Chilli-tastic – March

Since I started off my chilli growing season last month it’s been relatively quiet but rather interesting.

Of the 49 seeds sown in last month’s post only 14 seeds germinated, then I lost 2 more to wilting which left me with just 12 plants.  Having sown the seeds correctly (as far as I believe), and kept them to temperature I’m beginning to think that of all the seeds I ever sow, chillies have the lowest germination rates.

The second batch of 49 seeds sown have produced a slightly higher germination rate (currently 24 have germinated).  Although I used compost on this set to sow with.


The second set consisted of 7 varieties each with 7 seeds sown:

  • Aji Crystal
  • Trinity
  • Mushroom Yellow
  • McMahons Texas Bird
  • Naga Jolokia
  • 7 Pot Yellow
  • Paper Lantern

Of the 24 that germinated I ended up potting 16 of the stronger plants.

Unfortunately none of the new seed chillies (McMahons and Mushroom) germinated.

Having done some further research on growing methods I’ve made growing matters more complicated by putting chinense seeds with annums.  The difference in germination lengths and heat requirements isn’t helping me get better germination rates.

See, I’ve learnt even more new things about chillies without even realising!  It’s good stuff.


So, now I shall be doing my third batch of chilli seeds mindful of my latest experience.

  • First off I shall be needing a thermometer, preferably a soil thermometer to check the actual temperature that the propagator is able to give.  If it’s anything less than 28-30 C required for chinese varieties then I’m going to have to get rather creative and start insulating the base of the propagator to help increase soil temperatures as spending out on a more expensive propagator is out of the question at the moment, especially as this one does work (for some seeds).
  • Secondly I need to grow the same varieties at the same time.
  • Thirdly I need to do this quickly because I’m wasting vital and expensive seed not having paid attention to growing techniques.

I think I’ve said this in he past but by holding off any sowings until end of Feb/beginning of March does make a huge difference to germination rates, for me, just because the room temperatures are simply more stable as longer length of daylight add to the overall mechanisms by which germination can take place.

I say it every year and yet there I am sowing at the beginning of Feb because I’m too impatient!  So either I buy the necessary equipment that allows germination to take place in January (not really an option because looking at the equipment it would cost a small fortune), or I wait!

It probably sounds like I’m telling myself off and indeed I am – knowledge is key when it comes to chillies and I’m not adhering to it so I’m loosing potential plants and time at this rate.

Anyway, the good news is, the thermometer came earlier this week and just yesterday I got sowing my third and final set of chilli seeds.  Wish me luck 🙂

What varieties are you growing this year?  Are you more into the hot 10 or the heirloom varieties?


8 responses to “Chilli-tastic – March

  1. Peppers are my most stubborn germinators as well. I’m not sure what your propagator does, but if you need more heat after using your thermometer, I put my seed tray on a heating pad. (One for sore backs and such, not a plant-specific one.)

    I still have dried cayenne from two seasons ago, and am going simpler this year on varietiess with the pregnancy, so just jalapenos, bells, and poblanos for me.

    • Big congrats on the pregnancy!
      What a great idea regarding the heat mat! I never thought of that but yes it would certainly help. I got my themometer and it’s ready about 22-26 degrees C. So hopefully that will be enough. I hope so anyway because I’ve just sown the last remaining seeds I’ve bought this yr.
      Simple is definitely the way to go. Will look forward to reading how yours grow 🙂

  2. We’re also finding it a bit more complicated sowing so many different varieties and are on to our second sowing of some. If that doesn’t succeed then I think we will supplement with some plants from Victoriana.

    Re hot versus not. I don’t mind as long as I can reasonably use it to cook with.

    • I’d never given multi-species sowing a thought but it’s bound to cause issues, if I have to take the propagator lid off once some have germinated (so they don’t wilt), but then it’s too cold for those that have yet to germinate. Makes sense now. I think it will make me choose my varieties more closely next yr.
      I am the same re. heat strength – like everything from down right mild to blowing your head off hot! 🙂

  3. Dear Sophie,

    Seeds can be a nuisance sometimes. And like so many other things in life it is either feast or famine. Chillies, as Im sure you know do need heat and lots of it. Perhaps put an extra cover on them to give them a double protection. I do this in a cold grow-house and so far they seem to be coming up quite well. (I germinated them on the lounge windowsill in min 15 degrees by the room thermostat)
    Lots of salads coming up, but my lambs lettuce failed. I suspect its too warm on the window sill. Osteospermum and sweet peas now kicking their heels waiting to be transplanted! Lanky tall peas went out into the garden yesterday under straw and a thermal cover.
    PS I’m not growing in pans this year, but putting each separate seed type inside mini greenhosues made from 4litre mineral water bottles. That way they can each have different attention.

    • Hi Wendy, thanks for getting in touch. I think the double protection thing is well worth doing, however hearing you’ve done that in a cold grow house – is that inside or outside? You must be doing something right then 🙂 Could I ask what varieties you’re growing, as I am wondering what, if any, group they’d all fit into?
      Sounds like your rooftop is going to be very busy again this yr. I shall look forward to reading how you get on. Thanks for stopping by. 🙂

      • I start chillies and peppers off inside the house. I don’t think they would germinate in the growhouse. Then I take them outside and put them into the growhouse with secondary covers underneath. (Something like a bottomless mineral water bottle would do.).
        My growhouse is in a very sheltered spot and does get loads of sun. I can’t overwinter them this way though. They all die after cropping. Last year I grew Mr Fothwrgills Hot Chilli Shake (nice fat red chillies, but not too spicy). This year I’m trying the same trick with peppers. Hot Cayenne and Torpepo Rosso. These were sown on 19th Jan and put into the growhouse on about 15th March. Mb. P

      • Thank you for sharing that knowledge on your growing. Like you, I can’t seem to over winter either although I quite fancy trying a candle heater to see if that’ll make a difference (when I get my greenhouse).
        Snap with the Cayenne’s 🙂

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