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Planning for 2017 - advice needed please

I’ve narrowed down my list to the following:
Definites:
·         Chocolate Habanero
·         Scots Bonnet MOA (fingers crossed I get a few seeds from the European train)
·         Aji Lemon Drop
·         Numex Twilight
·         Filius blue
 
Possibles:
·         Chocolate Douglah
·         Carolina Reaper
·         Bhut Jolokia
·         Golden Cayenne
·         Ring of Fire Cayenne
·         Etna
 
I don’t think I have space for all of these so I need to whittle down the “possibles”.  So, if I only grow one variety out of  Carolina Reaper, Chocolate Douglah and Bhut Jolokia, which should it be and why?  And one out of Golden Cayenne, Ring of Fire Cayenne and Etna – again which and why?
 
I’m looking for a good variety of heat levels and flavours and ease / difficulty of growth.  (Happy to take on a challenge but, in case they fail, I’d like something reliable as well.)
 
Thanks in advance for any suggestions.  I know it’s personal taste but I have to start somewhere and I can’t grow everything at once.  I haven’t found a supplier who ships labelled fresh pods to the UK so I can try them out for taste.  If you know of anywhere, please tell me!
 
From your "possibles" list I have grown all except for the Etna - so I can't comment on that particular pepper.
 
The Reaper I have grown for two years - multiple plants each year - and it isn't the most popular pepper on my list.
It is almost a gimmick for me, as in "I am growing one of the hottest peppers in the world, if not the hottest"....
It is not very productive and the pods do vary in shape and mostly size.
Yes it is hot, extremely hot, however the heat is not consistent in every pod.
The inconsistency in size and heat is not the real issue for me, it is the productivity.
The plant grows tall ( long summers here in Sydney Australia) but the pod production is discouraging.
I am growing the reaper again this year from a different seed source; if the trend continues I will not grow it again.
 
With the Chinense variety I am all about productivity as they all have searing heat, some obviously more than the others and a wonderful floral fruity scent.
From your list I will grow the Bhut Jolokia.
It is productive (more than the reaper) , the heat will still melt a square cm off the North Pole and the scent is the wonderful chinense aroma we all know.
The Douglah is extremely hot, the productivity is on par with the Bhut but since you are already growing the Chocolate Hab the Bhut Jolokia (red?) should give you a nice contrast in colours without much compromise in heat.
 
I have grown the Golden Cayenne and the Ring of Fire; not a big fan of both. The golden cayenne is not productive and the flavour was not noteworthy. The Ring of Fire was a little more productive than the golden cayenne but again nothing special.
 
I know it's not on your list but have you considered an annuum like the Red Thai Chilli. It's an easy plant to grow and its growth is very vigorous once established.
I had one in a 9 litre pot and it produced constant peppers all summer round with very little attention.
A bigger pot and more TLC and you won't need another annuum.
The heat is instantly strong but doesn't last like a Chinense. Great flavour and very versatile.
Can be used fresh, pickled, in a baked dish, dried and ground into powder.
 
If you don't have access to Thai Chilli seeds I would rather grow the Bhut and the Douglah.
I'm sure you can find peppers with similar heat and structure to the Cayenne and Ring of Fire at your Supermarket or Grocery shop.
That's my experience and opinion, I'm sure others may think different.
 
 
 
rising_fast thank you so much for taking the time and trouble to give such a detailed response.  This year I am growing an un-named chilli (bought from the supermarket) which is perhaps similar to a red thai chilli; it is small and bushy and prolific.  The peppers grow upwards or outwards facing.  It's still going and in fact has new flowers on now.  I'm hoping to over-winter it and I have saved some seeds, although it might be an F1 so wouldn't come true from seed.  I thought the Etna would be of a similar type.  But I'm interested in your opinions of the two cayennes as I had thought that they should be easy and relatively productive, especially the ring of fire.  So that maybe pushes me towards the Etna.
 
With the chinense, pps up thread have also recommended the bhut jolokia so you've added weight to that.  If I do try the Reaper it will absolutely be for the "Guinness World Record Holder" bravado rather than any other reason as I've seen lots of people say there are far better peppers out there, including the chocolate douglah.
 
 
 
I would also choose the Bhut Jolokia as far as the super goes. Mine have been very prolific, which is a strong consideration for me, and as stated previously it still packs a punch! I grew two Reapers this year and neither of them put out all that many pods compared to my Bhuts or my Brainstrain plants.

I've grown the golden cayenne and wasn't all that impressed. Now here is the truth: everyone's taste buds are a little different so what may not be great to some is going to be the best in the world others. Sure we can look at trends regarding growth patterns but tastes are going to be subjective.
 
The Bhuts have a unique flavour and, except for the red one, they're all great producers.
The Douglah is excellent too.

Really disappointed by the reaper, slow to ripe, not that great flavour
 
Guitarman said:
The Bhuts have a unique flavour and, except for the red one, they're all great producers.
Red bhut not so good? I have seeds of other colours (chocolate and white) but thought red would be best, especially with growing chocolate hab.
 
