Tuesday, 31 March 2009

Triffids invade!

Almapaprika has taken to calling our new 'children' triffids. The Butternut squash seeds I planted last Saturday in little coir pellets have not only already grown taller than the tallest of the chilli peppers we've planted this season, but have also protruded their roots so far out that they ended up intertwined, though each pellet was separate at a distance of about 1 inch from the next.

All of this in one week!

I've had to move them to 3 inch pots until they outgrow them (at this pace, it will be in another week).

I did bring two of them to work, as gifts for two colleagues who had tried to grow sunflower seeds but not succeeded. I did warn them, though, that the Butternut Squash will grow and overtake their desks if they aren't careful and move them somewhere adequate.

Then it really will turn into a triffid fest! I can just see the office as one lush jungle of climbing, creeping, crawling vines, ensnaring anyone foolish enough to walk up to them and say: 'Ooh! a Butternut Squash!'

Maybe it's all part of my devious plan...

None of Aji Queen's seeds have germinated, but I expect them to soon. If the weather picks up as it has the last few days, it should be good growing.

The chillies at work are doing well, though the smaller ones (Belpicen, Caribbean Red and Orange Habanero) seem not to be doing as well as their 'counterplants' back at the flat.


Wednesday, 25 March 2009

Butternut Squash?!

Finally planted the seeds from the Aji Queen last night, whilst watching THE single weirdest TV series finale ever (BSG). I sowed seeds for:

-Aji Brazilian Pumpkin
-Habanero 'Pastel Market'
-Cumari ou Passarinho
-Habanero Paper Lantern
-Aji Limo Rojo (this last one was the free one from Peppermania).

I didn't have space in the little greenhouse because I had decided at the weekend to plant some butternut squash seeds I'd taken out of a squash Almapaprika and I had used for a curry. So I used four seeds from them, and then decided I wanted to give the Red Savina Habaneros and the Jamaican Hot Scotch Bonnets another shot, so planted two apiece.


That's another full greenhouse.

Brought three plants over to work yesterday as well. An Orange Habanero, a Caribbean Red Habanero, and one of the Belpicens. I brought the ones that had been grown inside the glass jars (the 'mini-capsicums') to compare growth with the ones at the house.

Wouldn't you know it?

One of the butternut squash is germinating.

After four days.

That's just amazing!

Monday, 23 March 2009

Weekend/Monday pics

Really excited today. First of all I planted some of the seedlings that were in the glass jars into small pots (3cm this time), and moved almost all of the seedlings in the small greenhouse into the now empty jars (missing one Splendor).

Second of all, I passed by the office (had lecture) to see the seedlings there, and WOW! One weekend of mild sunshine (not even that much. It was cloudy all weekend) and some Chilli Focus made them shoot up quite a bit.

I GOT MY OTHER SEEDS! Hazzah! I ordered them from Peppermania (home of the Aji Queen. I wonder if that makes me her subject?). I ordered some Datil Chillies, Brazilian Starfish, Habanero Pastel Market, Paper Lanterns, Cumari au Passarinho. The Aji Queen threw in some free seeds (Aji Limo Rojo), and her business card had another little bag with a hodge-podge of chilli seeds! YAY! There are some Capsicum pubescens seeds (easy one, pubescens seeds are black), and probably another two types. I'll enjoy growing them to see what they end up being.

Saturday, 21 March 2009

The White Habanero

Since the last time I posted, I have now made some changes to the plants. But I'll post those new photos later.

I have realised that, while I have been talking incessantly about life and its many intricate 'intricacies', and I have als
o been posting about my adventures in chilli growing, I have not properly introduced you to the wonderful little capsicums that I am attempting to grow.

So, from time to time, I will write a little bit about them, using the information I can gather from the Internet and f
rom whatever I end up discovering along the way!

First up, for no particular reason, is the White Habanero (the spicy 'honky' Habanero amidst the 'flava' of Habaneros).

