These tips were shared by Uma Shashikant madam, a enthusiastic and successful terrace Gardner.
Chillies without Curls
My experiments with chillies and capsicums in Mumbai were tiresome as the leaf curl got to the plant, how much ever I tried. After several rounds of trial, I thought I had hit upon the formula, but had to move after just one successful crop on the balcony. Here at Atlanta, the same tricks worked again, and here are the notes:
1. Only the best seeds will do. Curl can be caused by viral and other infections. When it comes to chillies, do not take a chance with seeds; buy from known sources only.
2. Fuss about the soil. All the nutrition and composition should be in the soil, before transplanting. Prepare the pot to nurture the plant well. Add well-aged compost and manure, egg shell powder and bone meal right at the start. Top with aged compost or vermicompost, when flowering begins.
3. Water carefully. The soil has to drain completely, and also hold moisture well. Before growing chillies, master the art of watering right. Chilly is up there in the list of plants that will fail and curl with overwatering.
4. Season matters. Chillies do not like cool and long nights. They grow best in the sun and need a good 6-8 hours of bright and nice sunlight. They don’t flower or fruit when nights get longer or cooler. I still do not know what I will do when winter hits my garden here.
5. Do not overdo the nitrogen. If you feed the plant too much of fresh compost, manure, oil cakes and such, you will get sucking pests like aphids and will settle for curls, not chillies. The plant needs NO nitrogen top up, unless the leaves go pale. It needs the many micro-nutrients, instead.
What if you still have the leaf curls? Trim the plant completely. Allow medium to dry, almost. Add aged compost to which egg shell powder, wood ash, and epsom salt have been added. Drench thoroughly with compost tea. Place in full sun and ensure good air circulation to the bottom of the plant.
My leaf-curl-free crop of 11 varieties is finally thriving (both on the ground and in grow bags.