In 2020 I went to Sicily and my uncle gave me two dried chilli peppers from his garden. He lives in Rome, hence his brother in law takes care of his green space on the Taormina coast where he has some beautiful chilli peppers plants. When we ate together, his brother in law would take one of the red chillies and cut it into small pieces and put it on his pasta. He has been doing this all his life.
When back in the Netherlands I tried to grow them from the seeds inside the chillies he gave me. The summer of 2021 I managed to get 3 plants and a harvest of 7 chillies, of which only 3 turned red. One of them I took back to Italy and had the chance, even though it was for a mourning occasion, to share it with my uncle as well as my shrinking family in my hometown.
This spring I planted the seeds of those chillies and thought I needed more than 3 chillies for self consumption and hence I put in a lot of effort and care, even though I have never been too keen on spicy foods.
I have been taking care of these chillies like they were pets, and after many months of watching them daily I managed to get 9 plants. I could not believe I had managed 9, they were small at first and I remember thinking: “Well, OK, I managed to get the plants, but I will hardly get any peppers, they may not flower, but let’s just be happy for managing an imperfect number of plants.”
As months went by I started to get the first green chillies, I could not believe it again, after all I live in the Netherlands and these grow best in Sicily or Calabria in the deep South of Italy, but they still looked pretty good in the unusually warm Dutch summer of 2022. I then needed to repot to bigger containers to increase the yield. It worked, one of the biggest pots I had available on my small balcony had an incredible yield, some 20 chillies on one plant that got the sunniest spot.
Then I remember looking at the green chillies and thinking there is no way they are gonna turn red, maybe a few but most of them will stay green. Well, that’s fine too, they are still beautiful plants.
We are in September and my chillies are now almost all red. I don’t stop taking care of them, because they need almost daily watering but I started eating them. I had the most delicious pasta which I shared sitting on my balcony. I also had them on bread with oil, and I put them on fried eggs.
Because they are best when they are fresh, I want to share them. But I’ve got plans, and by asking friends and acquaintances to chip in € 1 I could fundraise for a Elho Grow Table.*
Then I can start planting some more green stuff for the winter in a community space.
A small amount to fundraise, but a big pot for more veggies
Do you want to help me? Then please buy one of these chillies and eat it with your favourite recipe. There are so many ways you could enjoy them, but here is a simple pasta dish I can recommend.
If you do cook something special, you are welcome to share the photos of your dish.
If you know me just drop me a personal message, and I will meet you in person to give you the chilli pepper. Few lucky ones will get the whole plants.
Maybe this is silly, and I will hardly get enough money to buy the grow table, but I do take some pleasure in beating my scepticism. Sometimes all it takes to spice things up is… red hot chilli peppers!
Target for buying the grow table (Target reached!)
*After a failed expedition to a Praxis in Rotterdam to find the Elho Growth Table, I decided to go for a wooden version, which I thought was more sustainable and had a better and more earthy design. See it below in the soon to be improved community back garden!