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What are chile peppers?


They are versatile plants with thousands of different varieties for different cooking, ornamentals, even medicinal purposes.
They have been utilized by men for thousands of years. (Oldest findings are over 8000 years old).
Origin is at the heart of the South-America. They were spread to other continents long before Columbus found his way to America even though it's commonly known that Christoffer Columbus and other explorers brought the chiles to Europe. He actually tasted chile pepper (Chiltepin) and thought it was a normal pepper (Piper nigrum). That's actually the reason why chile peppers are still called peppers.
It's very likely that the explorers brought chile peppers to much wider attention during those days.




Generally people know just the classic form of chile pepper. They doesn't usually know that there are thousands and thousands of chile peppers that vary a lot from each other. Other plants grow in dry places and are tiny, 10cm bushes. Others grow in moist jungles and can grow to huge trees with thick woody trunks. There are huge number of different pod and plant forms and sizes, tastes, heat levels, colors and growing habits.
The growing is actually very easy. Some plants can be more difficult to grow than others, mostly because they want a different kind of climate or a growing method. All chile peppers can be easily grown even though they differ from each other.
Just find the species and varieties that are the best for your environment, schedule and care. Scientifically Chile Peppers (Capsicums) belong to nightshade family (Solanaceae).
Other examples of plants that belong to this group are: Potatoes, Physalis peruviana (Cape Gooseberry), tobacco, tomato and Eggplant. Nightshade family also contains many toxic plants.
However all Capsicum plants are non-toxic.


 

Bell peppers are exactly same plants as chile peppers.They have been bred to be non-pungent and as large as possible.

 

 

 

 

 

There are few dozen known chile species from which the group of five are being domesticated by humans, these include:

C. annuum


The most well-known species in Europe, Asia and North America which contains Cayennes, Jalapeños, Bell Peppers etc.).
This group includes a large number of different varieties that range from tiny, even smaller than 0,5cm berries to 30cm elongated pods.

C. frutescens


The famous variety 'Tabasco' which is used in a sauce that made it as famous as it is now. Doesn't contain nearly as many different pod types than C. annuum for example.

C. chinense


The group of the hottest chiles. Contains a large number of different varieties that can differ a lot from each other. Chinenses have very unique taste which makes some people to crave and some hate them. Even chinenses contain mild, and non-pungent varieties.

C. baccatum



Aji's, -well known in South America. Contains a huge group of pod types, tastes and colors that differ from each other. Especially the taste of the C. baccatum pods is very good in most cases. it's not nearly as well known in elsewhere but South America as it should be.

C. pubescens


Rocotos, -Utilized by incas and other native people for thousands of years. The pods are mainly very large, thick-fleshed and quite hot. They grow well in high altitudes. They like to have a cold nights or a periods of cold days to produce properly.


'All Chile Peppers are perennials which means they live for many years. I personally know people who have chile plants that are nearly 40 years old!
They won't survive frosty winters outdoors, even though people have successfully overwintered some Aji's in germany for example.
Commonly cultivated C. annuums can die more easily during the overwintering indoors when there's not much light. They also tend to be more susceptible for pests, diseases and other basic growing problems.
Wild and ornamental C. annuums are usually quite tough plants. Especially wild Tepins/Chiltepins can be very tough which makes them ideal of indoor growing during the winter.


 

 

My Tepin from Guatemala enjoys winters indoors here in Finland even when there are very low light levels on the windowsill. This is very rare for chile peppers.

 

 

 

 

 


Are chile peppers good for you?

Chiles are VERY good for your health! They contain a lots of vitamins and minerals essential to nutrition.
They are actually much better for your health than many super foods that are famous these days.
Capsaicin is also a very good substance for your body and mind as it makes your blood circulate and enhances metabolism which makes you much more tolerable against flu and other sicknesses. Capsaicin has been recently found to kill cancer cells!

It also makes your blood sugar levels to even out. This makes it great for a people with diabetes or with a vulnerable blood sugar levels. In other words, it just makes you feel better during the days by evening out your blood sugar levels.

Because chiles make your body work better, your mind will also feel much better. You can ask this from any chile-head who utilizes chiles with almost every meal. As a refresher, chile peppers works much, much better than coffee for example. I used to drink lots and lots of coffee for years long time ago so I know the difference. You are much more alert, cheered up and happy when you consume chiles regularly. You will even sleep much better because of the increased blood circulation, a better metabolism and good mood. Worth trying it out?




Why do people eat chiles? They burn and make you hurt?

