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The hot pods of chili or peppers give many dishes the necessary spice, especially if they come fresh and untreated from your own garden. Both are related to each other. Chilies are small and very hot, serve as the basic substance for chili powder and cayenne pepper and should only be used sparingly. Paprika powder is produced in numerous flavors from the significantly larger and milder peppers.

Characteristics

  • Family: Nightshade family
  • Genus: Paprika family Capsicum
  • scientific name: Capsicum
  • Trivial names: chili, pepperoni, Spanish pepper, pepperoni
  • Origin: Southeast Asia
  • Growth: Shrubby, bushy, annual or perennial
  • Growth height: 30 - 150 cm depending on the variety
  • Flower: inconspicuous, whitish
  • Fruiting period: September to October

maintenance

Both hot peppers and chillies belong to the nightshade family. They differ mainly in shape and degree of sharpness or the type of spices made from them. The substance capsaicin is responsible for the sharpness.

The highest concentration of this substance is not in the pulp, but in the white septum and the placenta. The pods, which are botanically classified as berries, can be eaten raw or cooked and, depending on the variety, taste mildly sweet, spicy or fiery.

planting in the garden

From around mid-May, young plants will be available in specialist garden shops, which can be planted out in the garden after the ice saints at the earliest. The danger of night frosts should no longer exist, because these plants are very sensitive to frost. In addition, the soil should already be slightly warm. In addition to planting in the bed, you can also plant under foil or in the greenhouse.

Before that, the plants are slowly acclimated to the new environmental conditions by placing them outside for hours during the day when the temperatures are mild and bringing them back inside in the evening. However, before planting begins, the right location must be found and the soil prepared accordingly.

location

Hot peppers and chillies need a lot of warmth and therefore prefer warm and sunny locations in the garden that are protected from wind and rain. In rather mild areas, planting outdoors is possible without any problems. In particularly cold locations, planting in a greenhouse or under foil may be more advisable. The warmer the location, the faster the plants and consequently the fruits will develop.

The demands on the soil are high. It should be humus, loose, well drained and rich in nutrients. It should also have good memory. Heavy soils that tend to waterlogging, which only warm up very slowly, are just as unsuitable as very light soils with low water retention capacity and humus content. The pH should be between 5.5 and 6.8.

Pepper plants, which also include chili and hot peppers, should be grown at the same location every 3-4 years at most. A corresponding cultivation break is typical for nightshade plants and should i.a. protect against fungal attack. In addition, direct proximity to other nightshade plants such as potatoes, tomatoes or aubergines should be avoided at all costs. On the other hand, carrots, zucchini, peas, leeks, onions and cabbage as well as basil, thyme and parsley are good neighbors for these plants.

planting

Pepper plants are heavy feeders. It is therefore beneficial to enrich the soil with plenty of manure or well-seasoned compost. Compost not only supplies the soil with nutrients, it also supports its water storage capacity and loosens it up. In addition, it is recommended to spread around 40 - 80 g of complete fertilizer per square meter before planting in order to meet the high nutrient requirements of chili and pepperoni.

  • The use of a black mulch film when planting in the bed is recommended
  • Foil promotes soil warming and earlier ripening
  • Soil is on average 2 degrees warmer, remains loose and does not dry out as quickly
  • This means that the plants grow optimally even in cooler temperatures
  • Leave mulch film on the bed throughout the season
  • Before laying, loosen the soil thoroughly and remove weeds
  • Lay out the foil and bury the edges or weigh them down with earth
  • in the next step, make small cross cuts in the foil at intervals of 40 - 50 cm
  • Cut only so that the plants just fit inside
  • insert the plants into these slots
  • The top edge of the root ball should be covered with soil about 1 cm thick
  • then water the plants

Of course you can also plant pepperoni and chili in the garden without foil. But then it makes sense to apply a layer of mulch after planting. To prevent the plants from buckling or breaking under the weight of the fruit, they are supported with small sticks.

Planting in the bucket

As an alternative to planting in beds, peppers can be cultivated very well in tubs. This is especially true for varieties with a long ripening period that are brought indoors in the fall, where they can continue to ripen for a few more weeks. This allows the number of ripe pods to increase again. Plants that you have grown yourself or that you have bought commercially can be used for planting in tubs or flower boxes. Pepper plants love warm soil and don't need too much room in the root zone, making them ideal plants for a container.

The planters should have a capacity of at least 5 liters and a depth of about 20 cm. They must have drainage holes, should not allow any water to evaporate through the pot walls and be able to store heat well, e.g. B. Black plastic pots.

The bottom layer forms a drainage of clay granules or coarse gravel. The substrate is placed on top of the drainage, ideally mixed with a long-term fertilizer. Now the plant can be used, just as deep as when planting in the bed. Planting distances of at least 45 cm are recommended for flower boxes. After planting, water the chilli or hot pepper plants well and place them in a sunny spot, for example in front of a sunny house wall. Potted plants also need supports to prevent them from buckling.

sowing

Instead of buying young plants, you can easily grow them yourself. To do this, sow the seeds in potting soil from the end of February and cover them lightly with soil, which should always be slightly moist. For optimal germination conditions, cover the seed pot with translucent foil, which is removed briefly every day to prevent mold growth. Then put the whole thing in a warm and bright place. At temperatures of 22 - 25 degrees, the germination period is about 1-2 weeks.

