Outside interest: chilli growing

Written by: Jez Abbott
Published on: 2 Dec 2015

Bill BlincoeCoventry and Warwickshire Growth Hub independent planning advisor Bill Blincoe is a keen grower of chillies, including one of the world's hottest chillies, the Dorset Naga, which he has also tasted and insists, “it's not to be recommended”.

How did you get into growing chillies

My father used to grow rare hybrid tomatoes and I became interested, but didn't want to do the same thing. Growing chillies has become very fashionable, but I was doing it before it took off, when seeds were rare and a lot harder to come by than they are today.

What does it involve?

You can grow chillies outside but I keep them in the greenhouse and buy seeds online. Even rare seeds these days are more commonly available, but among the growing community are people hybridising them to produce rare or climate-tolerant chillies – the enthusiasm can be akin to that of the Victorian plantsmen and plantswomen of old. I'm not that obsessive, but get loads of pleasure from nurturing edible plants from seed.

Why do you do it?

I find growing chillies fairly absorbing and love the creative process, first through nature and horticulture, then transforming your crop into something man made such as home-made chilli jam.

What’s the toughest thing about it?

Keeping plants free from bugs is a hard chore: an attack can spread like wildfire, destroy an entire crop and leave you with nothing, so care must be taken to sterilise equipment and isolate disease.

What’s the most rewarding thing about it?

The finished crop is always the most rewarding aspect of growing chillies, especially when you've put in the time and effort to prepare soil and control the environment. Sharing produce among family and friends is also a pleasure.

Are there any similarities between your day job and growing chillies?

Both planning and growing chillies require close attention to detail and patience and both are rewarding in the sense of pride in a job well done, be it a successful planning outcome or a beautiful crop of healthy red, purple or green chillies – they come in all colours these days.

Do you have any unusual interests or hobbies that you would like to tell us about? If so, please email planning@haymarket.com