The chili pepper (also chile pepper or chilli pepper, from Nahuatl chilli) is the fruit of plants from the genus Capsicum, members of the nightshade family, Solanaceae.
The term in British English and in Australia, New Zealand, India, Malaysia and other Asian countries is just chilli without "pepper".
Common name: Jalapeño Pepper
Height: 24 to 48 inches tall
Difficulty level: Easy
Planting & Care
Plant 3-5 jalapeno plants per household member if you love jalapenos.
Jalapeno pepper plants are tender and can be damaged by frost.
Climate conditions and geographic location are also factors in the intensity of the heat.
In other words, the hotter the weather, the hotter the jalapeno pepper.
Sunlight: Full sun
Soil: Peppers need well-drained, nutrient-rich soil. Amend soil with 3 to 5 inches of compost or other organic matter prior to planting. Soil pH should be 6.2 to 7.0.
Water: Keep soil consistently moist throughout the growing season. Mulch soil to reduce water evaporation.
- Preparing Chilli Seeds Germination of chilli seeds is known to be difficult but if you follow these instructions carefully, you should have a good success rate.
- Soaking your chilli seeds overnight in warm water overnight will increase your germination rate.
- Tie each packet of seeds in a piece of muslin using different colour wool or cotton to tie around the top, making a careful note of which colour relates to which seed.
- Fill a pre-warmed thermos flask with warm water at the temperature of 45-48 degrees centigrade and pop in the chilli bags overnight.
- Planting Chilli Seeds Plant into small pots or preferably into Jiffy compost pellets.
- If you are using Jiffy compost pellets, soak them until they have swollen to size and put two seeds into each one, just below the surface.
- If you are planting into pots, fill one pot per seed type to about 2cm below the rim, firm down the compost and soak thoroughly.
- Place the seeds with a good space between them so that you do not harm the roots when you come to potting on and cover them with a fine layer of sieved compost.
- Use separate pots or trays for each variety and don’t forget to label them or you will spend several frustrated months not knowing which plant is which.
- Propagating Chilli Seeds For best results, place in a heated propagator or a seed tray with clear lid in a warm place.
- Warmth is especially important for Chinese chilli varieties such as Habaneros, Nagas and Scotch Bonnets.
- Ideally you should keep soil temperature at 26 to 32 degrees centigrade.
- Keep the compost moist but not too wet or the seed will rot.
- Germination takes between two and four weeks and can be very erratic, so do not be too concerned if your seeds do not germinate immediately or if only some of them seem to germinate.
- Seedlings When the seedlings start to appear, introduce some ventilation to your propagator or seed tray.
- Be careful not to let the temperature drop too much at night, as plants are very vulnerable to the cold at this stage.
- Once your plants have a few leaves, you should start to feed them on a weekly basis using a quarter strength fertilizer such as Chilli Focus or seaweed extract.
- Four to six weeks after germination, plants can be potted on very carefully, avoiding disturbing the roots too much as well as any germinating seeds that may be awakening in the pot.
- Growing on Chilli plants do well is warm, sunny places so a greenhouse or conservatory is the ideal place for them.
- They can also be placed outside on a sheltered spot or warm patio but acclimatize them slowly, bringing them in at night for the first week or whenever the temperature threatens to drop.
- Use a cane to support the plants as they grow.
- Carry on feeding chillies with a dedicated chilli feed or seaweed extract at the suggested rate.
- Never exceed the suggested rate as this can actually have a detrimental effect on your plants.
- Encouraging fruit Your chilli plants will produce flowers and then chillies on each of its sidestems so the more sidestems you have, the more fruit your plant will produce.
- If you want to increase the number of chillies your plant produces, you need to increase the number of sidestems.
- You can do this by tipping your plant onto its side once it is a substantial size.
- The chilli plant will try to grow upright by throwing out a number of sidestems.
- Once it has done this, turn the pot around so that the new sidestems are facing down and it will throw out another series of sidestems, reaching for the light.
- Give the pot a quarter turn and once another set of sidestems have been started, turn another half turn.