Mitzi said:
Red bhut not so good? I have seeds of other colours (chocolate and white) but thought red would be best, especially with growing chocolate hab.
No,no they're delicious as well!
Only less productive
 
Having decided I can squeeze in more plants than I previously thought, this is now my revised 2017 grow list – well, my “attempt” list; I’m not assuming they will all succeed.  I’d welcome any thoughts as to whether this is a reasonable mixture. 
 
All the chinenses will be sown in January and grown on under lights (hopefully Santa will bring them for me) and then on south facing windowsills.  Some of the others will be sown in late Feb or early March and put outside (in large pots) after last frost.  I’m hoping for a bit of space in a friend’s greenhouse but that’s likely to be only for one or two plants.  I have a generally cool climate and short growing season and realise that the superhot chillies in particular may not do so well in their first year and may be tricky to overwinter.  Nothing ventured, nothing gained.
 
Chinense:
·         Carolina Reaper – for my other half; I’m not so bothered myself but he wants it
·         Bhut Jolokia (red) – I believe it's tricky to germinate but likely to be more productive than the reaper, so hopefully a better chance of getting something to harvest.  Noted comments above about other colours of bhut being more prolific but that's for another year.
·         Habanero Chocolate – want to try it because so many people on here recommended it
·         MoA SB (yellow) – hoping to get some proper tam shapes (apparently difficult in our climate) and SB heat level is about right when I want something hot
·         Purple Peach – similar to Cheiro Roxa / Fidalga Roxa except the pods are round?
 
Baccatum:
·         Aji Omnicolor – ornamental appearance, productive and very usable; sounds perfect!
·         Sugar Rush (probably peach; gifted seeds haven’t arrived yet) – to see what it really tastes like
·         Aji Melocoton - to compare with Sugar Rush
·         Aji Pineapple – have seen threads on here saying this is the same as Lemon Drop but I haven’t grown that either; supposed to be productive, tasty and relatively cold tolerant?
 
Frutescens:
·         Chenzo F1 – early fruiting and suitable for patio pots in a cold climate, plus striking-looking mottled pods according to some descriptions
 
Annuum:
·         Aleppo – as a tribute to the Syrian people and sounds like a good variety anyway
·         Etna – hopefully very productive for everyday culinary use
·         Golden Cayenne – for the colour and hopefully easy to grow
·         Peter Pepper – for the amusement value, plus it’s also in the very useable heat range
·         Numex Twilight – mainly for ornamental appearance but also culinary use
·         Filius Blue – again mainly for ornamental appearance
 
 
Hi Mitzi
 
I've been meaning to reply for some time! Doh! I think your list is good, and the timings should be about right. I'm not keen on the Numex Twilight for eating personally. If you discard the seeds there's not much left. It looks pretty and I imagine you'll have plenty for eating from your other varieties.
 
For our short season (I'm in Cheshire so probably a bit south of you, but check our latitude; about the same as Edmonton, Canada!) you will certainly benefit from those lights. I grew about 20 chinenses this year and the earliest to fruit and highest yielding was Trinidad Scorpion Yellow CARDI. Second was Bahamian Goat. Worth considering if you don't get results from the varieties you have.
 
For advice on growing in the north of England and window sills and the like I'd suggest having a word with Dennish who's a member here and on the Chillis Galore forum in the UK. He's achieved the most awesome and consistent results without resorting to extravagant measures. For years he was germinating on his set top box with great success. This is his glog http://thehotpepper.com/topic/58709-dennish-2016-bacca-to-the-future/page-7
 
I'd be wary of the size of pots folks have talked about here. I'd recommend self watering pots that can be home made or proprietary. The Greenhouse Sensation Chilligrow is popular and may fit your window sills. The pots are 6 litre and quite a lot of people use them and are very happy with the results. http://www.greenhousesensation.co.uk/chilligrow.html
 
It's quite possible to make the same quality for a lot less. Here's a Goat's Weed that I've just transferred to the windowsill for the winter. 4 litre pot but filled with only 3 litres of compost. The reservoir is an Ikea Trofast toy storage tub. Total cost £2.50. This will produce a plant as big as your windowsill will sustain.

http://www.ikea.com/gb/en/products/childrens-ikea-products/children-3-7/childrens-storage-furniture/trofast-storage-box-black-art-00252578/
 
For propagating you might want to look at a Garland Super 7 propagator as it's windowsill sized and people like it.
http://www.garlandproducts.com/super-7-electric-windowsill-propagator.html
 
Good luck and keep us posted. 
 
Jez, thanks for the detailed reply, it's great to hear you've had good success in Cheshire.  I didn't know the Numex Twilight isn't great for eating; I was hoping it would be OK shoved in a curry or chilli con carne.  I don't tend to discard the seeds of medium-heat peppers so maybe it will be OK?  Anyway, I'm planning to grow it on my Mum's patio so the prime requirement is that it looks nice enough to meet with her approval.  I don't have either of the chinenses you mentioned, so can't give those a try.
 
Santa came early and brought me a Garland 7.  I'm not sure it gets warm enough for Superhots, though, as the house is quite cold and we only have the heating on in the evening plus an hour in the morning.  I've put an electric radiator in that room timed to come on at night when the central heating goes off.
 
