Pots Galore

It’s been a while. Busy times, you know. A quick status update shows that the February planted seeds are now in 9cm pots, they have 4-5 pairs of true leaves and are being fed ‘Chilli Focus’ plant food once a week (10mls to 1L). The March chitters are in their coir pots. Most have at least one pair of true leaves.

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So what happened in the chitting experiment? Jalapeno, Bulgarian Carrot, Aji Limon, Prairie Fire and Pretty Purple were all stars. Pretty much 100% success rate with the chitting within two weeks. Somewhat confusing results from the other candidates. Scotch Bonnet gave a 50% show. Fresno sent us three germinated offerings. Serrano & Long Slim Cayenne a couple each. Still NONE from Tobago Seasoning and Go Chu. None whatsoever. Disappointing to say the least.

The conditions were a little varied but surely one or two of each seed type should have germinated? We did take a holiday to Cornwall. The seeds were kept warm in the boxes at the back of an Aga the size & colour of a fire engine. They were also kept in the light. One Serrano showed his head in that week but then a few more of the harder types followed suit. Maybe light exposure is also a factor for some chilli types?

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There was also a brief foray into chemical assistance to germination. Some seed cases are tough and can be helped to soften using a couple of techniques: presoaking before chitting and using tea to soak them in. The tannins in the tea helps soften the seed case to allow more moisture in and then the root to break out. Not sure if I am committed enough to try diluted bird poo as a chemical aid. Might try scarification though.

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One tiny glimmer of hope remains in the fact that lots of books, seed packets and website claim that chilli seeds can take up to 5 weeks to germinate. All remaining seeds are basking in warm sunlight during the day and in the airing cupboard at night. If any of the Tobago Seasoning or Go Chu germinate they will be the most precious plants EVER. Definitely ones to overwinter. Come on now, play nice and give me couple of the plants I really want

Potting on and Beyond

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.

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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.