Right now, I’m not entirely sure where my chilli plant is. I’m not sure this is a bad thing.
Back in March, I planted about 20 chilli seeds from a batch that my friend Rosanna gave me. Only one of these sprouted. But it grew into a massive plant and, for a time, I felt smug at my skill.
Growing plants was a big deal for me. People sometimes told me a few green things would make my house seem warmer and more welcoming, but I didn’t want the responsibility of plants. The one time I was given one, by my friend Teresa, I had the sad duty of watching it die and wither, despite my efforts.
I almost killed this plant a couple of times. While I was away for 5 nights on the Pennine way, my house sitter cancelled. I arrived home just in time to find the plant almost dead. Looking after another living thing makes you aware of the true fragility of life.
I almost killed the plant on one of the hottest days of the year, when it was between the window and the curtain, roasting in the trapped heat. In a few hours it had dried out precariously. But it survived and even flowered. Then the the flowers kept dropping off, littering the shelf around. But there was no sign of fruit.
I checked back on Rosanna’s instructions: Put it in a 9″ pot, if you haven’t done already, and keep it wet. If it’s dropping flowers (without leaving little chilli-nubs behind) then it’s unhappy. Either the pot is too small, or it’s too dry, underfed, or too wet (the latter is unlikely).
One problem was that I’d somehow bought a 7 inch plant-pot, not a nine inch one, so that was quickly fixed, but it didn’t help. Chillis are considered to be one of the easier things to grow. Growing what is, essentially, a garnish, is proving so tough that it amazes me that someone, somewhere is growing enough plants to keep me alive.
With all the travel I’ve been doing lately, I had to find someone else to look after the plant. The photo at the top of the page shows me carrying the plant across Hove. And, a few days after the plant left my house, I received a video from the friend looking after it. The blurry short piece of footage reveals something unexpected. Look close at the centre of the picture and you can just about make it out.
Among the leaves is a tiny green Scotch bonnet pepper. The minute my back is turned, a fruit appears. All this grief for a single pepper, when I could buy a fresh one for pennies. A whole pound would buy me a bottle of Encona. It seems a lot of work for little payback.
The friend who was caring for the plant is away for a few weeks, and I’m not sure if they’ve made arrangements. Maybe they’ve given the plant to someone else to look after.
My lounge does feel emptier without her though, and it would be easy to be reunited. I really should find out where my chilli plant has got to.