The 2020 Chilli Growing Season Has Begun

Well, it only seems like yesterday when I was taking down last year's plants, and here we are again. After spending the last week contemplating on which new varieties to grow this year I finally got around to sowing the seeds yesterday evening, and so it's official — the 2020 chilli growing season has begun! This year, I'll be growing a few more plants than usual, which means I'll also have to buy a walk-in plastic greenhouse.

Compost Mixture - 6th February 2020
Compost Mixture - 6th February 2020

This year, I'll be growing some of my trusty old favourites, revisiting some old friends and trying eight new varieties. I won't be posting photos of the new varieties until much later in the season when I know for certain that they're true to type. Until then I'll probably just post an occasional group shot of the new varieties. The problem is that if any of them don't turn out to be true then it will end up skewing the blog, and we can't have that.

Here's a list of all the varieties that were sown yesterday evening:
  • Aji Arnaucho
  • Aji Cajamarca
  • Aji Largo
  • Aji Limo
  • Aji Mochero
  • Alberto's Locoto
  • Aribibi Gusano
  • Caribbean Red Habanero
  • Chocolate Habanero
  • Dwarf Chiltepin
  • Fidalgo Roxa
  • Habanero Numero Diez
  • Inca Red Drop
  • Mako Akokosrade
  • Mini Rocoto Brown
  • Naga Khorika
  • Paper Lantern
  • Peach Habanero
  • Red Mayan Habanero
  • Ring of Fire
  • Heat n' Neat
  • Yellow Jelly Bean Habanero

As you can no doubt see, I'm not growing any superhot varieties this year. Superhots are not my go-to chillies for every day cooking, plus I've barely scratched the surface of the ones I grew last year. I mostly use them in hot sauces to give an added kick, and believe it or not I still have some of the Dorset Naga chillies in the freezer from 2018. I guess it just goes to show how often I cook with superhots.

When I started growing chillies I spent the first three years growing mostly superhot varieties, and then towards the end of 2012 something changed. Up until that point I'd been cooking with superhots on an almost daily basis for three years and I just got fed up of them. Watching the Moruga Scorpions, Trinidad 7-Pots, Infinities and Bhut Jolokias going through the ripening process didn't fill me with any joy whatsoever, but when it came to the Orange Habaneros and Caribbean Reds it was a very different story. That year I ended up giving most of the superhots away and I didn't grow any more until 2015, and even then it was just one Dorset Naga plant.

Anyway, as is usually the case for me, all plant pots, clear plastic cups (used to cover the plant pots), plastic plant labels and heated propagator were sterilised using a mild bleach solution and then thoroughly rinsed. The compost was sterilised in the oven at 150C for one hour and then left to cool.

Sterilised Plant Pots and Clear Plastic Cups - 6th February 2020
Sterilised Plant Pots and Clear Plastic Cups - 6th February 2020

The heated propagator is almost filled to maximum capacity this year and I only have enough space for another four pots, which is just as well really because I'll be growing two plants of some varieties. I used to use seed cell trays for germinating seeds, but given the small size of each cell I found that the compost used to dry out too easily. I could really use another heated propagator to go with the one I've already got. It would make things much easier.

Chilli Seeds Sown - 6th February 2020
Chilli Seeds Sown - 6th February 2020

The days are slowly drawing out now and it's approximately 42 days until Jesus passes over the celestial equator and back into the Northern Hemisphere, and when that happens spring will have officially sprung. I wish you all a wonderful 2020 growing season and may all your harvests be bountiful. All hail Spaceship Earth. All hail the Chilli Gods.