Chilies are easy to grow if you have a warm windowsill or a hot, sunny patio. Sow seeds in spring and you can look forward to fresh chilies from summer to the autumn, or all year round if you dry them. Experiment with different colored varieties and levels of heat.
When to start: Mid-spring.
At their best: Summer to autumn.
Time to complete: 1 hour.
You will need: Chili seeds, 3½ in (8 cm) pots, seed soil, clear plastic bag, larger pots, multi-purpose soil, small stakes, tomato fertilizer.
Select seed to suit your taste – some are much hotter than others. You can also sow seed from dried chilies grown the previous year, but they may revert to a common type if you planted a named hybrid. In spring, fill small pots with moist seed soil. Place about two or three seeds on the surface and cover lightly with more soil. Water, label, and place pots in a plastic bag. As soon as the seedlings appear, remove the bag.
When 1 in (2 cm) tall, separate seedlings into their own small pots and set on a sunny windowsill. Keep well-watered. When they are about 8 in (20 cm) tall, pot them on into larger containers.
Grow them on
Pinch the growing tips out when the plants are 12 in (30 cm) to encourage more shoots, and stake as necessary. Harden plants off if you plan to keep them outside. Feed weekly with tomato fertilizer when buds appear, and pick the fruit when green for a milder taste, or leave until they are red hot.