If you’ve still got some chillies growing in a greenhouse at the end of autumn then why not give them a prune and bring them indoors to overwinter. You’ll be able to harvest for longer, and if they do well you may even get another crop from them next year! It works best with potted plants as you don’t need to disturb their roots, but you can also try with plants that are growing in beds. Here’s how:
- If your chillies are growing in a bed, carefully loosen their roots using a fork and pull them up. Transfer them to a pot of compost that is large enough to hold the rootball and water them in well. (You can trim the roots down a little if you like)
- Bring your potted chillies undercover to grow in the house in a consistently warm room that gets plenty of light during the day. (If your greenhouse is heated you can leave them in there.)
- Once the leaves and stalks start to turn brown it’s time to prune them. Harvest all your chillies first. You can either whizz them up with oil to make a chilli paste that will keep in the fridge, or you can freeze them whole ready to be cooked from frozen as and when you need them.
- If your plant is growing on a single stem then simply cut that stem back to approximately 20cm tall.
- If you have a bushy plant then cut each stem back to approximately 15-20cm, leaving 2 or 3 buds/nodules on each stem.
- Water lightly once a week until spring when you can plant them out again for an earlier crop.
Overwintering chillies doesn’t always work and some varieties do better than others. We have found that those with smaller fruits do better. Unfortunately sweet peppers (and the larger chillies) don’t overwinter very well at all. But it is well worth a try and quite fun the next year if you succeed!