Late Maturing Scotch Bonnets

Home Grown Chillies

In February this year, I planted an array of different Chilli types in an experiment to see what kind of results I would get. Having grown Cayenne’s only last year, I was excited to see what was going to happen. I wanted to establish the early/late bloomers, the high/low yields, the styles of growing, and the different techniques I would need in order to make each type successful in their Irish surroundings. Well after a great growing season, (more on this on my basic growing page) we are now in November and whilst most Chilli activity has substantially slowed down, some of my plants are showing no sign of calling it a day!

I knew from the start that a few would take a lot longer to germinate and therefore longer until they produced Chilli Ninja Chillies, such as the Scotch Bonnet, Habanero, Fatalii etc.  This has worked in my favour as I also wanted to challenge myself and keep a few plants to over winter them and see if I can use them again in 2012 – something I’ve never bothered with before.

Late Pollination

Right now I have Habanero Whites, Scotch Bonnets & Jamaican Reds all producing quite impressive fruit for the time of year.  I attribute this to a few things:

I moved house in April and although I kept all my plants to similar surroundings, I have found that you get the best results when you keep the conditions constant without disturbing them too much. Also like I mentioned, these particular varieties are notoriously hard to grow in Ireland’s climate (however, contrary to the common view, we do get some stunning weather here to go with the laughable amounts of sideways rain. Just think though, Ireland wouldn’t be soo green otherwise so that’s how I look at it) Since I don’t believe in going out and spending loads on specialist lighting and growing contraptions I am at the mercy of the weather but I like to rock it ‘old skool’ and keep it as natural as possible. Some day though, I’ll have 4 green houses & a huge polytunnel and have them full to the teeth with a forest of Chillies! My wife will have to get her own polytunnel, fact.

Home Grown Chillies

Anyway, back to the story at hand. I’m very happy that I managed to grow these searingly hot Chillies and I know that next season I will maximise the growing time and try a few things to help them germinate quicker. As always I will share my findings and experiences here at Chilli Ninja.

These pods are not for those of you who dabble and don’t mind a wee bit of heat as they are almost inedible! I use them in hot pots, soups and dishes like Jambalaya were you can make a big batch at once. I read that a lot of West Indians have been cooking that way and use Chillies like the Jamaican Reds I’m growing and just pop them whole into big pots of food.

Since I am getting lots of Chillies still, I’ll post some great recipes over the next while. Do any of you have any particular uses for these Chilli types? Or have you any experience with over wintering? I’d love to know.

Altogether, it’s great to still have fresh Chillies to heat up our winter comfort food. Chillininja

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5 thoughts on “Late Maturing Scotch Bonnets

  1. I reckon you should go to your local farmer’s market and sell your fresh chillies, dried chillies, you delicious looking bread too! Maybe make some chutneys or something! If I lived in Ireland I’d definitely buy some!

    • Chilli Ninja says:

      That’s very nice of you to say! I like the idea of maybe selling some at a market and it’s something that I want to do during the 2012 growing season. Hopefully I can find people like you who would like to buy them! I have in the past swapped some of my plants with other food growers for some of their produce.

  2. CaramelUK says:

    Really good blog, have been reading it, as I was looking for some advice on my Scotch Bonnet, it was attacked by Aphids last summer, didn’t know what they were until reading your blog. At the end of summer I put my plant in a bigger pot, and it has kept growing over winter although not had a chilli yet I presume that will happen over the winter. My whole purpose for growing the scotch bonnet is to cook with so I don’t have to keep buying them. In some of the West Indian receipes, although the whole chilli is put in, it is normally removed before serving. i normally make curry and put a scotch bonnet in to it, so the anticipation of cooking with something I have grown is immense. Hopefully this summer it will produce some chilli’s. not really sure about the best thing to do with the plant, but it seems to be growing well.

    • Chilli Ninja says:

      Hi there! First of all, well done in managing to over winter your Chilli plant to the point that it is growing well again. I normally cut them all back to a bare stalk and they revive themselves come Spring the following year. You may have read the post. Yes Aphids can be such a devastating bunch when they get hold of your beloved plants.
      Scotch Bonnets are excellent for cooking with and especially as you say with Caribbean dishes. The orange variety which I have been growing for a few years now is a well rounded, hardy plant that seems to do great in this part of the world despite being a scorching hot Chilli, which normally means it needs super hot conditions to grow properly.
      My advice for your plant is to just continue to let it grow and as it is now getting nicely into Spring, give it as much heat and direct sun as possible. It should bear fruit later on in the summer time. I had a Cayenne plant that did nothing one year but produced perfectly the next. If you want to send a pic or two to my email address I could have a glance at it and see if there is anything that could be done to maximise it’s fruiting possibilities for this year. thechillininja at gmail dot com
      I would also plant some fresh seeds before the end of Feb to give yourself more chance of success.
      Thanks for your interest in my blog and good luck for this growing season.

  3. Chilli Ninja says:

    Hi again CaramelUK! Thanks for sending the pics. Well, it looks like at one stage one of your plants was showing good signs with a few flowers making an appearance. Although as you found out, sometimes it doesn’t mean that you will get chillies in the end. Just a question, did you keep the plant inside the whole time?, because if so you need to hand pollinate the flowers or they will never produce pods. This is quite easy – if you get flowers again this year, wait until they are well open then take a cotton bud or your small finger, lightly dampen it with water, and touch the middle of each flower gently. The idea here is to do the job of a bee or other flying insects that land on the flowers and move from one to the next, which mixes the pollen and kickstarts the pod growing process!

    Ok with regards to how it looks now, it is a bit leggy and normally it is better practice to try and encourage the plant to a more bushy shape rather than let one part grow up and up, even though you have done a great job keeping it upright. I would definitely have pruned it back a lot before the winter started but the fact that it has made it through at this size is great. I would still prune it a wee bit in certain places to encourage new growth.

    Overall I think you definitely have every chance of chillies this year because the leaves look healthy and the plant strong. I hope this has helped and I’d love to hear of your progress this year!

    Chilli Ninja.

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