The Chilli Guru

Chilli Cultivation

With five main cultivated species and many thousands of cultivars available, it is hardly surprising that one set of growing instructions will not be optimal for all. I have tried to highlight differences in requirements under my notes on individual species and cultivars.

Chillies are generally regarded as being a little more difficult to cultivate in the the UK than tomatoes, but with the right choice of cultivars and the right techniques success should be easy to achieve. If in doubt, start with the well known annuum varieties like Jalapeño and Cayenne. There are good reasons why these are so popular; they are tasty, versatile, productive and reliable.

Chillies generally need a bit more warmth than tomatoes, particularly early in the season. If this is a problem, avoid chinense and frutescens cultivars as these are more demanding. No amount of advice can fully replace experience, so start with what you can manage and gradually get more adventurous each year.

On the following pages we offer advice on cultivation techniques, composts, fertilizers and more. You will, of course, get different advice from different sources; as a general rule celebrity gardeners are not specialists, and their advice is not always the best. Ultimately all advice will need to be fine tuned as you gain experience to your particular environment and your chosen way of doing things.

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