Il chili pepper certainly represents one of the most popular condiments. Used to flavor a long series of recipes, thanks to its markedly spicy flavor, it has also been considered one of the best for centuries natural remedies more effective for health.
It has toning properties, can promote weight loss, protects veins and arteries and helps circulation. And why not then grow it in pots, to always have it available? But how to cure this plant over time?
As you can easily guess, chilli has origins in warm and sunny places in the world: for this reason, it is not easy to grow it in all areas of Italy. Consequently, it is important to ask your trusted botanical supplier for an opinion, so as to ensure that the climatic conditions of your place of residence are compatible with its growth.
Here are some useful tips.
What is chili
The term peperoncino indicates the common name of one berryproduced by several plants of the genus Capsicum. It is known to most for its spicy flavor, which can also become particularly intense depending on the variety.
In fact, there is a real unit of measurement of spiciness of the chili pepper, the so-called Scoville scale: thanks to this measurement, you can understand how intense the sensation of the dressing is on the palate.
The spicy flavor of the chilli is mostly due to capsaicin, a substance present in the berry in high concentrations. But what are the characteristics of the plant some chilli?
It is a medium height vegetable – about one meter if grown in the garden or about fifty centimeters if grown in pots – composed of many thin and erect stems, from which bright green and oval leaves emerge.
As already mentioned, the chili is nothing more than the berry produced by the plant: in spite of common beliefs, the growth takes place in the opposite direction to how one is used to seeing the chili. In fact, the fruit grows from the bottom up, in an upright position with respect to the stem that supports it, rather than hanging and leaning as one might think.
Almost all chillies originate from Central and South America, especially Mexico. Here it is not difficult to find spontaneous growth plants, even in urban centers. Its introduction in Europe follows the discovery of the Americas and, since then, it has been cultivated all over the world.
The berry can be eaten fresh, dried, powdered as a spice or as a basic ingredient in paprika. As already mentioned at the beginning, the chili is not chosen only for food, but also for curative purposes.
Most famous varieties of chili
But what are the most famous varieties of chili? There are several groups, which host very well-known types of condiment within them:
- Potato year: it is the most common and cultivated species, it has a medium spiciness and includes specimens such as Cayenna, Jalapeno, Serrano and Calabrian chilli;
- Capsicum berry: it is a chilli pepper grown mostly in Mexico, of medium spiciness and also known as Aji;
- Capsicum bush: it is the variety that is grown to obtain the Tabasco pepper and, of course, the relative sauce;
- Pubescent capsicum: always of medium spiciness, it is characterized by black seeds, very tall plants – even up to 2.5 meters – and by varieties such as Locato and Manzano;
- Capsicum chinense: the family of the hottest chillies of all, which includes specimens such as the very spicy habanero.
How to grow chili in pots
Growing hot peppers in pots is not difficult, although it will be necessary to ensure the plant some specific needs. For the purpose of self-production, there is always a tendency to prefer varieties of the species Potato yeareasier to grow.
But, once you have become familiar enough, you can also choose rarer peppers or peppers with greater needs.
Necessity of the plant
To ensure a good production of chillies even in pots, it is necessary to respect some requirements that the plant itself requires:
- Climate: chilli pepper is a plant that loves very hot, almost tropical climates, with high humidity levels. In summer there are no particular problems growing it on the boot but, of course, in winter the growth can only take place at home, in a grow-box or in a greenhouse;
- Ground: the berry needs a soft or medium-textured soil, highly draining as it does not tolerate stagnation of liquids. The soil must then be rich in nitrogenous components, also from sustainable fertilization such as compost;
- Solar exposure: chilli loves sun exposure, even in summer. However, when the sun’s rays appear too intense and the berries are not yet fully developed, it is advisable to prepare even a small space in the shade;
- Watering: but how many times do you water the chili pepper? This is one of the frequently asked questions that those who decide to start this self-production ask themselves. The requests for water are quite abundant, especially in the hottest months of the year: it will be necessary to wet the soil daily. At the same time, however, we must avoid wetting the leaves to prevent them literally cooking in the sun.
Grow in pots and in the garden
As already mentioned, growing chili is quite simple, both in vaso that in garden. In the first case, as usual, it is necessary to fill the bottom of the container with gravel or shards to facilitate the flow of water. In the garden, on the other hand, it is necessary to proceed with a preliminary fertilization, even with organic fertilizers such as compost, manure or guano.
Chilli is grown from seminar. After choosing a plant that is not too large in height, take a pepper seed and insert it about one centimeter below the surface of the soil.
If you live in very cold places, where the domestic temperature hardly exceeds 20 degrees, you can start from seedbed: between February and March, the seeds are inserted into a mixture of sand and peat and the sprouts appear, also with the help of halogen heating lamps for the vegetable garden.
Once the seedlings have appeared, in case you are growing in pots, it is necessary to expose them as much as possible to sunlight and keep them in warm and moderately humid rooms. The appearance of the first berries will then be summer, as temperatures close to 25 degrees are not necessary for the plant to enter its productive phase.
But what does it dore if you live in places where such temperatures are rare? Are there any chilli plants that can withstand the cold? Varieties of the species Pubescent capsicum they grow in mountainous areas of Mexico, even over 1,500 meters, so they are used to cooler climates.
But, of course, getting a satisfying harvest is difficult below 18-20 degrees.
Chilli care over time
Ma how to take care of our chili plant over time, what precautions must we take so that the harvest is always luxuriant and, above all, the vegetable itself does not wither?
- Exposure and shelter: the pot of chillies must always be exposed to the sun and left outside only at temperatures above 15-20 degrees;
- Pruning: to favor a greater branching and a more intense production of chillies, in spring it is useful to cut the stems approximately in half, just above a knot. This will result in the growth of more branches ready to generate berries;
- ParasitesChilli plants are often attacked by aphids, scale insects and whiteflies. All insects that can be countered with water and Marseille soap or, again, with 5 ml of neem oil diluted in water;
- Watering: occur when needed, when the soil appears dry. In summer you will have to proceed daily, preferring the early hours of the morning or after sunset;
- Fertilization: at least once a month, it is useful to fertilize the soil with organic fertilizer such as compost;
- Support: if the plant is too tall, or tends to fall under its weight, small bamboo supports can be used to fix the stems.
Source: GreenStyle by www.greenstyle.it.
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