Agriculture Reference
In-Depth Information
From seed
Peppers require a fairly long growing season to get from seeds to ripened fruit, in
addition to requiring plenty of heat and sunshine. Therefore you should aim to have your
seeds planted as early as possible to get enough growth so that you can be picking the ripe
peppers before the temperatures start to cool in late summer and nights start to lengthen. If
you live in a long-season area it is possible to plant your seeds directly into the garden out-
doors; however for most people getting started involves planting and growing indoors for
a short period of time before transplanting outdoors, when the risk of frost has passed and
nighttime temperatures are consistently above 50 o F/10 o C. Peppers are susceptible to frost,
therefore it is important to time your seeding correctly. You should aim to plant your seeds
7-9 weeks before the last frost of the season. If you are transplanting into a greenhouse or
heated greenhouse, you can aim on planting your seeds a little earlier.
To plant your seeds, fill a seed tray or flat, with good quality seed compost. Al-
ternatively a small 3 inch (7.5cm) pot can be used. A peat-based compost works well for
peppers. If you are growing a number of different varieties, take the time to label the pots
and trays at this stage to avoid any confusion later on. Make a little hole with your finger
or a match stick a few mm deep and plant your seed, before covering with some soil. Plant
your seeds at least 2 inches apart. I tend to plant extra seeds, as this allows you to select
the best seedlings (or to weed out the weakest growers) and gives you the best chance of
having a great pepper harvest. For your seeds to germinate the seeds require a warm soil
temperature (light isn't important until germination has occurred). To promote germina-
tion, have the soil temperature at approximately 80 o F/26 o C, if the soil temperature is be-
low 55 o F/12 o C, the seeds will not germinate. This soil temperature can be achieved by pla-
cing your seed tray or pots in a warm place e.g. south-facing windowsill or conservatory.
Be careful however not to put in a location which may cool down dramatically during the
night. An excellent way of regulating soil temperature is to use a heating mat, onto which
your seed tray or pots are placed. It is important to check on your seeds daily to check for
the first emergence. I would recommend watering the soil by using a household sprayer to
mist the soil. You don't want the soil to dry out, but also not to over-water, as excessive wa-
ter can lead to waterlogging and may prevent germination. Depending on the variety you
should see signs of germination after 1-2 weeks, though for some hotter varieties e.g. some
habaneros, this may take up to 4 weeks.
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