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Sow chillies now

30 January 2015

Sow chillies now to turn up the heat in the garden this year to the max. There can be few veg which are as much sheer fun to grow as chillies. There's the fun of choosing from the many varieties on offer in your garden centre here, from relatively mild Anaheim and Jalapeno peppers to fiercely hot Scotch Bonnets. There's also the fun of handing a super-hot Bhut Jolokia or Dorset Naga to your nearest and dearest to sample and watching as their eyes start to water.

Chillies need a long growing season to do well, so sow them early - but they also need a nice warm temperature to get going. A heated propagator (pick one up while you're here) with the thermostat set to 20°C should do the job: after that, keep them as warm as possible to avoid checks in growth.

Grow in a greenhouse if you can, or failing that a sunny windowsill, and water only when the compost has begun to dry out. Feed with dilute liquid tomato fertiliser once flowers appear, then wait for the chillies to turn bright red (or yellow, depending on variety) to give the full heat a chance to develop.

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