I picked up this photo above from https://www.pimentas.org/forum/viewtopic.php?f=12&t=6039, from a 'forumite' called '
pypcak ' (Let it not be said I do not give props when it's due). I looked up a bit of information on this little Capsicum chinense form Azienda Agraria Sperimentale Stuard in Parma (Italy), and their helpful catalog mentioned the following 'technical' data:

-30-35cm in height
-50-60cm in width
-'late' in its precociousness (Italians...always thinking about that)
-Highly pungent (spicy) fruit, smaller than the typical Habanero.
-Plant is sensitive to drops in temperature (not frost tolerant).
-Fruit is 3-3.5cm by 1-1.5cm.

thechileman.org says this is a really spicy number.

From personal experience (very limited though this is) it is one little number to get to germinate. Took forever for the seeds to sprout, and even after they germinated, they are by far some of the smallest seedlings in the lot. Still, if mine look half as good as the one on the picture, then I am really looking forward to this one.

Apparently they are really good small plants.

Some Chilli Photos

Well, I had promised I'd post some of the photos of the chillies I'm growing, so here they arrrrrr! (the spicy pirate in me).

The top photo is of the ones growing at work. From top to bottom: Cherry Chilli, Chocolate Sweet Pepper X2, and Cayenne Ring of Fire. They are doing absolutely wonderful. They have a nice source of heat next to them in the form of the radiators, a nice glass window on the other side, and plenty of sunlight (south-ish facing window). You can Tell they love it!

The second photo is of the ones at home. They did germinate a few days later than the top ones, so they are a little smaller, but still, the look really nice. From left to right: Rocoto Rojo (worry not. The little pencil stick is just to make sure it grows in the right direction. It's doing wonderful), Esplendor (the tiny one, I think), Stromboli, Etna, and Belpicen. A bit less sunshine than at work, but I might move some of them over to the office as spring progresses.

You can just make out the little glass jars next to the pots. I've got the Habaneros and Nagas in them.

Today I finished off some Lemon Curd, and guess what I did with the jar?


Got one of the Fataliis into it.

Watching Saturday Kitchen now. The 'Wine Experts' are such weirdos... gotta love 'em, though.

But they are decidedly weird...

Gotta go finish some Polish Red Cabbage and Apple sauerkraut for lunch.

I need the jar...

Thursday, 19 March 2009

The Mysterious case of the 'Duplicating Daddy'

Yes, I have been watching the BBC TV show about the Number one Women's Detective Agency in Botswana...Almapaprika likes it, and to be honest, it is a welcomed distraction from the bleak and dreary news which encapsulates the daily hum drums of our lives.

Africa seems downright enjoyable in the TV show. And I'm sure if it is anything like 'Aji Chombo Land' it must be outright Faboo! (those of you who do not know where 'Faboo' comes from should ask the Warner Brothers).

But I digress...

The title of the entry today has more to do with the solving of a recent mystery that had both Almapaprika and I stumped. We were on our walk home last Friday when we were passed by the 'daddy' of one of my co-workers, running to catch a bus. We continued down the same road, and about 150 yards after, we saw the same 'daddy' running past us...


...but we had just seen him trying to catch a bus...

...going in the opposite direction...

...two 'daddies'?

Surely not.

After I spoke to my friend, she said she would ask her 'daddy' about it. Well, the answer arrived today. It seems the 'daddy' was trying to catch the bus we saw him running towards first, but was unsuccessful (bus was full). For some strange reason, he crossed the road, and ran back down, as he spotted another bus that had space a stop BEFORE the one we'd seen him at.

But he missed the bus at that stop, and was running back to the original bus stop where we spotted him at to catch the bus (there is an intersection in between, so if a 'daddy' runs fast on the red light, they may be able to catch the bus).

All problems solved, and another case closed by the Number One Chilli Detective Agency in 'Aji Chombo Land (UK Office)'

On the Chilli front, all of the plants are enjoying the week of sunshine and high temperatures. The Rocoto Rojo seedling, which is at home, has had to be tied to a small pole (OK, a pencil), because it's too lanky. I took a photo with the ol' phone cam, but then forgot the USB cable...

