Grandpa suggests if you want a successful chili peppers garden, soil preparation, the right variety for your area, plenty of water, and good drainage are a must.
While you can grow most chilis in almost any area bell, cherry, and habaneras do better in more humid regions and New Mexican or long varieties do better in the southwest.
There are many important steps to successfully growing chili peppers like adding compost to improve water holding capacity, workability, fertility, and drainage.
Chili seeds need oxygen, warmth, and moisture for germination. Germination can be irregular even under the best conditions. If you soak seeds for two or three days by wrapping them in a damp paper towel and laying it in a tray this can aid the speed of germination. Higher rates occur between 70 & 80 degrees F. faster rates between 90 & 100 F.
You can grow great chili peppers if you add to your garden beds, be sure to adjust soil content if excessively sandy or clay soil exists. Chiles are self- pollinating and will readily cross-pollinate within species. If you wish to save seeds protect plants from cross-pollinating, plant at different ends of your garden.
Start seeds indoors about 8 weeks before last expected frost date. Harden off seedlings by exposing them to outdoor temperatures (above freezing) for longer periods of time every day. When daytime temperatures average 70 degrees F and nighttime about 55 degrees it's time to transplant to your garden. Adjust soil Ph to around 6.5, no need to be exact, use a balanced, I suggest organic, fertilizer (5-10-5 or 10-10-10) easy on the nitrogen or you'll have large healthy plants and very little fruit.
The key to flower development is nighttime temperature, ideally between 65 and 80 degrees. Fruit set is enhanced by sunlight, but fruit will not set above 86 degrees F. Long pod varieties which ripen between 85 and 95 degrees have twice the capsaicinoids as pods ripening between 60 and 70 degrees.
Try selecting early maturing varieties if you're growing in the northern areas.
Grandpas Chili Pepper History
Chili peppers originated in an area in the mountains on the borders of Brazil and Bolivia in South America sometime around 9,000 years ago. With the help of natives and birds over thousands of years the chilies migrated out of the area and spread across the Americas.
The wild chilies of antiquity fruits were small, erect, and bright red making them very attractive to birds. Birds are unable to feel the pungency associated with capsaicin. Belief is this evolved in this way because a bird's digestive system does not harm seeds as a mammal's does.
When Christopher Columbus encountered them in the Caribbean, being one of the first Europeans to do so, he called them peppers because they reminded him of the spicy hot taste black and white pepper of the piper genus known in Europe. Peppers are perennial sub shrubs grown as annuals where temperatures drop below freezing.
Only a few areas of the US can chili peppers be grown as a perennial southern portions California, Florida, Texas, and Arizona.
Peppers, Chili and sweet, as well as tomatoes, potatoes, and eggplant are members of the nightshade family. There are five main species of chilies that have been domesticated they include; Capsicum annuum which include bells, wax, cayenne, jalapenos, and chiltepin, Capsicum baccatum, including aji peppers, Capsicum frutescens, which includes Tabasco, malagueta, thia, piri piri, malawaian kambuzi, and African birdseye chili, Capsicum chinense, including the hottest peppers such as naga, habanero, datil, and scotch bonnet, Capsicum pubescens, including South American aji peppers.
Only a few of the species are in common use. Many methods of preparing the cultivars have different names for culinary use. Red and green bell peppers are really the same green ones being immature. Jalapeno and poblano are the same species (dried they are called ancho) as are chile Colorado, Anaheim, Serrano, and other cultivars.
Commonly peppers are in three main groups: bell peppers, sweet peppers, and hot peppers. Almost all pepper varieties fall into these categories or a cross between them.
Chili peppers heat was historically measured in Scoville heat units (SHU), this is a measure of how much chili extract must be diluted in sugar syrup before its heat becomes undetectable by a panel of tasters. Bell peppers rank 0(SHU), New mexico green chilis around 1,500 , Jalapenos 2,500 to 5,000 , habaneros about 300,000. Pure capsaicin is a odorless, colorless, and crystalline to waxy solid at room temperature that measures 16,000,000 SHU. Naga Viper pepper measures 1,382,118 SHU as of this writing making the worlds pepper.
Nutritional Values for Red Chili raw
Values per 100 g About 3 ½ ounces