I’m no lover of hot chillies but my stepson Ali must have no tastebuds left. He is obsessed and his fiery culinary creations have been known to make his friends cry and ruin their digestive tracts.
He claims his flat’s weekly ingestion of chillies is:
Occasionally exceeds 100 (for three of them);
An average chilli/fajita/stir fry contains 30-40 ‘small ones’, not including loads of chilli flakes and powder.
I’ve grown the tame but nice Loco before, but for Christmas I thought I’d push him to his limit by attempting to grow Trinidad Moruga Scorpion (Plant World Seeds, £3.15) from seed.
It has an enormous Scoville rating (the official scale of how hot a chilli is) of between 1,200,000 to 2,000,000 SHU.
The fruit produced are quite small and lumpy, maturing from lime green to bright red. Once you get past the burn, they have a pleasant fruity flavour.
Super hot chillies need a long season to mature, so surface sow in January (save half your seeds so you have time for another go in February if the first lot fail).
They also need a great deal of heat to germinate, so thank goodness for the BioGreen propagator – you need a bottom heat of between 27ºC to 32ºC, 24 hours a day.
Once the seedlings are established, pot on quickly, lower the heat and move them to a sunny windowsill.
I kept the heat in and the air circulating by rigging up a small seed tray with two small lids propped over it and the lot covered with a bag of bubble wrap.
It worked – all five germinated after 11 days.
It is also important to wash your hands well after touching the chilli seeds (or wear gloves) and avoid your eyes!
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JOBS TO DO THIS WEEKEND
Prune late summer-flowering clematis. To keep your clematis small and to rejuvenate old plants, cut back hard to about a foot off the ground. if you want to keep them taller, just prune last year’s flowered shoots.
Clear alpine beds of debris and cover bare patches with gritty compost. Remove weeds before mulching in spring.
Keep containers tidy, cutting back and removing dead leaves. Mulch with grit – it looks good and reduces surface puddling after heavy rain.
Watch out for downy mildew and black spot on winter pansies. Remove infected leaves and destroy badly affected plants.
Prune Wisteria – cut back side shoots shortened by summer pruning to two or three buds. Don’t cut off flower buds!
Ornamental vines, ivy, Virginia creeper and Boston ivy can be cut back now – keep them away from windows, doors, gutters and roof tiles.
Coral spot is often noticed on twigs from deciduous hedges, shrubs, and trees, connected with poor ventilation and congested, twiggy growth inside clipped hedges.
Cacti need very little water, and no feeding, during winter. Keep them barely moist until spring.