If I ever need proof that I’m not ruthless enough to be a proper gardener, the evidence is on my windowsill.*
This Thai hot chilli plant is now in its third year. The other half had it in the greenhouse in its first year but there was no room for it to go into the bed and it ended up in a pot, where it didn’t really thrive. Come the end of the season, it was still looking a bit sorry for itself and I didn’t have the heart to put it in the compost before it had had a chance to do its stuff. I’d heard that chilli plants are actually short lived perennials and can be grown as houseplants so I put it and its sole chilli on the windowsill in our entranceway and waited to see what happened.
What happened was it rapidly cheered up the next spring, flowered like mad, produced a ton of attractive little chillies, and then became a magnet for the aphids that had hitched a lift into the house on a basil plant. By the end of the summer it was looking pretty sorry for itself and I was struggling to control the aphids so I took all the (by now dried) chillies off it, and chucked it outside into one of the named storms to fend for itself. Leafless and chilli-less, it shivered out in the cold and the wind and the rain looking almost – but crucially, not quite – dead. Regular readers will know that I’m a sucker for anything that survives against the odds, so in it came again and sat in the utility room looking like a lost cause until March, when it decided to produce some green shoots and then spent the spring and summer – and now autumn – flowering and fruiting away like a mad thing.
You may be thinking that this is hardly lack of ruthlessness, as I’ve managed to get myself a thriving chilli plant and a ready supply of fresh spicy chillies to hand whenever they’re needed in the kitchen. And that would be true if it wasn’t for the fact that, despite its name, this wasn’t the least hot chilli plant we’ve ever grown. Even our jalapenos, which are pretty mild, throw off a little heat at random from time to time, but you could feed these ones to a baby without a qualm. I don’t know if it’s the hard life it’s lived or just that it’s a duff plant, but so far it’s proved nothing but decorative.
Which is something, I suppose, because after all we’ve been through together, I’m not going to be throwing it out any time soon.
*Actually it’s all over the other windowsills too as the spider plant lockdown baby boom continues, but that’s a story for another day