flowerybap
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Growing chillies & discoloured leaves

Hi, I am growing chillies for the first time and have 3 types: Super Fresco, Scotch Bonnet & Cheyenne. The Cheyenne ones have quite big chillies on (about 2" long) and am just being patient with the others as all look okay apart from the leaves are slowly draining of colour and turning white. I have got them in 30" pots with good compost and have fed them with tomato feed (which has worried me actually as have read they shouldn't have too much nitrogen and tomato feed has nitrogen in it). They are quite huddled up in a plastic greenhouse. When should I start picking them and what do I do about the leaves? I am not a natural gardener :( but I do enjoy it and feel very proud when something happens!

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Roger
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When should I start picking them...
The Scotch Bonnets are best picked when they begin to change colors; they are still pretty hot even when green. Picking a few of the larger ones will encourage the plant to produce more. I'm not familiar with the other two types of peppers.

I really don't know about the leaves loosing their color, I've never had that happen to any peppers. If the leaves were turning yellow, it could be too much fertilizer or a watering problem, but I don't know what would cause the leaves to turn white.

flowerybap
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hi, thanks very much for that. Sorry to sound so stupid but do I just cut them off anywhere on the stalk of the chilli?

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Roger
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yep, anywhere on the stem is good. I usually try to leave a good part of the stem on the pepper, maybe an inch or so. Be mindful when cutting them, the juice can sometimes irritate the skin. I once was picking habaneros and had a couple in hand, and later casually brushed that hand across my forehead to swat a gnat or something - and then spent twenty minutes inside flushing my eyes and generally being miserable. :oops:

It's not too silly to wear gloves when handling or preparing some of the hotter peppers.

flowerybap
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Cheers

Thanks very much again Roger. I may need you again very soon!

flowerybap
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Re: Cheers

Hi Roger, my chillies are now doing very nicely (managed to get rid of yellowing leaves by moving them further away from each other). I have picked a few off and now need to dry them. No sun in the UK so far this summer. Any tips?

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Roger
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The best way to dry them in my book is on drying screens in the full sun for a week or two. Other than that, there are other options that I have used before, that work well.

Wash and dry the peppers to start with, and toss out any that are too soft or have bug bites or blemishes.

You can string them up to air dry, using a needle and some strong thread or fishing line. Run the line through the stem of each pepper, so that you have what looks like a string of peppers, much like a set of Christmas lights. Leave a little space between each pepper, barely touching is fine, just not packed together tightly. You can hang several of these from a curtain rod in a nice sunny window, or from a hook or set screw in the ceiling or wall - just make sure that they are not pressed up against the wall, and have space around them for air flow. Then let them just hang for a week or two. Cut off and discard any that develops a mold. It may take longer or shorter time, depending on the humidity and air flow where you hang them, but in ten or twelve days, they should be wrinkled, slightly dulled or browned in color, and just about ready to be stored for longer term.

When they have dried completely, inside and out [sample one to check the inside by crushing it ] you can pop them whole into a paper bag and store them in the pantry, or crush/grind them and bottle them on the spice rack, or use as you see fit. Their shelf life varies, but I would be hesitant to keep them longer than two or three months - they can spoil from the humidity in the air. If I wanted to keep them longer than that, I wouldn't dry them but would instead freeze or pickle them.

You can also use an oven, or dehydrator, or even a microwave oven to dry them - but in my experience, this gives them a more roasted flavor, and they loose a lot of their color. It does work though, even if it makes your house smell like the police have dispersed a riot there with pepper spray. If you use one of these methods, use the lowest possible setting on the oven/dehydrator, and keep a close watch to keep them from burning. You would have to experiment with one or two peppers to get the right time and temperature settings. I've found drying the peppers these ways is best to make a ground spice from the peppers once dried.

Happy Harvesting !

flowerybap
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Thanks very much Roger, they are now hung over the window in the kitchen and look fab

flowerybap
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Hi Roger (or anyone else who may be able to help)

My chillis did great this year after all, despite the lack of sun in UK. I moved them indoors about a month ago and they now need harvesting I think as some are starting to mould and dry out. When I have done this can you tell me how i store the plants throughout the winter. I understand that i can use them as houseplants but they are attracting a lot of white fly and I haven't got the room for them all. Thanks, LIndsay

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Gnome
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flowerybap,
can you tell me how I store the plants throughout the winter. I understand that I can use them as houseplants but they are attracting a lot of white fly and I haven't got the room for them all.
You need not store them at all, generally you start anew each season with fresh plants/seeds. If you want to try it though, pick one or two of the best ones and trash the rest. Find your brightest spot for them and they should be fine. My brother-in-law once kept a potted pepper for several seasons before it finally gave out.

Norm

CrotalusCo
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Well when i first read this i was thinking sunburn, however you mentioned they were in a greenhouse. Pictures would be helpful

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