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Beechgrove Potting Shed "chilli farm"

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Helen Needham | 15:05 UK time, Thursday, 9 December 2010

One of our audio engineers here at BBC Radio Scotland, Aberdeen, entered into the spirit of things at the Beechgrove Potting Shed. Ron McCaskill decided he'd do his bit to add some colour to our collection of plants and bring on some chillis...

Back at the end of summer, we got a few small chilli and sweet pepper plants. These were going cheap at a well known DIY store as it was a bit in the season, so as an experiment, we wondered if they would grow in the office. Although all the plants put on good growth, the flowering was very late, and the pollination very poor. We did put them outside for a couple of weeks, and a lot of the flowers did set, but most of the pods dropped off when very small.

We had four plants on the windowsill, A Scotch Bonnet chilli, a Hungarian Hot Wax Chilli, a Habanero Chilli and a Romano Sweet pepper. The only ones that were successful were the Hungarian Hot Wax and the Habanero. The others failed to ripen any pods in our conditions.

Habanero Chilli and Hungarian Hot Wax Chilli

Habanero Chilli and Hungarian Hot Wax Chilli

As the Hungarian Hot wax looked the best, I decided to make Chilli Con Carne out of them, Unfortunately I didn't realise these are a Paprika type chilli with a "Hotness" rating of about 2,500 to 8,000 Scoville Heat Units. The Habanero's would have been better for Chilli Con Carne, as they have a rating of 100,000 to 350,000 Scovilles.

Anyway, I made the chilli con carne with the Hungarian Hot Wax, and wondered why it was so mild, but "earthy" tasting, so I used some ordinary chilli powder, and my secret ingredient, Cajun seasoning, which along with a little soy sauce, and worcester sauce in the mix, gives a great depth of flavour.

Chilli con carne, made with the Hungarian Hot Wax chillis

Chilli con carne, made with the Hungarian Hot Wax chillis

So, the "bargain plants" were not really much of a bargain, although they were quite fun to grow. I think if we'd used richer compost and been able to get them pollinated early enough they might have been more successful.

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