(Title in Bahasa Indonesia: Berkebun: “Bunga Gugur” dan “Kurangnya Penyerbukan” dari Tanaman Cabai)
Last August I moved to a slightly bigger flat which has a super tiny balcony. The balcony is literally only one meter square, and the top part (right side) was quickly filled-up after installation of 2 Air Conditioning (AC) outdoor. However the bottom part is still available, so I can use it to do my other interest: gardening.
I bought a lot of small containers for planting, but my priority is to plant something that I can eat, because I love cooking too. I think it must be cool to eat something that I grow by myself. And my bigger ambition is to have a continuous supply of food without a worry that it will be rotten in my fridge, because it was happen to me all the time! I bought vegetables or spices in standard package in supermarket and they are rotten quicker than my consumption speed. Because let’s face it, between my works, Italian course, going-out and other personal projects, it is quite difficult for me to find time to cook.
So, when I decided to start my balcony garden, chili is number one in my list for one simple reason: I like spicy food and I use it in almost my entire dish. I used the seeds from chili I bought from supermarket and planted them in the container. I planted 3 varieties of chili and I was very happy because they grew quickly and in about 2 months they started flowering, a lot of flowers! I quickly imagined that soon I will cross chili from my shopping list.
But the reality was not that beautiful. Soon after the flowers were blossom, they started to drop to the ground (picture below). All of them, none turned into chili fruit. As I have no gardening experience, I tried to find-out what was happening to my chili plants. Then I found out that the phenomenon called “blossom drop” and it can be caused by several factor.
The first article that I found mentioned it caused by deficiency of kalium, so I started to dose the plant with fertilizer, but nothing change after a week. Another article mentioned about unbalance composition of the planting media, it said that too much compost caused the “blossom drop”. Then I re-pot the plants at bigger container with more dirt and less compost. They were alive, getting bigger and continue flowering, but still no chili fruit!!.
I was almost frustrated, when I found other article which mentioned about “lack of pollination”. Basically the article said that chili is supposed to “self-pollinate” but because of lack of wind or small bugs to help the pollination, it did not happen and the un-pollinated flowers will die. The article also mentioned that it is very common to happen in balcony plants because they are protected from wind and non-existence of small bugs, especially in balconies of high rise building. I suddenly thought that this article is the most make sense of all, because it was similar to my situation. So I continued to read up to solution section in the article. There it said that to overcome this problem we should help the pollination process, either by shaking the plant or pinching the flower several times a day. And I was like – WHAT?! Who has time to do that?!! It will be easier for me to just forget it about growing my own chili than spending time to shake it several times a day!!
So, I did a little bit improvisation, I raised the plant containers and tied them in my balcony fence using super strong wire to secure them from falling down. In this new position, they should be more exposed to wind. And I expected the wind to do all the shaking for me, because that’s what it does!!
And.. Ta-daaa.. 2 weeks later, the “blossom drop” stopped and the chili fruit started to appear. I could not express how happy I was when I saw those chilis that soon I will eat!!