The Chiltepin


Year after year I have put chiltepin seeds, also known as chile tepin or chile pequin, in peat pellets, professional growing medium, dirt, etc. with no results; or if you prefer, with the result that at the end, all I had were empty peat pellets, empty pots of professional growing medium, empty pots of dirt, etc.
This year, I tried it once again and pow! one seed sprouted. I cannot tell you how elated I was. I actually did a little jig the morning I came down to inspect my peat pellets and found this little gem. I have nurtured it since and this is what it looks like today, February 21, 2oo9 (see picture above).
The chiltepin pepper and I have history. We go back all the way to my childhood in the Sonoran desert, where peddlers would come to our street selling wild chiltepins that they had harvested in the Sierra Madre mountains.
The little round peppers can be eaten fresh but we always used them dry and are so hot that we used bits of grocery paper sacks to protect our fingers when we crushed them into soups and stews. Just one was enough to provide any dish with considerable kick.
Experts say that the chiltepin is the precursor of ALL peppers. It is a wild plant and so they tell me, it takes a year or two to fruit, but I have read somewhere that people get fruit out of it the first year. A well-tended chiltepin plant can live for a long time -20 or 30 years! although the oldest plant I have seen was reported to be 5 years old.
It is because of the reported longevity of the plant I intend to plant my baby into a large, regular pot and not into one of my home made self-watering containers, which have to be emptied and cleaned at the end of each growing season. Here in Kansas, I will have to bring it inside during the coldest months of the year.

I am hoping that tomorrow is nice enough for me to put plants into the remaining 4 self-watering buckets that I’ve made.

By now, I usually have all the seeds I am going to buy for the growing season but today I bought some seeds for stuff I hadn’t decided yet if I wanted to grow or not, so I will be sowing stuff tomorrow as well.

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4 Responses to “The Chiltepin”

  1. Paul Bradley Says:

    How’s the plant doing?

    • yaquigrande Says:

      Gosh! I haven’t been to my garden blog in so long!

      If you’re still interested, the plant lived for two years and then died during a killer heat wave while I was on vacation. It produced peppers consistently. I intend on growing another one and this time take care of it!

  2. Nebojsa Says:

    I planted tepin and fatali. Both did not germinate and after a month, I put the pots away. Two weeks later, I saw little plant. It looks the same as your pepper, so I concluded that it is tepin. However, it seems that it is not growing. It’s kind of stuck on 3.5 cm. It won’t grow. It’s that big for almost a month. Is that normal?

    • pulltabMiner Says:

      Nebojsa, mine took a looooooong time to grow as well. But once it began to grow, it grew quite large. You can bring it inside if you live in a cold climate and it will live through the winter inside. They can grow quite big and they can live for years and years. Have patience and it will reward you with hundreds if not thousands of delicious tiny round peppers.


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