- You can then return your plant to an upright position and wait for a bumper harvest of chillies.
- Chillies can be pollinated by bees but failing that, they are also self-pollinating so a gentle shake of flowers will help ensure that they set.
- Once your chillies start to flower, start to feed with a tomato feed at the rate suggested by manufacturers to encourage fruit to set.
- Overwintering Chilli plants are perennials and are generally more productive in their second year than their first although most people grow them as half-hardy annuals.
- It is worth overwintering them if you have the space on a sunny windowsill or heated greenhouse.
- Don’t let the temperature fall below 10 degrees Centigrade.
- Don’t be too concerned if your plants start losing leaves as low light levels can cause chilli plants to go into dormancy, looking for all intents and purpose dead but come spring, they will burst back into life again.
- Unless you really have killed them that is!
Harvesting: Check image on plant tag (or at the top of this page) to learn what your pepper looks like when mature. Some peppers turn red, yellow, or other colors at maturity. Others are ready in the green stage, but will turn red if left on plants. Use pruning shears or a sharp knife to cut peppers with a short stub of stem attached. Pulling peppers by hand can cause entire branches to break off. Fruits store longer for fresh use if you don’t remove the stem, which can create an open wound that’s ripe for spoiling. Storage: Store unwashed (or washed and dried) peppers in the refrigerator in a loosely closed plastic bag. Moisture is a pepper’s enemy and hastens spoiling. For peak flavor and nutrition, use within a week.
- Chili pepper contains an impressive list of plant derived chemical compounds that are known to have disease preventing and health promoting properties.
Chilies contain health benefiting an alkaloid compound in them, capsaicin, which gives strong spicy pungent character.
- Early laboratory studies on experimental mammals suggest that capsaicin has anti-bacterial, anti-carcinogenic, analgesic and anti-diabetic properties.
It also found to reduce LDL cholesterol levels in obese individuals.
Fresh chili peppers, red and green, are rich source of vitamin-C.
- 100 g fresh chilies provide about 143.
- 7 µg or about 240% of RDA.
Vitamin C is a potent water-soluble antioxidant.
- It is required for the collagen synthesis in the body.
- Collagen is the main structural protein in the body required for maintaining the integrity of blood vessels, skin, organs, and bones.
- Regular consumption of foods rich in vitamin C helps the body protect from scurvy; develop resistance against infectious agents (boosts immunity) and scavenge harmful, pro-inflammatory free radicals from the body.
They are also good in other antioxidants like vitamin A, and flavonoids like ß-carotene, a-carotene, lutein, zea-xanthin, and cryptoxanthin.
- These antioxidant substances in capsicum help to protect the body from injurious effects of free radicals generated during stress, diseases conditions.
Chilies contain a good amount of minerals like potassium, manganese, iron, and magnesium.
- Potassium is an important component of cell and body fluids that helps controlling heart rate and blood pressure.
- Manganese is used by the body as a co-factor for the antioxidant enzyme, superoxide dismutase.
Chilies are also good in B-complex group of vitamins such as niacin, pyridoxine (vitamin B-6), riboflavin and thiamin (vitamin B-1).
These vitamins are essential in the sense that body requires them from external sources to replenish.
- Chili pepper pods, which are berries, are used fresh or dried.
- Chilies are dried to preserve them for long periods of time, which may also be done by pickling.
Dried chilies are often ground into powders, although many Mexican dishes including variations on chiles rellenos use the entire chili.
Dried whole chilis may be reconstituted before grinding to a paste.
- The chipotle is the smoked, dried, ripe jalapeño.
Many fresh chilies such as poblano have a tough outer skin that does not break down on cooking.
- Chilis are sometimes used whole or in large slices, by roasting, or other means of blistering or charring the skin, so as not to entirely cook the flesh beneath.
- When cooled, the skins will usually slip off easily.
The Health benefits of eating chillies are well documented but suprisingly little known, despite the many numerous and profound ways in which they are known to aid, relieve and prevent many conditions.
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