Container Organic Chilli Gardening (Peppers)

Container Chilli Gardening.
Container Chilli Gardening.

Container organic chilli gardening

Today, we are discussing the topic of container organic chilli gardening or container organic pepper gardening.

Any home gardener when raising its own vegetable definitely prepares a list of plants to be grown at least once and on this list chilli plants are usually on top position. Chillies are an inseparable part of any cuisine whether you are making curry or any sauce or you want to add flavor in your food with delicious chilli pickles, whether you are topping your pizza, chillies are omnipresent.

Growing Peppers in Containers.
Growing Peppers in Containers.

In addition to satisfying our taste buds chilli has nutritional importance as well let’s look at some benefits this humble spice offers:

  1. We should start with the ultimate benefit – i.e. green chillies come with zero calories. In fact, they can speed up one’s metabolism as well.
  2. Green chillies are full of antioxidants that defend the body against free radicals.
  3. Interestingly enough capsaicin, found in green chillies although hot to taste and this pigment causes the spice and pungent taste and has been shown to lower body temperature by stimulating the cooling center of the hypothalamus region present in the brain. This explains why, even in very hot places like India, green chillies are consumed. Isn’t it wonderful!!!
  4. Remember when last time you accidentally chewed a piece of green chilli and your nose and mouth started watering or anything when you smell anything spicy automatically you start salivating. This is because the capsaicin in green chillies has a stimulating effect on the mucous membranes of the nose and sinuses. Capsaicin stimulates blood flow through the membranes and causes mucus secretion to become thinner. This action makes it beneficial in combating the common cold or sinus infections. So this craving of soups and spicy noodles during cold is stimulated due to chillies only.
  5. Enriched with Vitamin C and beta-carotene, green chillies are beneficial for healthy eyes, skin and immune system. Make sure to store the green chillies at a dark and cool area because chillies lose their Vitamin C content when they are exposed to heat, light, and air.
  6. Green chillies are a natural source of iron and a boon for iron-deficient people.
  7. Green chillies are rich in Vitamin K.

So after reading these several benefits, you must be thinking how to grow chilli at home and let me tell your chilli plants are one of the favorable crops to be grown at home as it doesn’t have stringent requirements and care. Another good thing about growing chilli in the garden is you need plenty of lands to raise them chilli prefer to be in containers or you can say they yield more when grown in containers. So today we will discuss How to grow chillies in pots? We will also suggest ideas to raise organic chilli plants.

Chilli plant information

Chilli plant belongs to the family Solanaceae same family as tomato and brinjal, chilli is botanically known as Capsicum annuum all over the world.

Talking of plant habit, it is a small, annual shrub with an erect, branched shoot with green-brown stems with simple oval leaves. It thrives through a tap root system. The plants produce small flowers with five petals, usually white in color and are pendent. In other words, unlike in other plants, the flowers of chilli droop down and hang like pendants. The chilli fruits also similarly hang downwards. Chilli seeds are contained within the fruit. The economic plant of chilli plant is its fruit.

There are many varieties of chilli plants, some of which are the hottest peppers known such as naga chilli, ghost chilli, Guajillo, jalapeno, peri peri, etc.  Though chilli plant is grown all over the world but found mostly in Britain, Australia, South Africa, India, and other Asian countries.

Life-Cycle: Annual and perennial.

Height: 20 to 39 inches.

Width/Spread: 1-3 feet.

Flowering season: early summer.

Flower: Chilli flowers occur singly or in small groups of two to three flowers varying in colors and size.

Pollination similar to tomatoes means the chilli flowers are self-fertile, and you don’t need to provide additional agencies to pollinate them.

Read: How to Grow Organic Celery in Containers.

Growing chilli plants in pots or container

Growing Peppers in Pots.
Growing Peppers in Pots.

