2012 hasn’t provided the ideal conditions for growing heat- and sun-loving chillies, so I am proud to show off the results of my February-sown chillies. So much so, that I’m taking a trip to The Great Dorset Chilli Festival this weekend (4-5Aug) in Wimborne St Giles, to see if I can bag a prize for my pot-grown chilli ‘Chenzo’ plants (below).

I’ve been amazed at the fruiting strength of these plants (three in this large pot), especially compared to my grow bag sweet peppers, which are poor in comparison, so I’m keen to hear what the judges will have to say about the plant. Until the purple fruits ripen to red it’s hard to see them in the photo above, but I estimate I have at least two hundred chillies hanging on the plant at the moment with plenty more to come.

I’m not a show-bench gardener by any means, this will be the first time I’ve ever entered a plant into competition. My main reason for the trip is to feed my addiction for all things chilli.

The show promises a long list of exhibitors from seed and plant retailers, to chefs and sauce makers – Jamaican jerk chicken, fuelled with the heat of scotch bonnet chillies, will be top of my list for lunch, but I’ll be sampling as much fiery-food as my tongue can stand!

With belly full and tongue glowing, I’ll be hitting the seed stands to pick out new varieties to grow next year, and with space left in the greenhouse I might just pick up a few plants to boost this season’s harvest too.

If you’re as passionate about chillies as I am, get yourself to Dorset this weekend. If you hear loud hiccups as you walk around the show, you’ve found me – it’s the one side effect I suffer from when eating my favourite vegetable!


See Amateur Gardening 25 August to see how I get on.