Chili, the most popular pepper

The chili is the pepper that not everyone would like to have on their plate. The taste can be very pungent, to the point that, almost unintentionally, a farmer has created one that a single bite could cause you a serious problem .

However, the plants of the Capsicum genus, which are the ones that produce these vegetables, also have many followers. So how are they grown? 

Index

  • 1 Characteristics of the chilli pepper
    • 1.1 Main species and cultivars
  • 2 Why is it so spicy?
  • 3 How is it grown?
    • 3.1 Seeding
    • 3.2 Transplantation
      • 3.2.1 Transplantation to pots
      • 3.2.2 Planting in the garden
    • 3.3 Maintenance
    • 3.4 Harvest

Characteristics of the chilli pepper

Different cultivars of chillies

The chilli pepper, also known as chili pepper or chile, is the fruit of the species of the genus Capsicum . These plants are native to the tropical and subtropical regions of America, and can be herbaceous or shrubby, with a normally annual cycle, although if the conditions are right they can live for several years.

It grows very quickly up to 2-4m . They have branched stems, with 4-12cm long solitary or opposite leaves, with petioles. The flowers sprout at the nodes of the leaves with the stem, and are made up of 4-5 petals (depending on the species and/or the cultivar) of white, yellow, blue, violet or bicolor.

The fruit, the so-called chilli pepper, is a hollow fleshy berry that turns yellow, orange, red or violet when ripe and can measure up to 15cm long. The seeds are flattened and yellowish.

Main species and cultivars

There are five species that are specially cultivated, which are:

  • Capsicum anuum : which includes such well-known cultivars as the cayenne, jalapeño or chile de arbol.
  • Capsicum baccatum – which includes the South American yellow.
  • Capsicum chinense : which includes the hottest ones, such as habanero or naga jolokia.
  • Capsicum frutescens : includes malagueta or bird’s eye.
  • Capsicum pubecens – which includes the South American hot peppers and the apple tree grown in Mexico.

Why is it so spicy?

There are peppers that are not hot, and there are others that are too hot. For what is this? To a substance called capsaicin , which is concentrated in the whitish part inside the fruit, in small vesicles. Although up to ten different compounds have been discovered, this is the one that stings the most .

Depending on the variety and cultivar, even the person himself, he will bite more or less. The Scoville Scale is a measure of how hot peppers are based on how much capsaicin they contain . It was named in 1912 by Wilbur Scoville, who developed the Scoville Organoleptic Test, which consists of diluting a chili extract in sugar water until the heat can no longer be detected by a committee of examiners usually made up of five members.

So, for example, the jalapeño pepper has up to 5,000 on the scale, which means that the extract was diluted up to 5,000 times.

How is it grown?

chili seeds

Capsicum anuum seeds

Growing this plant is really simple, as you will see below:

Sowing

Chilli seeds must be sown in spring in a seedbed. As such, you can use a seed tray, pots, yogurt or milk containers,… Regardless of what we use, it must have a hole for water drainage.

Once the seedbed has been chosen, we have to do the following:

  1. The first thing is to fill it with universal cultivation substrate (or garden substrate) that we will find for sale in any nursery or garden store.
  2. Then, we place the seeds on the surface leaving a distance of three centimeters between them.
  3. Next, we cover them a little , just enough so that the wind does not blow them away.
  4. Now, we put the seedling in a tray or on a plate.
  5. And finally we water from below , that is, directing the water towards the interior of the tray or plate.

The seeds will germinate throughout the week .

Transplant

When the plants have reached a height of about 10cm, we can move them to individual pots or to the garden. How to proceed in each case?:

transplant to pots

  1. We carefully extract them from the seedbed . In the event that two have grown together, we can carefully remove the substrate from the roots and separate them.
  2. Now, we fill the pot , which must be at least 30cm in diameter, with a universal growing medium mixed with 30% perlite.
  3. Then, with your fingers or a small stick, make a hole in the center . It doesn’t have to be too deep, just deep enough for the plant to sit well, that is, not too high or too low from the edge of the container.
  4. Then we plant the plant.
  5. Finally, we water well and place it in an area with a lot of light but where it can be protected from direct sun until growth is seen.

Plant in the garden

  1. First of all, you have to prepare the ground . To do this, the stones and weeds must be removed, and the drip irrigation system installed.
  2. Now, we can plant the chillies in rows , leaving a distance of about 40cm between them.
  3. Then, we water them conscientiously , soaking the soil well.
  4. In order for it to grow well, it is advisable to spread a layer of organic fertilizer about 2cm thick , such as manure .

Maintenance

Now that the plants are in their final locations, we need to know how to care for them. So that problems do not arise, we recommend the following:

  • Watering : watering must be frequent, 3-4 times a week.
  • Subscriber : as they are plants whose fruits are for human consumption, they have to be fertilized with organic fertilizers. If they are in a pot, those that are sold in liquid form will be used so that the drainage remains good; On the other hand, if they are in the garden, powdered fertilizers can be used.
  • Pruning : not necessary.

Harvest

chili plant in bloom

The time to harvest the chillies will depend on the species and the cultivar, but in general we can start harvesting them 3-4 months after sowing , when they already have their final color.

Chili, the most popular pepper

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