Yes, they do burn and hurt if you eat too much.
Your body actually thinks it's in pain and produces endorphins which make you feel good after the pain is over. the aftermath is what chile-heads enjoy after every meal. The pain "isn't real". Your nerve system is just being fooled by capsaicin. Quite interesting isn't it?
When experimenting with chiles, use them in foods carefully. Sooner than you realize, you want to increase the "dose" and you will find out that the food will taste better when seasoned with chile peppers. First of all, the capsaicin that fools your mind makes the endorphin rush make your food taste better and secondly, the taste of a good chile pepper is much more than the plain heat. If you have tasted just the basic Cayenne-type chiles, you might not be familiar with the incredible world of different tastes they have.
Sometimes chile-heads like to have much hotter food which actually makes them hurt while eating. I admit that this sounds strange but after you get used to the burning sensation (which btw. can be much more pleasing than Cayenne family for example) the burning doesn't feel bad anymore. It "just" feels pleasantly strong and makes you feel very good afterwards, like after a long run or a sauna for example.
Once upon a time I didn't like hot food… and this is where I'm now, and very happy with this healthy addiction! :)

How should I cook with chiles?

If you are not a cooking person, like myself. You can carry around your own chile powders when eating at restaurants or just spice up your convenience food, it raises it to whole new level.
I'm happy to have many friends who are very good at cooking and they can use my knowledge about chiles for their foods.
the results are phenomenal!
If you are able to cook, your foods will change completely after you find more about different varieties of chiles!
Chiles actually made me interested in cooking. I'm still a lousy "cook" but I want to learn and will learn as the time goes by.
Start with experimenting freely… there aren't too many foods that chile peppers won't fit into.
Even desserts and candies are great with chile peppers!


Chile pepper chocolate!

Chile powders are easy to work with.
Mix chile powders with your sauces, rice, meat, chicken etc. Experiment carefully and learn from the mistakes and remember the good recipes.




Minced fresh chiles are great to mix with any food. Try with different varieties for completely different results.

It's an great idea to freeze your extra chiles as minced and poured into ice cube containers for easy "fresh" chile access during the winter!


Frozen chile mass.


Just trying another chile pepper variety can change your food completely.
Larger pods can be easily stuffed with a stuffing of your choice; cheese, rice, chicken, meat… Roll up a bacon around the chile pod before moving them to grill and it will make your tongue melt because of the good taste! Or if you use hot varieties, you might melt your tongue because of it. ;)
You will be surprised that almost everything you experiment with chiles result to great foods.

Here are some more processing tips for your yield.

Can I grow my own chile peppers?

Yes you absolutely can and you should try it.
Why? Simply because it's one of the best hobbies there is.
It's fun. It makes you feel happy. It will reward your eyes all the time and your mouth at the end of the season.



It's very therapeutic… there's something that makes you feel very relaxed when caring and checking out your chile peppers.
The huge number of chile peppers, and especially the differences between them are much greater than anyone could tell before growing them for a while.

I have grown over 3000 different varieties of chile peppers now and I'm simply amazed the number of the great tastes and differences there are. I still can find very different new varieties after all these years and the funny thing is that discovering the new varieties still gets more interesting!
After playing and working for over a decade with chile peppers I still feel like a kid in a candy store when I enter the greenhouse with huge amount of different varieties, what that tells about this "hobby" (a lifestyle) of mine? I think it tells that it's worth trying!

The best thing is, you can decide how "serious" you want to be with growing. Just start couple of different varieties and see how it goes from there. If you get more excited, just let it go, it's definitely worth it! Chile Peppers can and will make your life better. There are many places and ways to grow chiles. You can grow them indoors on windowsill, tables, shelves or closets, yard, patios, balconies, greenhouses… where ever you want.


Chiles Growing on a windowsill.


Dutch-Habanero F1 desktop plant.


Small seedlings growing in my greenhouse.


A bit bigger plants in my greenhouse.


Growing chile peppers outdoors.



Aji Cristals in a huge greenhouse!


More Aji Cristals in a huge greenhouse.

Chiles tolerate weather conditions very well. They grow very nicely outdoors even in northern hemisphere, like here in Finland. Just use some kind of dense netting or a lace cloth to protect them from a strong sunshine when you move them outdoors or greenhouse. After few weeks, the protective layer can be removed and the plants will tolerate direct sun nicely.

Plants protected with a lace cloth.

Get seeds for growing chile peppers here.

More information on growing chile peppers here.


You can decide the shapes of your plants will be grown. Chile Peppers are tough plants. You can cut them down as you prefer.
Few years ago I came up with an idea to create bonsai chiles, which I named to "Bonchi".
I came up with the idea after looking at the woody stems and root systems the plants had after one season.


After I harvested the plants, I cut them down completely to make them very short stumps and placed them under artificial light.
Soon they started growing so I planted them into a bonsai pots. After a while, they looked amazing with pods on a small plants in a small container. Actually, I got more chile peppers from those tiny plants than from huge plants I used to overwinter previously so I knew I got something there. These days I overwinter just the most important plants as Bonchi's. After the winter they can be planted into large pots and moved into the greenhouse or outdoors. These plants will start producing very early. After the season when the plants have been harvested again, they can be cut down to Bonchi -form once again. They will look great soon after they grow some foliage indoors. This usually happens in a few weeks.





