August 19, 2021

Chili Pepper plant

You wouldn't think Chili Peppers and horses belong in the same post. And on a horse blog. But I promise they do.

 In 2017 I bought a Chili Pepper plant at the nursery in a 4" pot.
We lived on Vancouver Island off the west coast of Canada.

I planted it outside in a stainless steel container around the same time I planted the tomatoes, which would have been in May. This was my first Pepper plant.

As it grew I added a tomato cage because it looked like it could use the support.
Eventually it was about 3' tall and quite bushy. Thinking back there must have been more than one in the little pot to fill out like it did.

The garden was watered daily by hand as it was all either in containers or raised beds and didn't hold the water. This was an advantage in the spring and fall as we could get a lot of rain there and the garden needed to drain.

Despite our fairly long growing season, come fall, the peppers were just beginning to ripen.

What else could I do with my Chili Peppers?

I put a garbage bag and then towels down in front of the sliding glass door in the kitchen. I brought it in the house and hoped they would continue to ripen.

And they did.

We enjoyed the show as they went from green to yellow to orange to red, with some in each stage so we had variety.

As they turned red I picked them and added them to a paper bag where I was drying them.
After a couple of months inside the peppers were pretty much done.
I finished harvesting and then we packed the container back outside and forgot about it.

We actually don't eat a lot of peppers, I mostly bought it because I liked the picture with all the different colors.

But we do cook with some and they had a nice medium heat and it didn't need much to warm up a dinner.

In 2020 we had just a few of those Chili Peppers left. I was starting a few lettuce and mustard seeds for our garden at the new place. I thought, I'll throw some of the Chili Pepper seeds in a pot and see what happens. I didn't know if they were a hybrid or not or if they'd germinate.

Everything else sprouted, grew and was moved out into our little greenhouse, awaiting the warmer days.
Not much happened with my pot of chili seeds. But I kept it moist anyways. Just in case.

Finally it happened.

A few sprouted, then a few more.

Pretty soon there were about a dozen baby Chili plants. I moved the little pot out to the greenhouse to take advantage of the better light.

They continued to grow and I moved them to a bigger container. About 30 cm (12") square.

As the hot summer went on we removed the cover of the greenhouse as it was just too hot. These plants didn't get as tall as the original ones. They also seemed a little weak.
The pot would not support a tomato cage well, so I tied a string around the bundle of plants for support from each other.

The nights were cold, by pepper and tomato standards. Often dipping to 10c (50f).
The pepper crop was much smaller than the first year. A few got to full size, about 5-6cm (2-2.5"), almost a ladies baby finger sized, but many were much shorter. Only about 2.5cm (1") but still edible.

They also did not seem as hot, and I had read that's related to the temperatures they grow in.

As in the first year I grew them, the season ended before they were ready.
I brought them into my much smaller house, and tried to give them as much light as I could.

I picked off the peppers as soon as they were red to give the others a fighting chance.

We got more than enough to get us through the winter, but not enough for another year.

The plant though, did not seem unhappy.

I looked it up and in their native habitat they are perennial. Chili peppers live more than one season.

Who knew?

So I did my best to baby it through the winter season and not kill it.

With our small house and pellet stove it could be as hot as 25-30 c (80-90 f) in the day time. Any more than that and we'd have to open the door for awhile.

Not wanting to be that hot at night we often let it go out and the house would cool to 10c (50f) before I woke up and re-lit it. Not unlike the summer temperatures outside.

The difference being that there was a lot less light and we had a month of 30+ below zero celcius (-22f) so some nights did get colder in the house.

But it survived the winter.

When it was time to go outside I cut it down to about 15cm (6") to remove the lanky stems and start with some new growth.

I chose to occasionally feed it a tomato fertilizer as I wanted to encourage flowering and not a lot of excess plant growth.

We added a drip water system. It plugs up with the minerals so I still have to check it but it's more consistent than watering once a day. And that would not have been enough with the size of the container for that much plant and the temperatures we had this summer . One stretch reaching 45c (113f).

The results were nothing short of spectacular.

The picture at the top of the page is this chili plant. The chilis are hotter because the weather was hot.

It just keeps producing, and I see there's flowers again now.

The majority of the plant is only 30cm (12") above the pot.
One branch, the one that was already 15cm (6") and didn't get pruned is 37.5cm (15") tall.

What can Chili peppers teach us about horses?

  • Sometimes they need more support to be able to do their job.
  • The environment can affect how hot they are.
  • They may need daily tending and special feed for performance.
  • Consistency gets better results.
  • Sometimes the season is not long enough for them to produce the desired results and you have to go above and beyond to help them.
  • Time off is not a bad thing as long as their needs are met.
  • They're ready when they're ready. But we can do things to help them.

What Chili Peppers need to fulfill their destiny may be new to me, but horses and what they need is not. 

Consider checking out my online courses, webinars and blog if you're looking for ways to help your horse fulfill their destiny. Let me know if you have any questions or want to chat about how I can help.

You CAN learn how to improve your horse's skills from online courses and tips such as these.
But only if you implement.

So when you read my articles write down the steps or thoughts that come to mind as a reminder for what you're going to try in your next ride.
Come on back when you're done and let me know how it went.

Before you go to the next article,
I'd love to read your comments and answer your questions below.

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About the author 

Trish Hyatt

International Coach and Clinician
National and International Top 10 Competitor
Technical Delegate and Judge of Working Equitation (retired)

Trish's superpower is the ability to give you and your horse what you need, in a way that you understand, so each horse and rider makes progress and knows what they need to work on.

She puts her many skills to use introducing the international discipline of Working Equitation to riders eager to improve their partnership with their horse, with a focus on fun, classical horsemanship and use of the horse for practical work or as cross-training for other disciplines.

  • As someone who grows peppers (capsicum and chilli) all year round, I love this post. Here in NZ, it is the last fortnight of winter and mine are still ripe for picking. I usually only keep them a couple of years in a pot as they don't produce as well in the third year.
    I love your philosophy! Your comparison to horses at the end is spot on.

    • Thanks Paulina, I enjoyed writing it. Good to know that they don’t produce as well in the third year.
      And thanks for the kind words at the end.

  • What a great way to look at our horses . I environment & temperature affects the horse. Time off is good for both horse and rider. Love your articles. They always hit home for me!

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    Lateral Flexion: You Can't Get Bend Without It!

    Tips for Working Equitation Course Design (and Riding)