I have lost one of the Black Cubans to mold which developed on the seed (the little seedling's leaves just couldn't break out of the seed. Like little bald bean stalks.) Will probably have to 'intervene' with another of the Black Cubans before the same thing happens...


But will talk about it when they arrive next week.

Tuesday, 17 March 2009

Spring is here! Can't you tell???

Yup. Spring (onion) seems to be here.

Warm days.

Students, bastions of the challenge of modernity, post-modernity, neo-post-modernity, ultra-neo-post-modernity and the like, heralds of the revolution of the new and inevitable changes brought about by the incessant juggernaut of the 'awakening' of our piddling little species that we must take care of our planet (before it takes care of us!) go about doing that one thing that sets us apart from Bonobos, Chimpanzees and Gorillas:

They cram into a little space of greenery (Abrecromby Square), where they proceed to frolic and be free to all the student-y things (drink, smoke, drink, smoke, place BBQ's onto the grass, burning it irreparably, smoke some alternative forms of cigarettes, drink) and generally have a good time...

...and leave a trail of garbage and destruction behind them that sometimes makes one wonder 'The generation that's supposed to make a change, right?'

Mom and Dad's generation, or if we're going to be both accurate AND cynical about it, Great,Great,Great Grandpa's generation ('cause Great, Great, Great Grandma was still in the shackle's of 'pre-ultra-neo-post-modernism', and was unaware of the great social revolutions, left to 'man' the household) were supposed to be the ones responsible for the degeneration of 'Gaia' to a state of utter uselessness, what with the glaciers melting, the penguins getting sunburn, and Nicholas Cage turned into an 'Action Hero'.

WE were supposed to be the advanced guard, the 'Marine Recon', the tip of the spear into this new foray of 'globalised self-awareness', with our younger sibling being the main, mauling force of change!



Every 'spring' (onion) since I've been in this place it's the same irrefutable thing:

Students, 'en masse', crowd the little square like Elephant Seals in a small beach, eager and quivering to commence mating season, whilst sunbathing with all the lackadaisical chutzpah of a seasoned veteran of the beaches of the Mediterranean, while producing enough waste to fill every single bin on the little square and then leave a thick film of crud all over the grass. Last summer the garbage filled two skips...PER DAY!

But tell them to clean up for themselves, and you get the fury of the Elephant Seal, (and in the case of some of the jovial sunbathers, the blubber as well), claiming it is it's UNIVERSAL RIGHT to be a pompous, self-righteous, littering arse!


Somewhere in the American West, a native American sheds a lonely, solitary tear for the damage done to his 'earth mother'.

He should instead be getting the moose antlers from the tent and spanking some sense on Elephant Seal derriere.

Friday, 13 March 2009

Save Our Stuff...


This has been a strange week...

Protests (see the top photo. That was at my uni. I could go on a very long talk about the current discussions debate [well, about 150 year old ideological debate] between the sciences and the arts, but to cut a tree into a shrub, the head capsicum at the university wanted to get rid of three, and possibly more, academic departments because they were underperforming. He's been known at previous universities for doing this sort of thing. What he got was a massive protest from the students that would be directly affected by this. Go students! This is what happens when Academic Institutions become Academic Businesses...), elections, candidates with 'ill advised names' (seriously folks, not knowing your nickname is a 'racist' term does not excuse you from saying 'well, everyone knows me as that.' Take some BLINKING responsibility for the fact that you may end up offending some because you ended up with a rubbish nickname that takes a step back some 200 years in the race and equality fight for people in the UK and in the US. But I digress...), and coursework.
Wow! That first parragraph was quite the rant.
Must have been all that chocolate I just had (get it now, folks, before the tax arrives. What a load of rubbish. Tax Chocolate. Bah! Just because doctors are told they cannot be straightforward with people and say 'Sorry, Mr. Wilson, you are suffering from high blood pressure, cholesterol, diabetes, and parts of your skin have become gangrenous because YOU ARE FAT! Not just FAT, smaller and less dense fat people have been caught on your gravitational pull, and orbit around you! There is a cloud made of M&M's and Skittles orbitting around you which if seen from a distance makes you look like SATURN. In fact, NASA has accidentally planned it's next satellite expedition on you, because you've blocked the view from their earth bound observatories. PLEASE, PLEEEEASE reconsider the 35 hamburgers you are eating per meal!' But no, modern niceties and the desire to please everyone ALL OF THE TIME means we end up having to deal with issues that if we gave people the chance to be more direct on, we'd avoid a lot of problems. Not that is irks me or anything...)
(I really should stop ranting. This is, after all, a blog about Chillies.)

