Growing Chillies & Peppers from Seed
WHAT YOU NEED
(a) A propagator with a transparent plastic top (normal or electric – the latter will ensure temperatures are maintained constant at all times but is more expensive). You can find the normal ones in garden centres and DIY stores.
(b) Some planting compost (a specific one for seeds is better as it will allow for better drainage).
(c) The seeds!
GROWING FROM SEED
Moisten the compost with a little water. Make sure the compost is never too wet. Fill the propagator seed tray with soil and plant the seeds below the surface (around 0.5 cm). Make sure the soil is loose above the seeds or cover with some vermiculite.
Place the propagator somewhere warm (above the fridge is a good place). The time it takes for the seeds to germinate depends on many factors but is mainly influenced by temperature. Keep the seeds warm (ideally 25 Degrees Centigrade). If they fall beneath 15 Degrees they will not germinate and if the temperature of the soil goes over 30 Degrees the seeds may literally 'cook' in the soil and not germinate either. It may sound a little extreme but a good propagator can add 15 degrees to the ambient temperature so, if you have a really hot windowsill one day, you'll end up killing the seeds.
Check the soil conditions once a day. Remove the propagator from the windowsill if it gets verycold at night and replace the next morning. Resist fiddling with the soil before germination!
Ensure the soil is moist (i.e. never too wet or dry).Once the seeds have germinated, keep an eye on the soil moisture (as above) and wait for the second set of leaves to appear and form. Once this has happened, transplant carefully into 7cm pots filled with compost and place on a sunny windowsill or in the greenhouse. Keep watered (once a day, if required) and feed with a good plant feed (CHILLI FOCUS is the best!) once or twice a week.
When the plant starts flowering, feed once a week. If transferring outside, remember to harden-off the plants slowly (a couple of hours a day, at first and gradually increasing over two weeks. Always harden off after the last frost of the spring.
Normally, the fruits will change in colour (depending on the type) as they mature. If you’re picking them early the plant will normally continue to produce fruit.
Want to keep the plant going over the winter? Keep it indoors (warm windowsill) and take out for the next season (after the last frost).
LOOKING AFTER ONE OF OUR PLANTS
Our chilli plants are normally sold at (or just before) flowering so use the instructions above from the transplanting into 7cms pots stage.You’ll find the terracotta pots will help you know when to water! When you water, the soil will take up moisture and so will the terracotta. As the plant uses all the water in the soil, it will start taking it from the pot walls which acts as a water reserve. As a test, tap the side of the terracotta pot. If it creates a dull sound, there is still water in the pot but if it sounds louder and creates an echo it’s a sign you need to water!
Pick ripe chillies regularly as this encourages the plant to set more fruit.
Above all, enjoy!