Ever wanted to grow your own chillies but thought the task is too much for you? Don’t
worry! We’ve got you covered
If you have a bit of a green thumb and a pallet that favours hotter foods, growing chillies might be for you.
Despite popular belief you can easily germinate chilli seeds and grow a chilli plant at home, and it isn’t that difficult to do. Here we’re going to give you a brief guide to growing your very own chillies. You’ll be able to spice up your life in no time.
Most people choose to immediately plant their chilli seeds into their compost. And whilst this is fine, there are a couple of things you can do before hand to help.
One such way is to soak your chilli seeds in warm water over night.
Alternatively you could place your seeds in-between two pieces of damp kitchen roll and then into a sealed container. Place this container somewhere warm and at a constant temperature. This should help speed up the germination process.
Planting the seeds
The compost you use doesn’t have to be anything special – multipurpose will do the trick just fine, seed compost is better especially if you sow a lot of seeds. Try and evenly space the seeds and check them once a day. Remember, you’re trying to keep the soil from getting dry.
The key to a solid growth is to keep the temperature constant. I recommend germinating the seeds in a heated propagator and for the hot chillies a thermostatically controlled propagator.
How long will they take to germinate? Well, that depends on the plant, milder chillies are easier to germinate, hot chillies require more heat and time to germinate, it also depends on the area they’re germinated in, temperature, moisture and light, get it wrong and germination can be slow and % germinate can be low. Aim for around 2-4 weeks for germination.
Once your chillies have to started to sprout they’re going to need light. Hopefully, on your windowsill they’ll get all the light they need. If however you don’t live in a particularly sunny area, you can purchase grow lights.
These offer the plants artificial lighting but beware! If the light is too hot it could end up damaging or even killing the seeds.
As your chilli plants start to grow you may have to consider re-potting them. When removing the plants be careful not to damage any roots or seeds. Take your time. One damaged root could see the end of your beloved chilli!
Re-potting can be quite a tricky thing to do. If you put the plant in something too big, it’ll focus on growing the roots, rather than the stem. Try and re-pot when you’re seeing roots appear at the drainage holes in the bottom.
When is it ready?
When you start to see flowers appear on your plant it’s almost time for the chillies. The flowers will need pollinating. If you haven’t move the plants outside at any point, then don’t worry. You can pollinate them yourself in the greenhouse or indoors. Take a cotton bud and rub around inside each flower head. This will loosen the pollen the way a bee would.
You will eventually see the flowers drop off. Don’t panic, this just means your chillies are on the way.
Things to remember –
- It’s best to plant your seeds early in the year around January or February
- It is best to germinate chilli seeds in a heated propagator and grow them on in a greenhouse
- Chillies are usually grown as annuals in the UK. However, they are classified as ‘tender perennials’ meaning that you may be able to get a few seasons out of one plant
- As your chillies start to sprout you may want to move them outside if you don’t have a greenhouse. If you do want to do this, ease them in. Take them out for a few hours a day so that they can ‘harden up’ to the elements
- Don’t put them outside when it’s still frosty! This will quickly put an end to your chillies.
- As with any plant, the early stage of growth leaves them open to disease
Good luck and enjoy your chillies!
Up to 200 varieties of chilli to grow from seed http://www.nickys-nursery.co.uk/garden-shop/seeds/chilli-seeds-a-to-z/