Growing Chili Peppers: A Heated Subject
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This is the VOA Special English Agriculture Report.
Some people who like to eat very hot chili peppers say that they can help you breathe better if you have a cold. Others believe that chilies give you added energy. We cannot confirm those ideas. But we can tell you that people have been growing chilies for centuries, and there are many kinds.
In fact, a gardener at the Colorado State University Extension says there are between one hundred fifty and two hundred kinds of chili peppers.
Want to fire up your meals with homegrown chilies? They need a warm climate. If you plant the seeds outside when the weather is cool, place the seeds under a glass. That will add warmth from the sun and protect them from wind. You can also start the seeds in your home or a greenhouse.
If you plant inside, fill a seven and one-half centimeter pot with soil. The pot should have holes in the bottom so water can run out. Tap the sides of the pot to settle the soil.
Drop several seeds over the surface of the pot and cover with a thin layer of vermiculite, a substance that can hold air, water and nutrients. Then cover the top of the pot with a see-through plastic bag. Hold the bag in place with a rubber band. Place the pot in a warm area.
When the chilies start growing, take off the bag. When the plants have reached about two centimeters high, place each one carefully in its own seven and one-half centimeter pot.
When the roots show through the holes in the bottom of the pot, transplant each seedling into a twelve centimeter pot. When the plants are twenty centimeters high, tie the plants to a stick placed in the pot to support them.
When the chili peppers are thirty centimeters high, pinch the tops off with your fingers. That should make new branches grow. When the first flowers show, give the plants some potash fertilizer. When the weather is warm, put them into five-liter pots and place them outside. Make sure they get a good amount of light and water.
Some people like to harvest the plants when the chilies are green. Others like their chilies red. Both give color, taste and differing amounts of heat to salads, soups, salsa and other foods.
And that's the VOA Special English Agriculture Report, written by Jerilyn Watson. You can find transcripts, MP3s and podcasts of our reports -- and write comments -- at voaspecialenglish.com. I'm Bob Doughty.