Tom Hart Dyke’s Blog

Chillies to knock your socks off!

Well bloggers, before I launch myself into the hot hot hot topic of this week – I have to mention the fact that I’ve learnt of the imminent flowering of Amorphophallus titanum at good old Kew Gardens. It’s the world’s largest un-branched inflorescence. It’s a real stinker and is the largest Arum Lily on this planet. I’ve missed it flower in its native wilds of Sumatra back in my plant hunting days in 1999, missed it flowering in cultivation at the Bonn Botanic Gardens and twice now at Kew Gardens – this will surely be my lucky week?!? I’ll keep you posted with excited anticipation if I go and see it flower in the next couple of days. Dear Bloggers – I’m wetting myself with horticultural glee at the prospect of seeing this beautiful beast of the plant world!

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Anyways back to this week’s Hot Blog and the topic of Red Hot Chillies. At Lullingstone this year with the expert guidance of the charitable organisation – Mocha (Museum of Culinary History and Alimentation) – And in particular Bob Lennox – We’ve been experimenting with a whole range of Chillies – grown outside ALL summer in the open ground in front of a South Facing Wall – which gives the Chillies the sun ray baking that they desire.

Chillies originally from South America, in particular Bolivia are looking stunning at the moment with their diversely shaped fruits hanging from the plants in red, orange & green hues. The range that we’ve grown this season has been immense – from the relatively mild ‘Jalapeno Summer Heat’ with its curious green bullet shaped fruits used in pizza toppings to ‘Serrano Del Sol’ (pictured) with its medium to hot bright red pointed fruits used in salsa or sliced and fried to add piquancy to any dish (this type freezes well) to the knock your horticultural socks off ‘Dorset Naga’ – one of the hottest chillies in the world with scorching heat and a distinctive fruity flavour. ‘Dorset Naga’ was bred by a couple on their allotment in West Bexington, near Dorchester in Dorset. And the New York Police Department (NYPD,) are now using ‘Naga’ Chillies in their Police Pepper Spray – It’s that strong when in contact with your eyeballs! What happens when you consume it!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! – You’ll probably just blow up on the spot!! Combust even!!!

My two tasty favourites are ‘Ancho/Poblano’ which is a mild but tasty chilli originating from Puebla in Mexico. When fried it’s simply divine but also superb for stuffing various food stuffs. And secondly good old ‘Tabasco’ – endowed with small pointed fruit ripening yellow to green then to orange red! It’s the key ingredient of Tabasco Sauce and they have a unique fiery smoky taste. The bonus about the last two is that the ‘next day’ effects are not too bad!! The toilet doesn’t become your 2nd home!!!
The key thing bloggers about our embryonic and experimental Chilli trial in 2010 is that we’ve found these ornamental members of the deadly nightshade family very easy to cultivate outdoors in a sheltered warm site and in pots too. And just before your Chilli Plant succumbs to the imminent Jack Frost – collect one of the Chilli Pods – dry it out, then harvest the seed and off you go Chilli growing in 2011 – easy peasy!