Growing Chillis Part 2: Germination
Germination is the first stage of growing chillis (unless you cheat and buy seedlings or grown plants). it basically involves activating the seed and prompting it to sprout.
There are many different ways of germinating seeds I’m going to cover just 2.
Many people as when they should sow their seeds, again its totally up to you and your location, I tend to start mine at the end of January or the beginning of February, this way i end up with lots chills all the way up to the end of October.
One thing to remember is that some seeds take longer to germinate than others and unfortunately some fail to germinate.
Method 1: In a propagator or windowsill greenhouse
There are lots of types of propagator, ranging from cheap unheated ones, to mid range heated ones all the way up to thermostat controlled ones. They all do the same job in more or less the same way, by keeping the chilli seeds at a constant ambient temperature.
I tend to use a cheap heated propagator, more info on it can be found here
Once you have your propagator, seeds and some compost its as simple as 1,2,3….
- Fill propagator with compost, water it.
- Place 1 seed in each section a few mm under the surface and label each row.
- Place the cover on the propagator, place in a light place and turn on (if using a heated one)
Then all you have to do is wait, make sure you keep the soil fairly moist but not too damp, once you have a seedling that is a few cm tall you are ready for part 3 of the Chilli Up North growing guide.
Method 2: On damp kitchen paper
This method is also quite handy especially if you don’t have a propagator.
- Firstly dampen some kitchen paper, then put your seeds on the paper and fold it up into a little parcel.
- Place in a plastic zip lock back and place in a warm place…the airing cupboard is idea.
- Check on a regular basis to make sure that the kitchen towel doesn’t dry out and to see if they have germinated.
- Once your seeds have sprouted, they need to be carefully transferred to some soil, i tend to use cheap plastic drinks cups, filled with compost.
- Place the new containers in a warm light place. You can also cover the tops of them with bags to form a mini greenhouse.
You are then ready for part 3 of the Chilli Up North Growing Guide.
Germinating Tips and Tricks:
I can’t promise 100% success with germination but the following tips should help improve your chances.
- Don’t sow your seeds too deep, The seed will use all of its energy and die before it breaks the surface of the soil
- Don’t over water, seeds can soon rot if they are too wet, if using a propagator its worth wiping condensation off the lid once in a while.
- Do use fresh compost, old compost is likely to contain bugs or have lost its nutrients.
- If you find your seedlings leaning in one direction either rotate them or place foil behind them to reflect the light.
- Soak your seeds for a few minutes before sowing to help soften the seed. Not too long though you don’t want to rot them
Some people (and companies) try to speed up the germination process or increase the chances of a successful germination by using chemicals or peeling off the outer seed casing. I’ve never really experimented with either method as i think half the fun is the anticipation of when and how many seeds will germinate. Although i do sometimes soak my seeds in water for a few mins before sowing.