Being a low maintenance crop you can easily enjoy homegrown organic chillies at home. Also used as an ornamental crop because of its canopy and beautiful fruit color, green, purple and red you can grow chilli plant indoor or beautify your veranda, backyard or in terrace with chilli plants on your own.

Major grown species of chilli

Capsicum annum

  1. frutescens

C.chinense

C.pendulum

C.pubescens

Organic chilli gardening in containers

Since we are focusing on the growing of chilli plants in containers that too organically, so let’s define organic gardening of chilli first in simple words organic gardening is a crop production method in accordance to the rules defined by nature. It focuses on the use of natural resources and minimizes the use of any chemical resources. It is a gardening system that seeks to avoid the use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides. In organic gardening, the entire system i.e. plants, soil, water and micro-organisms present in soil are to be protected and use of biofertilizers and green manure is encouraged.

The answer to question How to grow chilli plants faster lies in practice of organic gardening of chilli plant since we are maximizing the use of nutrient-rich sources such as green manure, vermicompost, and biofertilizers and growing chilli plant in protected environment like containers and pots increases its production due to less disease and insect, pest infestation as pots are easy to maintain and are always in our radar.

Choosing a perfect pot or container

Choosing a Perfect Pot.
Choosing a Perfect Pot.

For growing chilli plants in the container, always choose containers or pots that have sufficient drainage holes to drain out the excess water with the right conditions, chillies can grow brilliantly in containers. A 5-gallon container or 12 inches deep and wide similarly is sufficient for a single plant for most of the chilli varieties.  You can pick any container plastic or aluminum anything that can hold the plant or doesn’t interfere with the plant growth. As chillies grow bigger, they like to be transferred into slightly larger pots. For example, move a seedling from a three-inch pot into a half litre, then one litre, then three liter – rather than from a three-inch pot to a three-litre one

Position of container or pots

Growing chillies in containers need a place that receives full sun around 6-8 hours of direct exposure to sunlight. They are heat-loving plants like other plants of the family e.g. Tomatoes and eggplant. If you are short of space, you can also grow chilli plants indoors on a sunny windowsill. Also, choose a spot that has superior air circulation to avoid diseases.

Soil requirements

Chilli gardening in containers makes its cultivation relaxed and rewarding. The soil used in pots should be well drained rich in organic matter, chilli plants thrive in soil having a pH of 6.5-7.5, and it cannot tolerate acidic or alkaline soils. Always make sure the share of soil used in your container must be free from inoculums of pest and insect and should not be taken from the field with an incidence of any disease. The portion of soil used should be free from stones or pebbles or any plant debris. Chilli plants require moisture for growth for the gardening purpose the crop needs well-drained sandy loam with rich organic content.

Read: How to Prepare Garden Seedbed.

Soil treatment for container organic chilli gardening

If you wish to harvest organic chilllies then you need put some extra efforts by treating the soil with biofertilizers such as Azotobacter or Azospirillum are mixed with compost or farmyard manure and can be left overnight. You can also add vermicompost in the soil these biofertilizers add bulk of essential nutrients in the soil. It’s also a good idea to mix 5-10 gm of neem cake at the time of soil preparation this will provide protection to the young plants from soil-borne diseases and pests.

Climatic requirements

Chilli is a tropical and sub-tropical plant which requires a combination of warm, humid yet dry weather. Chilli plant growing stages require different temperature conditions during the vegetative growth stage it needs warm and humid weather. However, dry weather is suitable for fruit maturity. Temperature range of 20⁰-25⁰C is perfect for chilli growth. At 37⁰C or higher temperature, the fruit development is affected. Similarly, in case of heavy rain, the plant defoliates and starts rotting. However, in case of low moisture conditions during the fruiting period, the bud does not develop appropriately. Hence, as a result, the flower and fruit may drop off. We can conclude, high temperature and relatively low humidity level would lead to deflowering and fruits if developed would be very small. These points are to be kept in mind when you are growing chilli plants in the container in outdoor conditions especially.

