Thai Hot peppers (dried chilies)

Thai hotsEvery year I grow a few Thai Hot pepper plants for my year’s worth of dried hot peppers. I have been using my own seeds for several years now. If I had no seeds, I would just go to an Asian market and buy a bag of dried chilies (most are Thai Hots or very similar) and take seeds from them. Dried hot peppers are an easy source of seeds and they are the ultimate open pollinated fruit.

Most of you know that you are not supposed to grow hot peppers near sweet peppers since the cross-pollination will heat up the sweet peppers. Given this advice and given that hot peppers want as full of sun as they can get, I usually do my Thai Hots as container plants. As container plants I can place them where I want to get the very best sun and to keep them away from my sweet peppers. Moreover, for the containers I have found that nothing beats, chimney liners and chimney thimbles. I am using thimbles now. Thimbles are the part that goes from the chimney into the house. They are 10″ round in cross-section, about 16-18 inches long and made of 1-1.5″ thick clay. Think of them as the heaviest clay flowerpot but without a bottom to the pot. They hold moisture well and the thick clay keeps the roots from overheating.

I set mine on the sunniest part of the driveway. I fill them with compost and put in plants that I have started before hand. They initially grow too much green growth because of all of the rich compost but soon the limited size of the container slows down the top growth and fruiting takes over. I get great production. In a good year, a few (3-4) plants will provide me with dried chilies for more than the year. They are also lovely ornamentals as are most very hot peppers.

When the peppers are all red and/or frost approaches, pull the plants, knock the dirt from the rootball and hang the plants upside down in a warm dry place (the garage?). When the leaves have all fallen off of the plants you can hang them in your pantry along with your herbs and braids of garlic, onions and wild mushrooms (what better way to convince your friends that you are the real deal) or just clip the fruit from the plants and store the dried chilies in bags or containers. When dried they will store in normal cabinets for years. The seed is best if reused in a year.

I get chimney liners and thimbles at a real builder’s supply … not Home Depot or Lowes. Go where they sell bricks and blocks for housing construction. Ask for a deal on ones that are slightly chipped or otherwise imperfect.

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