Five days in the in the airing cupboard and the chitting results are less than surprising. Chitting means that it is really obvious when they have germinated and Aji Limon, Big Bomb and Jalapeno are all growing little roots. Top of the class again. 10 x each have been transferred to modules of seed compost, ready to send up a shoot. They are being kept in a bright, warm area, and compulsively checked every ten minutes for signs of greenery.
Latest check: nothing green to report.
Meanwhile, back at the ranch (airing cupboard) the rest of the chilli seeds are yet to show signs of life. The remaining seeds have swollen a little, some are slightly translucent now but no rootin’ tootin’ going on.
We are hopeful for Scotch Bonnet and Bulgarian Carrot to germinate next, followed by Prairie Fire & Pretty Purple. These were the next batch to germinate in the compost and so the seed has at least shown itself to be viable. They were also 80%-100% successful. We have limited capacity for fully grown chilli plants so it is already looking like the school Summer Fete will be benefitting from some rather excitingly named (if a little leggy) chilli plants.
Fresno only gave us 4/10 seedlings germinated in the compost. No sign of roots on its chitting seeds yet. It is a mystery as to why the other seeds did not spring to life with the normal addition of warmth and water. Not all were dodgy imported Korean seeds you know! Cayenne and Serrano are hardly unknown in the UK climate. Perhaps inconsistent heat? Maybe half a day of drought when we forgot to water before going out? Maybe the snow scared the life out of them? Hard to know as the remaining Round One seeds are still sitting in their modules, not doing anything, and certainly not letting on as to why they didn’t germinate.
Quick check…still no sign of leaf growth from the germinated chitted seeds.
After somewhat disappointing results from our first attempts at chilli seed germination, the decision has been made to pay more attention to temperature and watering. South Devon Chilli Farm say that 27-32 degrees is optimum chilli germination range and so that is where we strive to be. They also state that surface watering and using warm water are ways to reduce the shock the seeds/seedlings might feel at this delicate stage in their lives. Heard and understood.
Finding a suitably warm (but not too hot) location is far trickier than one would think. On top of a radiator…too hot, 37 degrees or so. On the windowsill…too chilly, 22 degrees or there abouts. In the airing cupboard…too hot again when the heating is on. Back in the heated propagator? Not warm enough with the current weather conditions (snow and an Easterly wind that finds previously unknown gaps around the windows) What to do?
After copious temperature guaging with Old Faithful, the seeds are now, by day, chitting on a sunny, south facing windowsill, above a radiator, and in the bottom of the airing cupboard overnight. Let’s see where that gets us.
The seeds have been placed into clean, plastic takeaway boxes. The boxes are lined with damp capillary matting. Lids down, one corner slightly askew. No soil involved so we can really see what is going on.
In the previous planting of seeds Aji Limon was the first seed to poke its head above the surface of the soil. Closely followed by Jalapeno. Wonder who will show their face first this time?
Really hoping for some germination from Serrano, Long Hot Cayenne, Tobago Seasoning and Go Chu as there was 0% success last attempt
So, Round One of experimentation is done. The results are in. It turns out germinating chillies is not easy peesy lemon squeezy after all. A plug-in, non-temperature controllable, heated propagator is not a reliable enough piece of kit to germinate all types of chilli seed. Some loved it but some super sulked, like teenagers abed. In addition to an amateur range of equipment, snowy conditons outside (including daytime temperatures of -6) do not make for good windowsill conditions.
On the 18th February 2018, a mix of chilli seeds were planted into 1″ square root trainer modules. The compost of choice was John Innes Seed Compost with added perlite. Ten of each carefully selected chilli varieties were planted and placed, lovingly, into said heated bubble. Temperature unknown as Old Faithful, the Birdhouse thermometer, was nowhere to be found.
We waited with baited breath. Condensation appeared. It took an actual eternity for any shoot to show its tiny little self. Seedlings finally emerged on 23rd February. A frabjous day! Aji Limon were first up. Delicate green, slim leaves unfurled pretty quickly. Eight of them popped up within a couple of days. Next were the Jalapenos, Prairie Fire and Scotch Bonnet and Bulgarian Carrot (secretly they’re my favourite but don’t let on now). Fresno and Big Bomb made a later appearance. Fresno only sent three little darlings to the surface but Big Bomb’s module was littered with seedlings galore.
A mega no show from Go Chu (darn it, this is the variety we are hoping to grow most of) Long Slim Cayenne, Serrano or Tobago Seasoning. Must try harder says their report card.
After a brief foray into the Airing Cupboard (like Narnia, only less snow and more pillowcases) we move swifty on to experimentation Round Two. We will be carefully controlling temperature for seed chitting. All seed varieties will be resown using this method, in the interest of fair testing. Meanwhile, outside the snow has started to fall again. Perhaps this round of chilli germination will yet again be thwarted by plummeting external termperatures.