The season for container organic chilli gardening

Chillies can be produced both as Kharif and Rabi crop. Sowing months are May to June for Kharif crop, September to October for Rabi crops. If they are planted as summer crops then January-February months are preferred.

How to water chillies in pots

How you water chillies or watering frequency will make a big difference to your growing success story. Drainage is important the chilli roots must have an adequate amount of oxygen that’s why we recommend pots with sufficient drainage holes. Chillies seem to grow best with dry and wet cycles so it’s good not to water them every day if possible. Keep the soils slightly moist constantly and never allow the plants to dry out completely.  Also, avoid overhead watering as this may lead to wet foliage, which invites fungal infections. At the times, when flowers start to appear and fruits begin to form reduce the watering a little. But be careful, drying out of soil completely results in flower drop. Chillies are crops that cannot withstand a lot of water. Heavy rainfall and stagnated water would result in rotting of the plants. A frequent watering would result in the shedding of flowers during chilli flowering time and a burst of vegetative growth. The amount of water to be irrigated, the number of irrigations and its frequency highly depends on the climatic conditions and the soil type. If the leaves start dropping during day time it is an indication of water requirement. Similarly, if the flowers seem weak or exhibit not enough vigour, watering the plants would help.

Read: How to Identify Organic Food in India.

Seed treatment in container organic chilli gardening

It is always advantageous to adopt indigenous practices for seed treatment, especially when going for organic production. The seeds may be treated with Trichoderma and Pseudomonas sp. @ 10 g per kg of seeds to avoid the incidence of seedling rot in the nursery. Biological seed treatment with antagonistic Pseudomonas fluorescens improves the seed quality parameters and drastically reduces the bacterial wilt incidence.

Planting material for container organic chilli gardening

Chilli plants are propagated by its seeds which are also grown in nurseries. Depending upon the preference of the grower chilli plant can be cultured either by sowing the seed directly and raise your seedlings yourself or you can opt for purchasing the raised seedlings from nurseries anytime.

For growing chillies from dried seeds, you can either use containers as raised seed beds or directly on the field. Chilli seeds can be planted into small pots and compressed down to the soil by using compost. The seeds should be planted at uniform and good space between them so that their roots are not harmed and hampered.

 Raising organic chilli nurseries

Grow chilli from seeds step by step seeds of high yielding varieties with tolerance to pests and diseases may be used. They should be carefully chosen from certified organic farms or from own seed plot which is raised organically. Seeds should not be treated with any chemical fungicides or pesticides as it is the essence of organic crop production. Chilli plants are typically started in seedling trays or small pots. Seeds should be sow about 5mm deep in small pots or growing tray. They are very susceptible when small and they don’t grow all that fast. The germination usually takes 1-3 weeks, depends on the warmth and humidity.

You can plant several chilli seeds per pot. Once your seedlings have a few leaves, you can discard the weaker ones and only keep the healthy promising plants. Usually we only want one chilli plant per pot when we transfer them out for easy maintenance. Sow the seeds almost ¼ inch deep in a seed starting mix or you can use growing material like perlite or coco peat. Place seed tray in a spot that is warm, temperature above 15 C is significant for germination. Keep misting the seed tray frequently and keep the soil evenly moist. To make germination of seeds easier, cover the seeds with a plastic wrap and keep it in a warm location to keep the moisture conditions intact. As soon as the majority of the seeds in a pot have emerged and have started bearing two well-formed leaves, and surely before they become leggy, they should be transferred into the larger pots where they will grow further. During transplantation, the seedlings require little care; hold the seedlings by the leaves, and not the stems.

Transplanting chilli seedlings to containers

The most crucial part of transplanting chilli seedlings or chilli potting is to avoid too much disturbance to the plant.  Ensure your new pot is filled with the compost and perlite or sterilized and treated soil.

Make a hole in the center using your finger or dibber before you transplant the seedling this will provide proper aeration to the growing seedling and will also drain the extra water in the pot.

