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Tips from the chilli expert #4: Looking after your chillies

Having followed his tips on planting, re-potting and pollinating, you’ll hopefully now have some good chilli shoots sprouting. But Mother Nature can be a cruel mistress and things do go wrong, so we’ve enlisted the help of our official Chilli Expert, Craig McKnight to give you some TLC tips. Over to you Craig.

First things first. As I’ve mentioned before, make sure that you keep the compost moist and not drenched. If you overwater, then this will not help your chilli plants, and will probably kill them. It is best to water them little and often, rather than nothing for ages, and then drench them in a mad panic because the compost has dried out.

If your plants have produced flowers already, then you can give them a helping hand by putting liquid tomato feed into their water for everyother watering. I tend to use it at half the concentration recommended on the back of the bottle. Alternatively, if you search on the internet, there are specialist feeds for chilli plants.

The second thing to watch out for is the enemy of the gardener, slugs and snails. The only surefire way to get rid of these is to check your plants periodically. You can use slug pellets, but obviously these tend not to be organic. However, I have tried a natural product called ‘Slug Gone’, and had very good results from it.

Lastly, everyone gets aphids on their chilli plants occasionally. A natural way to control these is to encourage ladybirds to live near your chilli plants, as they are the natural predators of aphids. You can even buy them from the internet!
Another way to try to control them is to spray your plants with a very weak solution of washing up liquid in water. However, do not use one that is describes as “anti-bacterial” and use one that is fragrance-free. Also, don’t spray your plants when it is hot, or in direct sunlight, as you will scorch the plants, and kill them.

There’ll be another ‘guru video’ shortly giving tips about how to recognise when your chillies are ready to pick. In the meantime, happy chilli growing!