THE WHOLE REASON FOR ALL THAT TIME AND EFFORT
My picture above of last years’ crop of chilis is what you will hopefully be looking at 6 to 9 months after sowing your chilli seeds mid to late February.
They require a long growing season so you need to start them as early as possible. The most important things you need to start seeds early in the year are without doubt heat and light. If you can’t provide this or you intend to grow less than a dozen chilies or would like to try a few different varieties without the expense for packet of seeds for just one plant, then I would strongly recommend that you buy them as plants from a specialist supplier.
Chilli plants can now be bought from a variety of suppliers, some specializing in the frighteningly hot ones which I think are grown more because of their reputation than their day to day uses as they could quite easily put you in hospital.
In my experience Simpsons Seeds and Seeds of Italy have an extensive range of plants available and they will arrive with you at exactly the right time for potting on into three inch pots
On the other hand it’s very exciting to grow chillis from seed. They require more heat than the average vegetable so a good propagator is essential and you need to keep the heat at a minimum of 25° probably better at 28 to 30. T Ideally a digital progagator is best. Chillis can take up to a month to germinate which is why we need to start them in January or February.
I start all my chilies as individual seeds in Jiffy 7s and go to the effort of placing the seeds on their sides vertically as I have found this dramatically increases germination. I insert them only about 3 mm into the Jiffy 7 and then cover with the finest vermiculite as this allows the seed air and moisture without water logging.
Once germinated it’s vitally important that they receive enough light and a greenhouse is essential. If you are trying to grow them inside a grow light is really necessary, please read post on grow lights – windowsills in all honesty rarely have enough light for germination.
The chilies grow quite slowly, will be quite happy in their Jiffy 7 for about 4 to 6 weeks when I pot them on into the first 3 inch pots. By keeping them in Jiffy 7’s this long we maximize our growing space in the greenhouse at a time when space is at a premium. When they are potted on I like to use a mixture of 50% multipurpose compost and 50% soil based compost as I have found over the years this gives me the best results, with a small amount of Pearlite mixed in.
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