I started growing my own chilies a few years ago. I like having my own small-scale jungle on the balcony. Tending to those plants is very satisfying, and being able to eat my harvest doesn’t hurt either. So here are a few things that I’ve noticed so far. NOTE! I am far from a professional. I am working with the tools that are most accessible for me and nothing about my operation is optimal. But having my own greenhouse somewhere is not an option for me and I like having a life that is not all about needing to go to the vegetable garden for hours at a time.

Plant a lot of chilies

I use these moss pellets to grow my seeds to where the first of their permanent leaves open up. I put in three seeds per moss pellet and usually at least two pellets per varietal. Usually I wind up with about a dozen or couple dozen pellets. Of those, maybe half a dozen survive to bear fruit. Even fewer survive the winter to go on to bear more fruit the next year.

It is absolutely more work than just going into the grocery store and picking up some chilies. But honestly, the work is its own reward.

Use what’s available

I buy my dirt from the grocery store, along with most of my pots. The biggest ones come from the hardware store. Helsinki has garden spaces that you can rent indefinitely. The closest ones are a bike ride away. But the trouble is, I know myself. It’s easy for me to take a break between builds during day job or tasks during creative work to just quickly water my plants and take any dead leaves away and all that good stuff. If I were to get myself a garden space, I would maybe make it there once a week, if that. This would probably leave my chilies dead. But if I did have that space, I could probably get in a more perfect mixture of soil.

But the thing is, by using soil and pots from the grocery store, I’m actually growing my plants and making some progress. If I tried to be perfect, according to a set of guidelines set by someone else, I wouldn’t make any progress. I wouldn’t have the joy of a jungle on my balcony in the summer. And I wouldn’t be able to eat my own produce. By not trying to be perfect, I’m getting the things done that I want to get done.

Am I talking about plants or my writing?