Chillies in 140 Characters

Chilli Seeds I grew in 2012

Still snowy outside, still very cold.  I guess this is what they mean by winter?  We’ve had it quite mild the last few yrs, post Christmas. I think this year has been quite a wake up call.

Just a quick update from last weeks’s post – my sweet peas have survived which I am chuffed about.  Once I had brought them inside they began germinating three days later.  Out of the original 90 I had sown, 62 (69%) have popped up.  So it would seem sweet peas are a lot hardier than I took them for.  Its been quite interesting watching them because when I brought them in from the cold, the pots were literally frozen solid.  In the past I wouldn’t have thought to sow any flowers until at least March but talking to someone, one day, on Twitter I discovered winter was just the right time to be sowing so thought I’d give it a go.

Taking of Twitter, I have been having some very useful conversations about chillies with people on there.

I am a huge fan of Twitter.  Being a classic introvert it allows me to converse with people much easier and more confidently without having to meet them or do the whole chit chat business first.  Only having 140 characters means whatever I have to say, or the person who tweets me, has to be precise.  It’s a fantastic communication tool. I can get down to talking about the serious stuff I like chatting about; flowers, food, exercise, weather, blogging, lego and chillies, with people who also like those things too.

There is a growing community of chilli growers, from all over the world on Twitter.  If I post a question, someone (or more), usually gets back to me and helps me out.  Its great.

This week I’ve been contemplating sowing chilli seeds.  It’s not obligatory after all it’s only January.  At least that is what I have to keep reminding myself because I always get like this in January.  I get an urgent need to sow something, to see plants growing, anything just to do some gardening.

So I wondered if it was possible to sow any chilli varieties now, without a heated propagator.  Although I’ve grown lots of chilli plants in the past, the growing season usually starts in March for me.  The answer that came back from Twitter was a resounding no.  So I’ve been looking at various propagators (with the help of chilli growing fellows), to see what’s the best one.

I’ve got a problem with buying one though.  To me it seems so extravagant to have one.  Most seeds just germinate on their own if I just leave it a few more weeks.  What is the point of one?

Well if I want to chillies now, I keep telling myself, it would be a waste of seeds, potting material and time.  If I sow with a propagator at this point in time it means I get my growing season off to an earlier start.

However still the nagging doubt kept coming back – isn’t this a waste of electricity?

As an energy conscious person I was seriously worried that the materials of the propagator and the electricity being used would be unnecessary and bump already expensive electric usage up even more.  More plastic, more energy.

So I looked into alternatives;

  • Plate warmers – too expensive
  • Candle plate warmers – I’d have to keep getting up in the night to replace candle
  • Snake/beer heat pads – as expensive as a propagator (I had no idea you could buy so many different types of heat pads!)
  • Airing cupboard – no airing cupboard but potentially the top of the boiler might be an alternative.  Limited space though.
  • Home made propagators – involving a light bulb and some metal trays on bricks.  This actually sounded viable until more research indicated that the light bulb would probably use more electric than the 8w propagator I’ve been looking at.  Plus if I can’t source the materials very easily it could end up as expensive as just buying the propagator.
  • Solar powered propagator – apparently no one has invented this yet.  Why not?

Eventually though it comes back to just buying the propagator.  It will cost less than £6 to run (someone has done their calculations), if I had it on 24/7 between now and May (which I wouldn’t).  The sooner I get the chillies growing the longer the season the plants will have to fruit which in turn means more chillies for eating, preserving and maybe even selling.   So that is what I intend to do very shortly.  Well, either that or move to warmer climes such as Mexico.

A big thanks to OJ Chillies, Joy Michaud, Shep, Grant Davidson and Bountiful seeds for all your chilli help.


3 responses to “Chillies in 140 Characters

    • Thanks Linda, that’s very kind of you but I think I’ve managed to get the zip working again now. Fortunately I bought a spare cover when I bought this grow house. I must have known!

  1. Hello Sophie, not easy to grow any plant when there is snow without a greenhouse.
    I see that you like twitter.. I don’t like it at all but perhaps it is good for your job.
    Hope to see you through via our blogs.

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