Healthy Russian peppers
Sweet peppers are one of those crops, like basil, that quickly falls victim to aphids, especially in an enclosed environment like my conservatory.
Everything else will be untouched, but peppers plants will be deformed twisted horrors.
I decided to try an early Russian variety, called Healthy, developed in the mid-1990s, from Plant World Seeds.
Each wedge-shaped fruit is about four inches long and ripens from yellow through orange to red even during cloudy summers.
They were sown, along with the chillies, at the same time as the tomatoes (early March) – they do need some heat to germinate and good light conditions.
To ward off the inevitable greenfly, I planted a garlic clove with every plant – and it did help.
There was a minor attack earlier in the season, but the peppers draw up the insecticidal properties of the garlic, so whatever sucks the sap doesn’t last long. Of course, it’s perfectly safe and organic.
Potted guide: chilli heat
The Scoville Scale is the measurement of the pungency (spicy heat) of chillies or other spicy foods in Scoville heat units (SHU), or capsaicin concentration, named after its creator, US pharmacist Wilbur Scoville.
Popular chillies in descending order of hellishness:
- 2,000,000-2,200,000 SHU: Trinidad Moruga Scorpion, Carolina Reaper.
- 855,000–1,463,700 SHU: Naga Viper; Bhut Jolokia (ghost pepper), Trinidad Scorpion Butch T pepper; Bedfordshire Super Naga.
- 100,000–350,000 SHU: Habanero chilli, Scotch bonnet pepper.
- 30,000–50,000 SHU: Cayenne pepper, Tabasco pepper.
- 10,000–23,000 SHU: Serrano pepper.
- 3,500–10,000 SHU: Jalapeño.
- 100–900 SHU: Paprika, Pimento.
- 0 SHU: Sweet bell pepper.
Going Loco over chillies
I’m a bit of a girl when it comes to chillies, but Loco is a great plant. It’s compact (about 2ft) and bushy and covered with flowers.
It’s decorative – the inch-long cone-shaped fruits are held upright above the foliage like little fairy lights.
The fruits start purple/cream, changing from orange to red – the look like plump blackcurrants.
Loco, despite its name, is not supposed to be that hot – slightly less than a cayenne pepper, a medium heat level of about 24,000 SHU.
Which Gardening Chilli Trials 2012 recommended it as a Best Buy – it said: “The small rounded fruit looked very attractive, both when they were an unripe cream and purple and when they turned a ripe, rich red.”
Loco is UK bred, so makes an excellent plant for the patio.