29 July, 2013
This is the VOA Special English Agriculture Report.
Some people say eating hot chili peppers can help you breathe easier if you have a cold. Others believe that chilies give you more energy. All we know is that people have been growing chilies for centuries. And there are plenty of different kinds of chili peppers to choose from, along with different levels of heat.
Want to spice up your meals with homegrown chilies? They need a warm climate. If you plant the seeds outside when the weather is cool, place a glass over them. 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 chili peppers inside, fill an eight-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. Vermiculite is a material 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 eight-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 get new branches to 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 mild chilies, others like plenty of heat. Some like to harvest the plants when the chilies are green. Others like their chilies red. Either way can give color and taste to many different foods.
And that's the VOA Special English Agriculture Report, written by Jerilyn Watson. You can find more gardening advice and share your own stories from the garden at 51voa.com. You can download transcripts and MP3s of all of our programs. You can also find captioned videos of Special English reports at the VOA Learning English channel on YouTube. I'm Steve Ember.