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Chillies galore! The varieties you need to try to add heat to your dishes

20th November 2020

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Sea Spring Seeds sells almost 100 chilli varieties, and we produce the seeds of about 80 of them on our nursery in West Dorset. We’ve been building our collection for decades, and the chillies come from various sources – for example, some were gifted to us, lots were found in shops and market stalls, and quite a few we’ve bred. Following are some samplings of our offerings:

Dawn and Dusk.
Heat level: hot. A product of our breeding efforts, the chillies Dawn and Dusk are two sides of the same coin. They both produce short bushy plants that need no support, making them a great choice wherever space is at a premium. Likewise they both yield masses of pointed fruit about 6cm long. The fruit are also spectacularly coloured, though Dawn’s change from light yellow to orange and then red as they ripen, whereas those of Dusk mature from a sombre dark purple to a sparkling red. If you can’t decide which one to grow, then why not try them both – they are, after all, a perfect match for each other.

Dorset Naga
Heat level: superhot. Originally from an Asian shop in Bournemouth, this variety can top 1 million Scoville Heat Units, making it one of the hottest chillies in the world. Not only are the fruit scorchingly hot, but they also have an amazingly fruity flavour – an odd combination of beauty and the beast. The bushy plants can grow to a height of more than 2 metres, and are suited to containers 7.5 to 15 litre in volume.  They will, however, need some support to keep them from falling over.

Heat level: medium. Living up to its name, Stumpy is the smallest variety we sell – the bushy plants reach a height of only 12 to 17cm. Their compact size means they are perfect for windowsills, especially when grown in pots 1 to 3 litres in volume. The diminutive, cone-shaped fruit point skywards above the foliage, making it easier to appreciate their eye-catching display of colours as they change from creamy yellow, to orange then red.

Fairy Lights
Heat level: hot. A chance off-type selected from NuMex Twilight, this stunning ornamental has purple-tinged leaves matched by bright purple flowers that develop into purple fruit. As they mature, the fruit dramatically change to yellow, then orange and finally red. The upright plants are medium to tall, and can be grown without support in 2 to 5 litre containers.

Super Tramp
Heat level: hot. The result of our own breeding, this is an early and productive variety suitable for areas with a limited growing season. The fruit are about 6cm long and turn from light green to red as they mature. The short, bushy plants have spreading branches and can be grown in pots as small as 1 litre. For bigger plants and more fruit, however, try using pots 5 to 7.5 litre in volume. Given its early maturity, Super Tramp is worth trying outdoors in warmer parts of the country.

Michael and Joy Michaud
Owners of Sea Spring Seeds, a vegetable seed company.

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