You can plant one seedling per each pot or if the pot is large in size you can also plant multiple seedlings but make sure you maintain a distance of at least 5 cm between the seedlings so that they don’t affect each other’s growth.

Cautiously, using a small implement, lift the seedling out of the growing tray by holding a leaf, not the stem, then drop the seedling into the hole present in the desired pot.  Make sure that the hole is deep enough to allow the stem to be covered by soil and just the leaves to be visible.  This will facilitate to reduce the risk of the plant becoming leggy or damping off.

Gently fill soil around the plant by simply patting, but do not compact the soil, just give the pot a gentle tap to settle the soil.  Gently water the new seedling by sprayer, don’t make seedlings swim in the water.

After transplanting the container should be placed in a favorable place where the optimum temperature is maintained supporting proper growth of the plant.

Read: Community Gardening Tips.

Container organic chilli gardening care

The growing medium should not be over watered until the seed germinates. You can also raise very hot chillies, like Bhut Jolokia, by from soaking in water for 24 hours before sowing it benefits the germination.

Disease Management in Chilli Plantation

Chillies suffer from a variety of diseases like anthracnose, fruit rot, dieback, bacterial wilt, mosaic diseases, powdery mildew, leaf spot, etc. The best way to check the development and spread is to use resistant strains for sowing and conduct the regular manual inspection. The affected plants must be removed immediately as soon as the disease is detected. In addition, spraying Trichoderma and Pseudomonas species would help to prevent the disease spread.

Pest Management

Thrips, pod borers, grubs, nematodes, aphids, mites, etc. are the major pests of chilli gardening. It must be ensured that at the time of farmyard manure application only well-rotted manure issued. Neem cake helps to keep root grubs away. Some gardeners keep grasses in heaps at designated spots on the field. Grubs gather in these heaps and the heap is burnt in the morning. This way, the life cycle is disturbed and likely grubs are destroyed. Neem Seed Kernel Extract is applied for controlling thrips and mites. Similarly, installing pheromone traps help control fruit borers.

Pinching

Pinching in early growth makes the plant bushier and promotes more branching it is a type of pruning. When the plant is around six inches tall, clip the growing tip, which helps it to be more bush type. If you see the flowers appearing early, remove them as well. Do this also at the time of transplanting. During the growth, look out for diseases or infected foliage or branch and remove it too.

Support/Training of Chillies

Chillies have weak twigs. If they are loaded with fruit they can break off. The chilli plants are prone to branches drooping on the ground and breaking off. Growing chillies in containers may require support especially if you’re keeping your plant in a windy spot. Simply stab a stick near the main stem and tie the plant to it.

Deadheading

If your plant is flowering too early deadhead the flowers, it is important. This will direct the plant’s energy into growing and becoming healthy.

Harvesting chillies from containers

Time to harvest may vary and depends on the variety that you’re growing and climate conditions and nutritional status of the plant.

Most of the varieties take 2-3 months to harvest. You can identify this when they are ready from their size. The longer you leave chillies on the plant, the hotter if flavor they become, but at the same time leaving them on the plant after it’s ready for harvest will decline in further fruiting. Dark green fruit is suitable to be plucked for preparing chilli pickle. If you wish to dry them for chilli powder or flakes, you can even leave them on the bush until they shrivel up and dry on their own. For dry chilli and for making chilli powder, picking should be done when the fruit is dark red.  Ripe fruits should be harvested at frequent intervals. Retaining fruits on the plant for a long period on the plants causes wrinkles and color fading. About 5-6 pickings can be made for dry mature chilli and 8-10 pickings for green chilli. For harvesting or plucking the chilli fruit rule is pull it in an upward direction, exactly opposite to the direction in which it bends or hung down.

That’s all folks about container organic chilli gardening.

Read: Ideas for Balcony Vegetable Gardening.

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