And the best thing of all is, the chillies are starting to sprout forth new, true leaves!


The image above is that of the plants that have made it to the windowsill at work. I have new Photos of them, but sadly because they were taken with the camera phone, they all look rubbish...

Just to recap, there are four plants at work: 1 Ring of Fire (Cayenne), 2 Chocolate Sweet Pepper, and 1 Cherry Pepper.

All seedlings are doing super. I watered them with Chilli Focus the first time around, and will probably do fortnightly until they start needing more regular feeding. I plan on leaving them as they are for the weekend, because the soil on the pots feels moist enough, and the heating gets turned down on the weekend at work. Really excited about these little plants.

On the home side, I finally remembered all the names of the ones in pots (helps that I put lables on the pots. I should put labels on my lecturers as well. Saves me from still not knowing their full names after 7 weeks of term). They are the Rocoto Rojo, Belpicen, Stromboli, Etna, and Esplendor. (I might consider labels if one day Almapaprika and I decide to have a whole slew of little chilli pods of our own...)

The NAGAS are sprouting true leaves!!!


I am really giddy about this. I would love to be able to grow my own Naga Morich chillies, just to see what all the hullaballoo is about. Same goes for the Fataliis (and they are also doing quite well).

All in all I've probably lost about 50% of all seeds planted since January, which is ok, since in retrospect, Almapaprika and I probably have space in the balcony/flat for about 10 at most.
I will try to get photos from the houseplants later on in the weekend.
I've ranted too much today. I need...capsicum!

Tuesday, 10 March 2009

Show us your true leaves...

It's been a week since my last post. Weird week, but then again, most are if you want to consider them as such.

I took some of the chillies to work last week, to that beautifully sunny windowsill I've mentioned. Four little plants went:

1 Cherry Chilli
2 Chocolate Sweet (Sweet) pepper
1 Ring of Fire

I even took a little watering can and some Chilli Focus along to give them an initial watering so they can adjust.

Need to check on them today to make sure they are adapting well to life in a sunny spot.

I will try to put up a photo of what they look like on the windowsill soon (camera phone and usb cable ready!)

Two Chillies have sprouted secondary (true) leaves!


One of the Etnas and one of the Esplendors. The two couldn't be any more different unless one was a tomato.

The Etna seedling is long (about two inches), with large, well built leaves. I wish all the seedlings were as well developed.

The Esplendor, on the other hand, looks exactly the same...

...exept it's a midget.

No, seriously.

If it reaches 3/4 of an inch it's a lot.

But there it is, sprouting the secondary leaves with as much gusto as its friend a pot away.

I've moved them to 4 inch pots just to give them a chance to grow in better conditions, and placed them (along with one of the Belpicens and one of the Rocoto and one more I forget. I'm not near the plants at the moment, so doing this from memory) nearer the windows in the bedroom so they can enjoy more sunshine per day.

I've also shifted both the Nagas (I always think half snake, half woman) and some of the Habaneros to the Glass jars. I cannot cease to be amazed how good growing little chilli seedlings in a glass jar is.

I'm using Olive jars I clean up and sterilize (the brine and oil from the olives and pickling solution can cause havock on seedlings)

But I just realised I might be posting this on the wrong blog!

I'm copy pasting it to the right one....


Monday, 2 March 2009

Elle Magazine?! Magazine?!

Almapaprika was having a grand ol' time last night complaining about the 'Fashion Mag' (there's an oxymoron for you) she'd bought, and rightfully so. The magazine (Elle, if I remember correctly), was choc full of everything except what you'd expect from a mag: articles.

