Autumn arrives at our urban chilli-patch

Updated: Oct 15, 2018

The greenhouse at the far end of not very far away at all.

First week of October 2018

Weather: surprisingly bright

Temp: surprisingly warm during the day.

October has arrived, bringing with it days that grow progressively shorter as night lingers longer into the morning. It happens every year, of course, so shouldn’t come as a shock. But I was still taken aback at how depressingly dark it was today, as I staggered, bleary-eyed and insufficiently caffeinated, through our small urban garden to the greenhouse at the far end. I should mention that the far end is not very far at all, the garden is tiny. It’s barely large enough to accommodate the greenhouse.

And the greenhouse is not large enough to hold this year's collection of chilli plants – chosen, I should mention, for their rankings at the upper reaches of the Scoville Scale as well as their taste. At the height of the growing season, it was bursting at the seams, but thanks to the brilliantly hot weather through the summer months, the overspill could be strategically positioned within the flower-border and between our tiny raised veg-beds. As the season ended, spent plants were ruthlessly culled. Any still bearing fruit – some on their second and even third wave – earned their place in the greenhouse. It's still a bit of a squeeze, like stuffing a duvet into a pillow case, so the culling continues as plants pass their best.

Ghoulish Ghost Peppers, the fearsomely hot Bhut Jolokia, are a way off ripening.
Ghoulish Ghost Peppers, the fearsomely hot Bhut Jolokia, are a way off ripening.

The glossy Chocolate Habaneros, gnarly Carolina Reapers and delightfully named 7-Pot Brainstorms are a joy, churning out fruits that are both fiery hot and packed with flavour. Meanwhile, the Johnny-come-lately Bhut Jolokias – or Ghost Pepper – are a ghoulish shade of palest green and could certainly do with a longer season. Because it’s not just the warmth of the greenhouse they need, it’s longer daylight hours. There’s nothing else for it: I’m going to need grow-lights.

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