Chilli Harvest - 10th September 2014
This website (spicemad.com) is where I (Spicemad) keep a journal on the progress of my chilli plants each season. Most of the content here is about the plants, but sometimes I post other chilli related stuff too, such as the occasional hot and spicy recipe and my opinions pertaining to all things spicy. I live in North Wales, UK and have been growing chilli plants every year since 2009.

When on the home page you're viewing the actual blog. This is where I post updates on the chilli plants throughout the growing season, and occasionally other chilli related stuff too. On the home page, you will see some red navigation links below the blog title (SPICEMAD). These links lead to other areas of the website, which is comprised of pages and not blog posts. You can also find the same navigation links (plus a few more) in the sidebar, which can be accessed by clicking the white hamburger button to the top left of the blog title. In the sidebar, you can also find a list of commonly used labels on the blog and also an archive of blog posts going back to February 2018. By scrolling down to the bottom of the sidebar you can also view the image count (the number of images currently on the website) and the date in which the website was last updated.

Who Is Spicemad?

Spicemad is my pseudonym. My real name is John and I began using the pseudonym of 'Spicemad' in early 2009 whilst registering on a chilli growing forum. I needed a new username and it was the first one that popped into my head. Ever since then, people have referred to me as 'Spice', 'Spicy' or 'Spicemad' (amongst other names which are too crude to mention here). If you've come to this website looking to buy synthetic cannabinoids then I'm sorry to disappoint you. Still, I'm sure you'll find what you're looking for eventually, just not on here.

What Is This Website About?

This website (spicemad.com) is all about chilli peppers — a place where you can find chilli-based recipes, information on different chilli varieties, thousands of chilli pepper photos, and more. It all began back in 2017 whilst tidying up the hard drive on my laptop. I noticed that I had a few thousand photos of chilli plants going back to 2012. Previously, some of the photos had been shown on a forum, on photo sharing websites, such as Photobucket and Flickr, and in Facebook groups. However, by 2017 they'd all been removed from the aforementioned websites for one reason or another, and the only person who ever got to see them was me. It was at that point when I had the idea of creating a website, and after much contemplation I eventually created this one in early 2018. I thought it would be a fun idea to post updates on the progress of my chilli plants each season, and also to share information and spicy recipes with other chilli-heads.

You can view photos of some chilli varieties I've grown since 2012 by visiting the grow list page. That was the year when I first started saving photos of the chilli plants. All photos from the three previous growing seasons were taken using a shitty mobile phone camera and have long since vanished. You can also view a list of the chilli varieties I'm growing this season too, if you're interested. Each season, I like to grow some of my trusty old favourites and introduce at least one new variety to the tribe. I've grown and tried lots of different chilli varieties, but my favourite is the Chocolate Habanero. I'm not obsessed with superhot varieties like some people are, and nor do I have any interest in all of the countless superhot hybrids that exist today.

I've never really been one for 'chasing the heat'. I do grow superhot varieties which I use in my cooking occasionally, but I have no interest in growing the current world's hottest chilli just for the sake of it. In my opinion, there are several superhot varieties that have the genetic potential to all become the world's hottest chilli. Call me a cynic, but many of the world's hottest chillies have always been associated with people who either sell chilli seeds, chilli-based products or both. It's an effective way to get people's attention and put your business on the map. Even those who already market chilli sauces and other chilli-based products can still benefit from such a creation by marketing new products which contain said world's hottest chilli. I tend to favour the old-school superhot varieties over the new countless superhot hybrids that exist today. I often wonder whether some superhot varieties were created by placing seeds inside a nuclear reactor for gene alterations. It would add a whole new meaning to the label of 'nuclear hot'... 😁

Where Do You Grow Your Chilli Plants?

Some seasons I may only grow chilli plants indoors in windows and in a small porch, and other seasons I may grow them indoors and outdoors in a walk-in plastic greenhouse and in the garden. Capsicum pubescens varieties and some of the wild varieties are typically grown outside in the garden. However, all other varieties are typically grown indoors or outdoors under cover. I use a bog-standard heated propagator for germinating the chilli seeds, and all seeds, regardless of the species, are typically sown at the same time, somewhere between the beginning of January and the middle of February. On rare occasions, I may start the chilli seeds off under grow lights, and in such cases I normally stagger the sowing times for each species. Most of the chillies I harvest are frozen, but some are pickled and some are also dried. The frozen chillies are used up over the following months in my hot sauce recipe and in general day-to-day cooking.

Chilli Pepper Art

How Did You Develop an Interest in Chillies?

I've always enjoyed spicy food, even from an early age. Curry was and still is one of my favourite foods. When I was growing up, the type of curries that most people cooked in the UK were the typical Anglo-Indian curries made using commercially sold curry powder. These types of curries were simple to make and usually contained pre-cooked meat, sultanas and large chunks of fried onion. They were normally served with plain boiled rice or chips.

In my late teens, someone bought me a curry book, and most of the recipes listed within called for exotic ingredients that I'd never heard of before. For that reason, the book was shelved for several months, and then for Christmas my younger brother (RIP) bought me an Indian cookery book that came in a box with small bags of sample spices. It was around that time when I first got into cooking and on Boxing Day I made a vindaloo and everyone complained because it was too spicy and didn't contain enough salt. "Why does it have little pieces of wood in it? It's like eating potpourri!"