As soon as the seedlings have 2-3 leaves, they can be isolated in small pots with humus-rich, nutrient-rich soil and cultivated in a warm and bright place. When transplanting, you should be extremely careful not to break off the fine roots.

Before planting them in the garden or larger tubs, put them outside in a non-sunny spot for hours during the day to harden them off. The young plants can be planted in the greenhouse from around April and in the garden from mid-May. At appropriate intervals, they are planted a few centimeters deeper than they were in the pot.

Subsequent care is important to ensure that the young plants produce as many intensively coloured, narrowly cylindrical or spherical pods as possible. If mulch film was used during planting, this makes care much easier. Nevertheless, the right amount of watering and fertilizing can make the difference between success or failure in pepperoni and chilli cultivation.

pour

  • The water requirement is particularly high at the start of fruit formation and when the fruit is ripe
  • water regularly during the growth phase
  • Keep soil evenly moist
  • pour into the immediate root area
  • in this way, weeds can be prevented from spreading over large areas
  • Weeds can mean serious competition for chili and hot peppers
  • a mulch film can protect against this and keep the moisture in the soil longer
  • Mulch on the root area offers similar advantages
  • water more frequently in the summer months
  • This applies all the more to potted plants. The soil should neither dry out nor be waterlogged

The water supply is partly responsible for the spiciness of the pods, because the number of hot fruits increases in humid climates. This is a natural defense mechanism of plants that is intended to protect against fungal infections.

Fertilize

To cover the nutrient requirement, a depot or long-term fertilizer can be incorporated during planting, which continuously releases nutrients during the entire vegetation period. The additional incorporation of compost provides the plants with a basic supply of humus and nutrients.

During growth, foliar fertilization with nettle broth is a good idea, as it supplies the plants with all the important minerals. You just spray the leaves with it. During flowering, chillies and hot peppers need a lot of minerals and trace elements and little nitrogen. You do justice to this if you work rock flour into the soil. Too much fertilization before fruiting should be avoided, as it would result in increased leaf mass and fewer fruits.

Secure/increase fruit set

With one or the other little trick, the fruit set can be secured and, if necessary, increased. So you can plants in windless locations z. B. in a greenhouse, to help pollination by gently shaking them every now and then to better distribute the pollen.

It is often recommended to pinch off the very first flower, the so-called royal flower. However, it often throws the plant off on its own. It forms between the first branch. After removing this flower, the plant grows bushier and forms numerous branches. The plants may produce more fruits, but they are usually much smaller.

To cut

When it comes to the question of whether chili or hot pepper plants should be cut, opinions differ. The fact is that pepper plants are mainly cultivated as annuals and are disposed of after harvest. In principle, however, they can be cut back and cultivated for two or more years. Some species like Capsicum baccatum, Capsicum frutescens or Capsicum annuum have a strong tendency to shoot up. A cutback can be useful here.

This can be done before or after hibernation. To stop growth in height, cut them back from a size of 40-50 cm by cutting off the top above a leaf branch or growth node. Varieties such as Czechoslovakian Black and Jalapeño, if pruned back after the first harvest, can flower again and allow for a second harvest.

max out

Like pruning, pinching pepper plants is controversial. If you still want to try it, you should remove the stinging shoots (sterile side shoots) growing from the leaf axils of some plants and leave other plants untouched. So you can compare later and decide whether it's worth it or not. The best time to do this is early in the morning.

harvest time

At best, chillies and hot peppers are left to ripen on the plant for as long as possible; the longer they ripen, the more intense the spiciness of the pods. However, they should be harvested before the first night frosts and before they begin to shrivell. The situation is different for plants that overwinter indoors, there is no need to hurry here, the fruits can ripen in peace.

hibernate

For fast-growing varieties such as B. 'Jalapeno', 'Serrano' or 'Inferno' overwintering does not make sense, annual sowing is more efficient here. For all others, the effort of overwintering is worthwhile, provided they were cultivated in tubs or flower boxes. After harvesting, the plants are left outside in a sheltered spot for as long as possible. If the temperatures fall below 10 degrees, it is time to move to the winter quarters.

  • a bright and cool room with temperatures between 10 and 15 degrees is ideal
  • Temperatures below 10 degrees can affect growth and fruit formation in the following year
  • Temperatures of up to 20 degrees are no problem
  • substrates that are too moist or too dry in winter can lead to the death of the plants
  • before moving, the substrate should be dry rather than too moist
  • in cool winter quarters it takes a long time for the soil to dry out
  • the plants could die during this
  • Even during the winter, the substrate should be rather dry but not dry out
  • there is no fertilization in winter

If the temperatures in spring are permanently above 10 -15 degrees again, chillies and peppers can be repotted in slightly larger planters in fresh substrate and fertilized again. If the conditions during the winter are not optimal, pest infestation (aphids, whiteflies) can quickly occur. If there is an infestation, the plant should be cut back. As a rule, they then gradually shed their leaves, so that the pest infestation also decreases with the leaf fall.

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