

It appears that bad weather is going to continue for another week; the warm African high pressure should make its comeback between June 7 and 10. Let’s wait and see.

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