This has been a great year for Chilli’s; we’ve been picking them since midsummer. I’ve grown three varieties Serrano, Ring of fire and Cayenne. Their red and green jewel like fruit has looked stunning in the conservatory / potting shed. The chilli’s we don’t use fresh are stored in the freezer and keep us going until next years crop. There are still lots of green chillis on the plants which I’ll leave; they may still redden with time. I have always treated chilli plants as half hardy annuals, but, I’ve just read that they are in fact perennials and crop far better in their second year. So I will experiment and see if they survive the winter under glass. Apparently I’m not to worry if they lose all their leaves, they’ll send out new ones come spring.
I was very fortunate to inherit a fabulous large green house from the previous owners. It was crammed with passion fruit, a variety of weeds and two old grape vines which were escaping out through cracks in the glass freeing itself from the dense vegetation. When inside the green house I’d stoop, hunched up, avoiding the jungle inside. It all had to go!
I started by clearing the vines and weeds. The space opened up, it was cavernous, my mind was absorbed with varieties of tomatoes, winter salads and cucumbers I could grow. I scrubbed and washed the glass and frame, a cold, soggy and unpleasant experience, but worth it to see the light flow freely in. Broken glass was replaced. The greenhouse was an inspiring transformation. A place to extend the productive season and grow the more tender fruit and veg.
The soil inside was dusty, tired old compost which certainly had potential to be hiding all sorts of evils. I had a choice to make, pave over and grow my crops in pots or remove the existing 40cms of soil and replace with enriched topsoil to plant directly in to. Although far more work to replace the soil, it would mean I could fit in more plants, I could grow more varieties and hopefully achieve higher crop yields, watering would be more efficient and economical. I would also save money not having to buy in compost to fill the pots. Decision made, hard graft to commence!
It was hard graft and made more complicated by having to sift through each spade full of soil for the thick spaghetti like root of bind weed (The garden is infested with it and will no doubt be a reoccurring issue for some time!). The soil had to be removed by bucket as there’s a 15cm lip across the door way preventing access for a wheel barrow. My enthusiastic 3 and 5 year old, wielding there garden/beach tools in the glass confined space weren’t helping either. It could have been worse the 7 year old could have joined in as well.
Over a period of two weeks, doing a bit here and there, it is complete and ready to plant up. My baby tomato and tomatillo (husband’s request) plants need a couple more weeks growth then I’ll pop them in.
Stage 2 of the kitchen garden plan complete!