I like your home made autopot!  What are you using for a wick?  Do you just have water in the base or some nutes?  I've seen some smaller ones using plastic pop bottles and thought I might give those a go as an intermediate size pot before the largest.  Someone else recommended the Chilligrow to me, and they will indeed fit my windowsills, but it depends how much money I have to spare, and how many plants I've managed to raise, by the time they get to potting-on size.  This year the pots I used were far too small but I was kind of an accidental chilli grower in 2016 and want to do it better next year.
 
The main thing right now is to get some lights.  I've read lots about it and got very confused because everyone seems to prefer something different.  The T5 High Output or T5 Sunblaster (same thing?) seem to be very popular, so that's what I'm thinking of getting.
 
 
 
Mitzi said:
Jez, thanks for the detailed reply, it's great to hear you've had good success in Cheshire.  I didn't know the Numex Twilight isn't great for eating; I was hoping it would be OK shoved in a curry or chilli con carne.  I don't tend to discard the seeds of medium-heat peppers so maybe it will be OK?  Anyway, I'm planning to grow it on my Mum's patio so the prime requirement is that it looks nice enough to meet with her approval.  I don't have either of the chinenses you mentioned, so can't give those a try.
 
Santa came early and brought me a Garland 7.  I'm not sure it gets warm enough for Superhots, though, as the house is quite cold and we only have the heating on in the evening plus an hour in the morning.  I've put an electric radiator in that room timed to come on at night when the central heating goes off.
 
I like your home made autopot!  What are you using for a wick?  Do you just have water in the base or some nutes?  I've seen some smaller ones using plastic pop bottles and thought I might give those a go as an intermediate size pot before the largest.  Someone else recommended the Chilligrow to me, and they will indeed fit my windowsills, but it depends how much money I have to spare, and how many plants I've managed to raise, by the time they get to potting-on size.  This year the pots I used were far too small but I was kind of an accidental chilli grower in 2016 and want to do it better next year.
 
The main thing right now is to get some lights.  I've read lots about it and got very confused because everyone seems to prefer something different.  The T5 High Output or T5 Sunblaster (same thing?) seem to be very popular, so that's what I'm thinking of getting.
 
 
 
Mitzi, I wouldn't dissuade you from growing anything. Numex Twilight and Medusa were the first 2 chilli plants I bought, many years ago and I loved the look and I could include them in food. It's more an observation that you'll have lots of pods and by the end of the season you'll like the Numex twilight for looks! It will be fine shoved in a chile or curry.
 
Wrap the Garland in bubblewrap and you'll gain several degrees in temp and it'll be fine for superhots. Germination is quite flexible. Within bounds, the lower the temp, the better the germination but the longer it takes. I've just germinated a batch of Shabu Shabu (closely related to Bhut Jolokia) at 27C. 7 days or so. I do think your Garland will be fine.
 
Lights will add to the temp so bear that in mind. Lights can add to cost to buy and cost to run. People buy lights for different reasons so ask yourself what you want to achieve. The benefits you need in early season from lighting, and for seedlings, are low compared with bigger plants and more demanding circumstances. Even in Jan and Feb, natural light in your south facing window will be huge compared to artificial light alone. If you're around the plants every day you could make something to put over the plants for 2 or 3 hours to add light after sunset and that could well provide all you need.
 
What I'm thinking is a cardboard rectangle, sized to fit around your Garland, about 30 or 40cm deep, a couple of normal, bayonet bulb holders from home bargains, £1.99 and a couple of those cfl bulbs, 10 or 15W. I'm talking the higher wattage of the household bulb that is a squiggly tube rather than an orb if that's not too patronising and it's not intended to be. Give the plants, in the Garland, natural light all day anf then slide your cardboard sleeve with a couple of clip on domestic cfls over the lot for 3 hours or so in the evening.
 
Your Garland purchase is a really sound investment. My light recommendation will get you plants up and running for this season in a timely way and will cost you about £6 and let you make choices for next year. I've used these when needed and they have worked well for small plants.
 
The "autopots" work fine and use wicks cut from capillary matting from ebay. I bought from a charity vendor using ebay last year and after your post \i looked back. They no longer list but there is a lot of capillary matting on ebay! For dimensions I asked Dennish, who buys wicks from Greenhouse sensation. I downsized a little as my pots are smaller.
 
I'll try and post pics of using 2 litre plastic bottles, cut in half. They use the same principle and have worked very well for me. In about 2011 I overwintered, I think, 35 plants in those pots on a windowsill in an unheated bedroom and as I recall 35 survived. I have pics to find and share.
 
Re small pots, I think it's actually staying on top of watering that is th major issue. The plant may not ever get wilty but air and water availability around the roots may not be optimum so much of the time. As a noob or an old hand, getting self watering pots with a wick will change your life and improve your yields more than anything else.
 
I put my Bahamian Goat plant into a grow tent and it has a couple of late season pods just ripening. If you'd like me to send you one it'll give you a taste. If you like it you can save the seeds to grow next season. Dennish would provide you with TS yellow CARDI seeds I'm sure. PM if this suits. Good luck!
 
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