Spice up in garden and kitchen
When I first moved to Auckland, the vegetable that I couldn't get over was chilies. The fresh chilies here were so expensive costing nearly $1 for a single big red chili. Furthermore, these fresh chilies were not spicy enough and did not give the kick I was used to. I suppose this was largely due to the cold climate here as chili likes hot climate. Then I discovered frozen chilies were far cheaper than the fresh ones. To try out I bought a packet of bird eye's chilies which were imported from Vietnam.
I like to eat noodles with chilies. So, I tested out these chilies by making simple soya sauce with chilies dipping sauce. I took out 3 small chilies and cut into tiny pieces and soak with soya sauce. At first, I was a bit skeptical whether the frozen chilies could give much spiciness. But when I just ate a spoonful of noodles with a tiny chili piece in it, I could already felt the hot burning effect on my tongue! Frankly, I was a person that could eat really hot spicy food and this chili to me was really HOT! I gave a thumb up for it. If anyone is looking for hot chilies then bird eye's chilies from Vietnam is my recommendation.
Kiwis have strong eco-friendly awareness. Seeing almost every household garden produces some fresh food for own use, I too embarked on a gardening journey. As mentioned in my green hopes page, most of my plants were grown from seedlings given by my friends and landlady. Once I saw my garden began to grow and flourish, it gave me much confidence that I might have the required green fingers to do more. With that, I challenged myself to grow more plants from seeds.
I began to surf internet on gardening and ways to sow seeds. Then I came across a video clip showing a great way to sow seeds by using damp towel paper. This method allows you to see the seeds germinate before transferring them into soil which was more encouraging than planting straight into the soil and not knowing whether the seeds were good enough to germinate. After seeing the video clip, it gave me an idea to try out sowing the frozen Vietnamese chilies seeds since I liked the chilies so much.
On 21/01/2010, I took out about a dozen seeds from a frozen chili and spread them on a damp kitchen towel paper. Then I placed the paper into a zip lock bag and inflated the bag by blowing some air into it before sealing it up. As chili seeds needed warm spot to germinate, I kept the bag on top of the boiler in the water boiler room to ensure constant warm temperature. After 10 days (normal seeds germination period was 8-10 days), I was really overwhelmed to see out of dozen odd seeds, 2 of the seeds did germinate. I did not have high hope on these seedlings because they might have been frozen for quite a long time already.
|From 01/2010 to 12/2010|
However, the sowing timing was not right; I was s a bit too late in sowing the chilies. Warmth is the biggest key in successfully germinating the chili. By the time these chilies started to sprout and grew in February, the weather had started to chill. With the weather turned chilly, these two chili plants seemed stagnant in their growth even though I placed them in warm sunny spot on my balcony. Nevertheless, I didn't give up on them and kept watering them. One of the chili plants kept growing but another did not and remained at about 3 inches height only and did not seem very hopeful.
Finally when the winter was over and after my landlord revamped our back yard in December 2010, I started to cultivate another new veggie garden. Seeing the two plants had not grown much in the pots, I decided to give a final try by removing these chili seedlings from the pots and transferring them to ground. To my surprise, the bigger seedling didn't survive but the smaller seedling which I thought couldn't survive grew healthier and healthier and it even flourished and fruited by this summer!
|Fruited @ 03/2010|
It turned out that of my 2 years gardening experience in the Kiwi land, this Vietnamese bird's eye chili tree is one of my most successful plants that I had planted. It has taken me nearly a year to grow from a frozen seed to now a full grown chili tree. J