Feeding your chillies is an essential part to keeping your plants healthy and strong, and to ensure they provide plenty of fruit throughout the growing season.
Providing the essential nutrients your chilli plants require begins right at the beginning of the growing process – the growing material that you initially sow your seeds into will give your plants the best possible start. Make sure you go for a good quality sowing compost, ideally the sort with additional feed within the mix. The same is true for the material that you decide to pot your plants on into; choosing a poor quality compost can lack the nutrients required or worse, be harmful to your plants. It’s worthwhile checking how good is your compost.
Feeding you plants
The time to start feeding your chilli plants is around the time they start producing flowers. Feeding earlier than this may well end in large and healthy looking plants, however they may struggle to produce flowers and set fruit. Get into a routine as to when you feed your plants, we find that the best result is to only do it once a week. This can be done with a good quality tomato feed. Have a good read of the instructions for your specific brand, but usually the mix is approximately 40ml of tomato feed to a 10l watering can. Give the plant a good watering at the base until the compost is nice and damp, but not waterlogged. It’s as simple as that, keep up the routine of feeding your plants once a week and you can’t go wrong.
Using an autopot system
Using an autopot system can simplify the process of feeding you chillies even more as it’s basically a process of setting and forgetting. The system comprises of a main water tank into which water and nutrients are mixed, which then supplies individual pots with the correct amount of water and feed over a set period of time. Not only does this method ensure that your plants are getting all of the good stuff they need, you can also abandon the chore of watering your plants on the other days as well. The Devon Chilli Man makes good use of an autopot system in his glasshouses to produce some amazing plants.
The downside to using an autopot system is the cost. The initial outlay can be steep. especially for those new to growing chillies and those that are unsure if their efforts are going to last more than one season. That being said the system is modular, so you could always opt for starting off small and then expand your setup as experience grows.
Importance of feeding
The importance of feeding your chilli plants regularly can’t be overstated; failure to do so will produce plants that look unhealthy, are stunted in growth and will not provide as many pods as you may have hoped.
As an experiment, the Apache plant shown has only been watered and feeding has been completely withheld. It has remained in the original pot and growing medium that the plant came supplied in. Note how the leaves are pale and dropping, and how there is a surprising amount of die-back – this is not something present in our other plants that are correctly fed and watered.