An update, with added advice to self for next year:
The sprouted seedlings have been transferred to their paper pots, 135 of them so far. Thank goodness for grandparents and all their newspapers. The seed soil was cold and waterlogged (it is January after all) The pots were filled and warmed gently on the radiator.
Paper pots are quick to make and take less paper than you would think. Hopefully the pots will be soft enough for the first roots to break through meaning there will be no need to disturb the seedlings when potting on the next time.
Chilli seeds in their forever pots
Do not let the moisture in the chitting pods evaporate completely or the roots shrivel and dry. This has happened to Habanero Primavero Red. Hopefully some of the remaining seeds will germinate as we have no more in the packet. Not buying any more.
Also, don’t leave the sprouted seedlings too long in the chitting pods as their roots become intertwined with the capillary matting. Some of the roots have snapped in the transferring process. Not sure whether they will survive or not but they will sulk for at least a week, no doubt. Maybe a vermiculite mix to germinate in would be best next year?
The chillies have been chitting in their heated propagator. After their tea bath they were carefully strained then snuggled into the chitting pods (takeaway container + capillary matting). Finally they were placed into the heated propagator on the 17th January.
In the propagator the temperature stays above 25 degrees (even on the coldest of – 5 nights so far) and reaches the sweaty heights of 35 degrees +. The pods are stacked with the Chinense types at the bottom, nearer the heated base, and the Annuum varieties on top, not quite so warm.
Without a thermostat it is impossible to keep the temp constant but it seems that most of the varieties have responded well. Here are the results so far…
Chilli (A=Annuum, Ch=Chinense)
Date started chitting (after a soak overnight in some tea)
Date of first germination
Cow Horn (A)
Cherry Bomb (A)
Golden Greek Peperoncini (A)
Sweet Banana (A)
Scotch Bonnet (Ch)
Madame Jeanette (Ch)
Trinidad Perfume (A)
Habanero Primero Red (Ch)
Mustard Habanero (Ch)
Yet to germinate
Orange Habanero (Ch)
Yet to germinate
Not bad results for 8 days after starting.
You may notice that a couple of previously mentioned chilli types (Poblano and 7 Pot Bubblegum) are missing from the first list. They have not yet turned up in the post. A refund will be requested. And, the very observant amongst you will have seen the addition of Serrano. These came free from one company. Lovely.
The seeds that germinated in the first few days are now in need of planting in their very first pot. These are newspaper pots filled with nutrient poor seed compost. We don’t want these tiny seedlings growing too quickly as daylight hours are still short and too much food will produce leggy seedlings. Hmmm, note to selves: do we need to think about a lamp?
Off to buy some seed compost and make 100 million more paper pots.
Germination was erratic with some chillies last year. What were the factors? It’s hard to tell as the chillies can’t tell us. Temperature is cited as a key factor. This year we will be attempting germination as follows:
Chitting, not in soil or vermiculite. This way it is really obvious what is going on with the seeds.
Keeping a consistent temperature, night and day.
A high enough temperature for the Chinense type chillies. These all seem to prefer a hot kickstart. It looks like a balmy 27 degrees might suit most chillies.
Not excluding light. Airing cupboards are a no no according to some folk.
Be patient. With some chillies listed as taking up to 6 weeks to germinate it it a waiting game.
Maybe a soak the seeds in some warm strong tea, to act as a chemical scarifyer.
Other charted information for future reference and in preparation for the pot stocktake and greenhouse reorganisation in February.
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