This week we managed to harvest a number of chillies, the majority of which were from our Portugal and Gorria plants we have growing in a Chilligrow, there was also a Hungarian black to harvest as well as a surprise in the form of two red padron chillies.
The two padrons were a surprise because this variety of chilli generally doesn’t ripen through to red in a UK climate, as a result they are usually picked green. As it is unusual to get a fully mature fruit from this variety I will be using this fruit to harvest seeds for next year. To do this I first need to separate the seeds from the flesh, I use a knife to scrape the seeds from inside. You need to take care doing this as stray splashes of capsaicin will undoubtedly find your eyes (wearing goggles is a good idea).
The seeds need to be as dry as possible to help prevent them from going mouldy, to do this towel them off in a piece of kitchen towel. Once the all the flesh has been removed you will need to place them on a tray and keep them in a warm, dry and dark place, an airing cupboard is perfect for this, you just need to keep them well ventilated by regularly turning them. The other chillies will be dried in a similar way ready to be used as chilli flakes.
Also this week we had our first ripe cucumber measuring in at 30cm, there are three more almost ready to harvest and many more flowers producing fruit, they will be ready to harvest when they reach 20cm long.
This week has seen a number of pests in our polytunnel; the first was the appearance of slugs in our chilligrow. This was to be expected as the recent wet weather is perfect for slugs and chillies are a favourite meal for them. To stop any further attacks I used Slug Gone pellets which act as a mulch around the base of the plant making it impossible for the slugs to reach the stem. These organic pellets are made from sheep’s wool and irritate the slugs as they move across them, handily they also act as a great mulch for your plants. The second pest we have had is flies, these don’t cause any real damage to the plants instead they are just a nuisance, using a couple of yellow sticky traps should take care of them. Interestingly flies are used in commercial horticulture to pollinate plants en masse; the physical presence of swarms of flies will knock the flowers leading to pollination.
Elsewhere in the polytunnel things are looking great, we have a couple of jobs to do to keep things healthy. Firstly the Brandywine tomatoes growing in our Quadgrow are slowly ripening up, the temperature here in lancashire has gone through the roof but the tomatoes are copping very well and all this heat is really helping our fruit to ripen up. To give the plants a helping hand and aid circulation (botrytis at this point would be devastating) I have removed all the lower leaves of the plant, these were starting to turn yellow as the plant concentrated its energy on the fruit higher up.
The cucumbers have also reached the maximum height I am willing to let them grow to, therefore I have cut the growing tip out this will mean all the plants will concentrate their energy on developing fruit rather than more growth, this should also mean that there is enough time in the season for the fruit to develop and ripen.
One last thing for this blog, with the heat wave the UK is currently experiencing spare a thought for your plants who will be racing through the water reservoirs quicker than ever. Make sure they are regularly topped up or for a little extra peace of mind consider installing a Holiday Watering Kit.