The hot topic of chillies

Chillies are easy to grow are colourful and don't take up much space.
Chillies are easy to grow are colourful and don't take up much space.

CHILLIES are a popular crop to grow.

They don't take up a lot of space, so it's easy to grow a selection of different varieties in a season.

They are very decorative and are useful in the kitchen.

Chillies originated in South America and have spread throughout the world in the past 500 years or so.

They are now an integral part of the cuisine of many different countries, particularly those with warm climates where they are most readily grown.

The fruit usually start out green and can be harvested at this stage. If left to ripen on the plant, the fruit will turn yellow, orange, purple, black or red, depending on the variety.

The colourful, fully ripe fruit are generally hotter and have a more intense flavour than the green ones.

Chillies enjoy similar conditions to tomatoes and capsicum.

A warm, sunny position in a pot or garden bed is ideal.

They don't need much in the way of care and attention.

They are a warm-season plant and can look a bit shabby during winter.

I usually trim mine back quite hard and let them re-shoot in spring.

They do like a humid environment, so you can plant them quite close together to foster this.

Keeping the soil mulched will also be beneficial.

Chillies make good companions for eggplant, cucumber, tomato, okra, squash, basil, oregano and parsley.

They also like geraniums, petunias, lovage, carrots and onions.

Keep them away from beans, broccoli, cabbage and fennel.

The heat level of the different varieties of chillies is measured in Scoville Units, in a method developed by Wilbur Scoville in 1912.

When you read about the heat of chillies, the Scoville scale is usually translated into a scale of 1-10, with 1 being the mildest and 10 being the hottest.

At the mild end of the heat scale, you will find the Sweet Temptation, scoring a 2-3.

If you like something with a bit of bite, you might enjoy the Jalapenos.

They are cylindrically shaped, about 5-8cm long, and turn from dark green to red when ripe. They get a heat rating of 4-5.

A little further along are the Caysan chillies, a fruit about 5-7cm long, turning bright red when cooked.

I planted one of these last year and found that I used it far more than the habaneros and the birds eyes, because it had some heat but not too much.

After a hard trim in winter, it is coming back nicely and bearing well.

Habaneros are very hot, a 9 on the heat scale.

They are an interesting lantern shape and there are a few different types, producing fruit that may be orange, red, yellow or brown when ripe.

Also up there at the dangerous end of the heat scale is the Birds Eye, a short, tapered, red chilli that is only about 2-3cm long. The bush, to 1-1.5m tall, bears prolifically.

Be careful when handling chillies, as the juice can be highly irritating to the skin and the eyes.


>> To read more lifestyle stories

Topics:  crops garden gardening lifestyle plants

'Personal attacks': Break-ins force popular restaurant to close

SAD ENDING: Peter Hagan has closed his business Tapas De Vino after is was broken into.

BREAK-INS wear on local business owner's health, and money.

Time for a Fair Go, Prime Minister

DEAR Prime Minister, Welcome to Rockhampton.

Truckloads of WICET gear was up for grabs

HELPING HAND: Russell James, Clinton State School deputy principal John Fry, principal Heidi James,  with WICET's Sarah Wheatley and co-workers who delivered the donated furniture  to the school.

WICET made the calls to offer truckloads of pre-loved gear.

Local Partners

ABBA to reunite for virtual live experience


ABBA have confirmed they are to reunite - in virtual reality form

Hugh Laurie receives star on Hollywood Walk of Fame

Hugh Laurie on the Hollywood Walk of Fame

Hugh Laurie and his star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame

Blake Lively hosts 40th party for Ryan Reynolds

Blake Lively throws husband Ryan Reynold's 40th birthday bash

What's on the big screen this week

Benedict Cumberbatch in a scene from the movie Doctor Strange.

MARVEL'S latest superhero Doctor Strange makes his debut.

Trump 'worked like hell' to pick up John Travolta's wife

John Travolta and Kelly Preston

Trump wrote comments in tribute to Travolta's son Jett

RECAP: The Bachelorette S2E11 - top three battle it out

The Bachelorette finalists, from left, Matty Johnson, Lee Elliott and Jake Ellis.

It's Matty, Lee or Jake. Who will Georgia choose?

OPINION: Banks fear Gladstone future: Councillor

REGIONAL Queensland deserves a helping hand on housing.

Bank reclaims Goondoon St complex plan, places on the market

Multi-million dollar development plan up for sale.

MULTI-MILLION dollar plan for Goondoon St complex on the market.

Tough times in CBD: Woolies says goodbye Ipswich

Woolworths in the Ipswich Mall.Photo: Rob Williams / The Queensland Times

The last day of trading will be January 1

Coles to pay new owner of Tannum servo $320K

UP FOR GRABS: Expressions of interest in Tannum's new service station, which will house the new Coles Express, closed this month.

INVESTORS bid for new Tannum service station under construction.

Look at me! Kath and Kim home up for sale

Kath and Kim from the iconic Aussie TV series.

'Crack open the Baileys and grab a box of BBQ Shapes'

How to fit 100,000 new homes on the Coast

Property, real estate, housing, suburb,  August 2016

Fitting 2m extra people in south-east Qld in 25 years a balance