Guide to create your own Bonsai chiles aka. Bonchi's.


Here's a guide how to create chile pepper jungle from one single mother plant

Is growing chile peppers an expensive hobby?

In a word: No.
You can spent hundreds of euros / dollars to this hobby if you like, or, you can start with very little money for just the seeds and some potting soil and any containers for your plants.
Growing Bonsai Chiles is one very cheap alternative.
Or growing plants on your windowsill.
Just make sure they have plenty of light and don't let them dry out completely and you will have a great yield at the end of the season. That's all the effort you need to spend on this hobby if you like to keep it small.
Or, you can buy (or build) a huge hydroponic systems for your chile peppers and use most of your time with chile peppers if you like. Plan and build growing stuff and greenhouses, heaters, sensors, relays, what ever you want, if you like.
If you are bored and want something to do. Growing chiles can definitely be something to try out.
It's great possibility to mix technics with nature!

So it's a hobby that has contains many sub-hobbies and they all are good hobbies?

Yes!
This is one thing that makes growing chile peppers so great: versatility.
Cooking, growing in several different ways, building, experimenting, collecting, photographing, socializing with other (hundreds of thousands!) chile-heads around the world via internet.
And of course growing wild super rare, almost unknown chile peppers on your windowsill, like the endemic chile pepper plant from the galapagos islands!


C. galapagoense - super rare wild species
available at fataliiseeds.net

Or why not create your own chile pepper species from your favorite varieties! It's actually easy. Click here to learn more! The list will go on and on.

Crossing your own variety.

To me it filled a huge gap in my life, I got a new hobby and job.. something that I really enjoy to do and get paid for it. (very subtly but still…)
I also started photographing because of the chile peppers and now it's one of my main incomes.
I stopped smoking cigarettes mostly because I was afraid of the tobacco mosaic virus that can spread from a smokers hands.
I stopped drinking because I didn't have time for being drunk/hangover = more time for chile peppers and other fun stuff. I never enjoyed being drunk or hangover anyways. No depression or "moody blues" anymore. I simply love being sober and keeping it real. I'm much more efficient & energic now. :)
I changed my job from technical drawer (office stuff...) to chile grower and moved to countryside, the best thing that ever happened!

So you might ask: Can chile peppers change your life? Yes they can, just as much or as little as you want to.

Socializing? Where can I socialize with chileheads?

Join IRCnet channel #fatalii.net for realtime chile discussion in english / finnish.
Here's the easy way to start chatting about chiles immediately:
http://webchat.xs4all.nl/

Join fatalii discussion forum at: http://fatalii.net/forum


Follow and send me messages via twitter - fatalii_net or email me fatalii at sci.fi.
Or google for hundreds of chile pepper communities around the world!


Fatalii.net twitter!

I'm into building and planning stuff, anything interesting for me?


Check out, the projects page at fatalii.net.
Direct link here.

What is hydroponics?


It's growing without soil, basically it means that nutrient solution (water with nutrients) is being circulated and transferred to roots.
There are huge number of different hydroponic systems with different principles.
The most simple and efficient system I have used is definitely EBB & flood system, check growing instructions here - http://fatalii.net/ebb

Hydroponic is much more efficient method of growing.
With the right amount of nutrients the results will be much better tasting too.

Hydroponic growing guide here.

So there are pretty chiles too?

Well, take a look!


Vladans Beauty Pepper


Medusa


Mexican Cluster


Numex Twilight


Cajamarca


Cheiro de Roxa


Lilac


Black ScorpionTongue


Scarlet Lantern


Red Peruvian Rocoto


Red Peruvian Rocoto


Pimenta da Neyde


Purira


Pequante


Black Scorpion Tongue


CGN 19198 x Rocoto F2 #2


CAP 1042


C. lanceolatum


CAP 1144


Marbles


Pimenta da Neyde


Bolivian Rainbow


Bolivian Rainbow

 

I want to see more chile pepper pictures, where can I find them?

http://fataliiphoto.net is the largest chile pepper picture database with thousands of chile pictures, check it out!

Some specific pictures here:

Harvest pictures

Prolific plants

Fiery faces!

Random chile pepper pictures

Pictures and discussion of the commercial greenhouse growing in year 2011 here

Non-chile pepper photos here - http://fatalii.kuvat.net/

How can create my own Chile Pepper hybrids?

 



Simply by taking pollen from the father plant and pollinating the mother plant with it.
Here's a proper guide that shows you how to do it.

How do I start my chile pepper hobby?

Get seeds from here - http://fatalii.net/seeds.
You will get an growing guide with your seed package.
Every order includes growing support just email me at fatalii at sci.fi or tweet to fatalii_net for any questions about growing. :)
+ Some soil and small pots. That's everything you need to start.

Some results with fataliiseeds.net -chile pepper seeds here!


Happy chillin' with chile peppers!



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