Growing chillies in winter
Well we have just entered winter and the chili plants are starting to feel the cold. I’m not sure what everyone else does over winter but this is basically my approach to growing chillies over winter.
Firstly to give you a bit of an idea on the climate we are dealing with. Our winters are not that harsh, so keeping them alive is very achievable. We normally get a lot of wind, rain and the temps range from -1 deg Celsius to around 16 deg Celsius (30.2F – 60.8F). On the odd occasion we do get early morning frost. But I have got my chillies growing on high ground so the frost does not hit them too bad.
So the battle for me is combatting the overwatering and the 30+ Knott winds. Because what happens is the plants get water logged the ground does not dry out and the chilli plants get flattened by the gale force winds.
Preparing your chillies for winter
So weeks before we come into winter we make sure all our plants are super healthy. We make sure there is a good layer of sugarcane mulch protecting the ground from getting too cold and water logged. We also steak the plants so they have support to battle the wind. Every chilli plant gets stripped of all pods. The reason for this is we just want to make sure the plant is not struggling to support too much weight and it does not have to worry about supplying nutrient to the pods. So once a week during winter we strip each plant of all fruit.
The advantages of keeping your chilli crop alive during winter is, come summer you will have mature plants that will start producing straight away.
Additionally while your chillies are producing lots of pods during the warmer months make sure you dry plenty of pods out and run them through a spice grinder that way you will have plenty of chilli powder to keep you going over winter if your chilli plants do not produce.