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Chili – As in Spicy – Sunday

The Chili Experiment is successful and, no surprise, the chili in the normal earth is growing the best.

Awesome Pork calls for Awesome Chili

I visit the 5 Star Hainanese Chicken & BBQ Pork place in Centre Point quite often. Very often. In fact, so often that when I walk in they already know what I want. And one of the things that I always want, is lots and lots of chili.

There’s something that makes their chili special. It’s not chili padi, the little buggers that burn your mouth to where you can’t taste anything anymore, and it’s not the bigger cyan peppers either.

No, it’s some interesting somewhere-in-between chili that is both potent and flavourful; delicious even.

Because on one particular day they ran out of this kind of chili and had a horrible substitute instead, I decided the next time to take the chili seeds home and try and grow my own. I can’t remember exactly when this was, but I think it was early in December.

Using Home Made Soil

I have a compost heap in my backyard, and I took the earth from beneath there to germinate the seeds. It was damp, grassy meaning lots of air, and slightly luke warm and judging by the amount of earthworms, packed with nutrients. Everything a germinating little seed could want.

About a week or so later I had green sprouts sticking out above the surface. At first just a few, but because I chucked in a good half-a-handful of chili seeds, there were soon many, many more.

The seeds were growing in a coffee cup where the water didn’t drain, so the soil remained soaked. It stank after a while, but the chili seeds seem to love it, so I left them there, except for 5 brave explorers who were destined for something else.

Experiment: Chili

It’s well known that soil makes a difference to the health and the taste of fruit, so I experimented a bit.

Starbucks were giving away used coffee grinds saying your garden will love it. I had my doubts, but took a bag nevertheless.

I prepared 3 containers, all with draining holes. In the one container I used more earth from my compost heap. In the second container I used only the recycled coffee grinds, and in the third container I mixed soil and coffee grinds.

Container 1 received 1 little chili plant, and container 2 and 3 each 2 chili plants. They were all watered regularly, but were just out in the open, not in the sun.

Several Weeks Later: Coffee

The two containers with coffee in them

The seedlings in the coffee never really grew much more; not sure if that says anything about coffee.

Whatever the nutritional value of coffee, one it’s own its a super poor substrate, as most of it eroded away through the draining holes, leaving the container nearly empty.

The plants, over a few days, withered and died. Possibly because the water didn’t hang around in the substrate, or perhaps because used espresso grindings is just too harsh on its own.

Several Weeks Later: Coffee & Soil Mix (+ beer)

The seedlings in the coffee/soil mix at first withered a bit, but then recovered.

Then as I was cleaning out my beer keg, it had some yeast-rich leftovers in the bottom of the keg. Thinking it’s packed with nutrients, I poured it over the plants.

Perhaps because I had watered it too much earlier, or perhaps because they are teetotalers, they turned brown. For a while I feared that they might die.

The chili plants recovered though, but look no bigger than when I planted them in there. Maybe the roots are growing.

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Several Weeks Later: Soil Only

The chili plant in the soil only, because the container is a little higher, suffered some damage during a storm one night. Other than that it seems like it hasn’t done much growing, although perhaps the root system is developing first.

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The Stinking Coffee Cup

In the meantime, the hordes of chili in the swampy coffee cup where growing like there’s no tomorrow. In fact, so vigorously were they growing that I had to transplant them into a bigger pot.

Their leaves were green and have a texture of a much more matured plant than the guinea pigs above. They’re also substantially taller and when I carefully removed the soil from the coffee cup, their roots have all but taken over the substrate too.

The chili colony is now in a large pot with organic soil, which should be able to sustain them for several months to come. The visible part of the plant is not growing so fast anymore, but I suspect the roots are doing their thing.

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