I mean she sped through the first 45 pages (out of a 120 page 'Super sized issue') which consisted of (big ominous musical score here...) ADS!

For crying out loud!

Is Shakespeare's tongue dead and buried?

Is there so much competition for writer's bringing you news that 'Black is the new black for winter 2010', or '20 NEW great sex tips on how to drive him wild! (based on the number of issues with that title over the past decade, men should by now be useless sex puppets of a benevolent matriarchy united under the flag of COSMOPOLITAN), that they have to resort to entertaining women with images of (insert snooty french accent) 'Wafer thin' women wearing just enough cloth to cover 1/2 of a CD. The garments (if you'd like to call them that) will range (apparently) from the spendy (£2,000 for a pair of shoes), to the Thrifty (£250 for a practically identical pair of shoes).

What planet do these people live in??


I can understand the occasional (mind you, I define occasional as 'something I would only do once, maybe twice a year) splurge because we need a pick-me-up, but some people LIVE the delusional world of these magazines. The French riviera can only accommodate so many, folks...

They say the current economic downturn did not happen because of people overspending and creating a global climate where the average person was in more debt than they could manage...

...but after perusing through this 'fantasy world of make believe' fashion, I can only surmise that if we take the combined debts of all those who not only 'read' these mags for their informative articles (calm down, Aji Chombo. People have a right to spend their hard earned money [hang on, they buy all this rubbish on credit! It's not their money to begin with!] however they wish [fine. So long as they don't join a picket line and start shouting 'save the poor hungry children of lower lesser hungrystan' right after they've left the shopping centres with thousands of £££ or $$$ worth of useless waffle!]) but also buy thanks to their 'thrifty' recommendations there probably would be NO recession.


But I digress.

I moved some of the chillies to the top of our dresser this morning, so they can get a full blast of sunshine (they need it. I don't think they are getting sufficient sunshine). It WAS sunny this morning, but now it seems that might have been it for the day. Plus we're getting sleet mid week...yay!

Sunday, 1 March 2009


More Chillies bit the dust this weekend. Grrrrr...

I think it's a mixture of things:


The Nagas seem to absolutely love high humidity, whereas the Red Savinas (both now as dead as Windows 3.1) simply withered like the wimpy chillies they are. I lost the second Chi-Chien (sad face here). They were the first chillies to germinate. All in all lost another 8 seedlings, and might lose two more by end of the week.

The good news at least is that the Etna chillies, Stromboli and black Cubans have germinated! Yay! The Etna seedling just shot up like a rocket. I hope it grows big and strong.

I'll start moving some of the seedlings somewhere there they can have more access to heat and sunshine. There's a spot in one of the offices at work like that (beautiful window next to the radiators), so I'm hoping they will mimic the absolutely perfect conditions the ol' window sill at the ol' house and help my chillies grow!

On a separate note, I went pokey-stabbey on Saturday (It's an actual official Olympic sport folks. It's not a 'social' activity in this city. Well, not that I know of). Hadn't gone pokey-stabbey in months (8 to be precise), so I thought I'd be as rusty as a...shoot! can't come up with a smart alec remark... well, I thought I'd be pretty darn rusty.

However, after three hours of pokey-stabbey, I'd done pretty good, losing only three times, and all by one pokey-stabbey point!

Almapaprika's mom and grandparent's where here for the weekend. Hadn't been here in quite a while. They saw some of the sights (more importantly, they saw Almapaprika), and had a pretty good weekend (I hope). I would have probably been a happier co-host had it not been for all the pain I was in. Pokey-stabbey is a very demanding sport, and yours truly ain't exactly Atlas (no, not the ponce with the permanently constipated look from Gladiators)...let alone Atlas' left sandal's toe strap in terms of physical strength. Three hours of pokey-stabey with some younger, more athletic folk, I had held my own. Well done, Aji Chombo! Sadly, you forgot that exerting yourself in that manner without being in shape usually leads to all your muscles being in a world of hurt the following week! Ouch! everything hurts.

Even my hair...