About three weeks later, when all of the sample spices had ran out, I went shopping at a Chinese owned international food store and was able to purchase most of the Indian spices I needed in much larger bags. Spices were all very new to me back then and it took several weeks before I was finally able to memorise what each one was. Fenugreek seed was always easy to remember because of its distinct curry-like aroma, but I often got confused between green cardamom and clove.

The types of chilli peppers available at the supermarkets in North Wales at the time were Bird's Eye, Cayenne, Jalapeño, and numerous hybrid varieties, including red or green finger chillies. On very rare occasions, it was also possible to find Habaneros or Scotch Bonnets, and whenever I stumbled across them I would always purchase several bags. Due to all the curry cooking I was doing at the time I became accustomed to using chilli peppers on a regular basis and was rarely ever without them.

Although I've been growing finger chillies and Scotch Bonnets since around 1994, my interest in growing chilli plants didn't develop properly until 2008, after reading an article in a newspaper about a variety being touted as the hottest in the world — the Dorset Naga! This came as a big surprise to me because prior to that time I'd always been led to believe that Habaneros and Scotch Bonnets were the hottest chillies known to man. Knowing that Dorset Naga chillies wouldn't be for sale in the shops or supermarkets in North Wales I decided to look for more information about them online. It wasn't very long before I discovered a website selling fresh ones, and so I purchased two bags of them, along with a bag of mild Habaneros.

The much-awaited day came when they finally arrived in the post. I removed them from the box and placed them into a small fruit bowl on the kitchen table. They were a real thing of beauty! Being the keen gardener that he was, my dad (RIP) was very intrigued by them, and so naturally he became the first person to try a piece. After a few seconds of chewing, his face turned bright red, his eyes started watering, and with a look of sheer disgust and horror on his face, he spat it out and said, "Whoever eats these things has got a fucking death wish!"

That very same evening, I added one to a chicken phall curry and was blown away by the searing heat and amazing flavour. After tasting the Dorset Naga chilli for the first time I instantly knew what the local Bangladeshi owned Indian takeaway was using to spice up the chicken vindaloo with extra chilli that I ordered on very rare occasions — Naga Morich. It all made perfect sense given how the Dorset Naga is a selectively grown Bangladeshi Naga Morich and that Bangladeshi's hold Naga Morich in very high regard, often referring to it as the 'queen of chillies'. Naga Morich chillies can sometimes be seen at Indian grocery stores in a basket lined with a gold or silver cloth next to the checkout, and they are nearly always sold at the green stage.

That same year, I purchased several more bags of Dorset Naga chillies and took seeds from two or three of the largest ripe pods and dried them out so that I could grow my own plants the following year. In the months leading up to March 2009, I spent a lot of time watching chilli reviews on YouTube and purchased seeds for many more chilli varieties, most of which were very hot ones and nearly all of which I'd never heard of before.

During the first week of March 2009, I purchased a heated propagator and a bag of compost and sowed all of the chilli seeds. From memory, the varieties sown that year were: Trinidad 7-Pot, Trinidad Scorpion, Bhut Jolokia, Chocolate Bhut Jolokia, Dorset Naga, Naga Morich, Fatalii, Caribbean Red Habanero, Orange Habanero, Aji Lemon, Golden Cayenne, Jalapeño, Prairie Fire and Chiltepin. Within three weeks of sowing the seeds all varieties had germinated. The plants were grown on windowsills in 3-litre pots, and all except for the Tepin plants produced fruit. In their first year the Tepin plants were nothing more than tall stems, but I kept them over winter and the following spring re-potted them into much larger pots. Eventually, they turned into large bushes and produced hundreds of pea-sized chillies which ripened from dark green to bright red.

After my first growing season, I became addicted to growing chilli plants and my obsession with them still continues to this day. Contemplating on which new varieties to grow at the end of each season, and looking forward to sowing the seeds, helps me through the dark times of winter, as I imagine it does with many chilli-heads. Most of the chilli-heads I know sow their seeds in late winter and then check on them several times a day like expecting parents. I don't consider myself to be an expert on growing chilli plants, I just grow them as a hobby and also because I love eating chillies. The whole thing is a journey and a learning curve for me, and each season I always seem to learn something new. Growing chilli plants is great fun! There are literally thousands of chilli varieties in the world, and so finding new ones to grow is never difficult.

Anyway, if you've managed to read until the end then I congratulate you! Nowadays, most people have the attention span of a gnat and would rather sit and watch a video on YouTube, Facebook or TikTok than read an actual webpage. Give it a couple of decades and most of the bipedal herd animals roaming around on this planet will no longer be able to read and write. Instead, they'll just be a bunch of narcissistic, dumbed-down consumers who only know how to find the settings and the report button on social media platforms. If you'd like to get in touch for any reason then please feel free to do so. You can find my email address on the contact page.

If one day you figure out that you're stuck on an eternal merry-go-round then it's okay to imagine yourself being somewhere else from time to time. ~ Spicemad 

Copyright ©: Please do not use my photos without my consent; this also includes embedding them into blog posts or pages without my consent. All photos and texts on this website are my copyright and may not be published or reproduced in any way without my express permission.

Chilli Harvest - 1st September 2023