Back in 2020 with the pandemic just starting I decided to grow some chillies. This isn’t the first time I’ve tried, way back in my first home I grew a few chillies from seeds that I collected from supermarket chillies. I have no idea what they were and I don’t remember the plants giving any fruit even though they flowered and grew well.
My 2020 chilli growing escapades were trying to grow ghost peppers (bhut jolokia) and it didn’t go very well. I was late planting them (around April) and I didn’t care for them very well. I ended up with 5 small plants and no fruit that year. I managed to keep them alive over winter but again didn’t look after them well in 2021 (which was a rubbish growing year anyway). At the end of 2021 I harvested a single tiny pepper. The pepper was suitably hot but the crop was tiny. In 2022 I will do better.
Thursday 6th January 2022
I planted the chillies today (twenty ghost pepper seed from South Devon Chilli Farm). This seems early but when I looked for growing guides it was about an even split between January and February planting. I’m using John Innes seedling compost with a good addition of perlite to help with drainage. This is much better compost than the rubbish I was using before. I’ve watered sparingly and placed the trays on a propagator. Last year I used the seed trays that came with the propagator, this year I’ve decided to go with plug trays. The trays are covered with a sheet of clingfilm to keep in the moisture. The propagator is in the workshop in front of a large, south facing, window. The plants will be kept indoors until there is no danger of frost.
Saturday 8th January 2022
No sign of the chillies yet! I’m kidding, I don’t expect them for a while but I decided to get the thermocouple out and measure the temperature of the soil. It’s currently about 15 Celsius in the workshop and soil temperature isn’t as high as I wanted. In the centre plugs half way down it’s hitting 25 Celsius but on the edges near the top where the seed is it’s only getting to 18 Celsius. I think I’m going to have to add some insulation around the side of the trays but I don’t want to accidently over heat the propagator.
Sunday 9th January 2022
The chillies were too cold so I wrapped them, and the other seeds, in bubble wrap.
Tuesday 11th January 2022
The cucumbers, peas and one tomato has already sprouted. No sign from the chillies yet.
Friday 14th January 2022
The first chillies have sprouted!
The taller one in the picture was actually above the ground last night so that makes it seven days for the first seed and eight for the second. Unsurprisingly the first two seeds to germinate are from the middle row where it’s warmer. I’ve taken the clingfilm off but I’m keeping the bubble wrap loosely over the top for a bit of extra warmth.
After planning the rest of the vegetable patch for this year I’ve decided to go all in on the chillies. As such I’ve bought more chilli seeds from Sea Spring Seeds. I’ve gone for Lemon Drop, Fairy Lights, Sparkler and Submarine. None are super hot but they should add some colour and flavour variety. I particularly like the look of Lemon Drop as I love the colour yellow.
Sunday 16th January 2022
What a successful year for germination. It feels like I’ve gone from getting everything wrong to at least some things right.
There are now thirteen ghost pepper seedlings showing their face. My planting plan calls for eighteen I think but that’s perhaps a little hopeful from twenty seeds. The seeds along the edge generally haven’t germinated as well as the ones in the middle which I’m not surprised by. I think I got the watering level spot on this year but the temperature wasn’t well enough controlled particularly at the edges. I think germination would be more rapid and probably more complete at higher temperatures but it looks likes twenty Celsius is enough to get most seeds to germinate.
Monday 17th January 2022
I helped a couple of ghost pepper seedlings get out of their seed cocoon today as they appeared to be stuck. One went well but I might have hurt the second one, fingers crossed it is ok. It looks like there might be another three germinating, will probably be able to tell in the morning.
Some space was freed up on the propagator so I was able to get some more chillies going. I’ve put in ten of each if Lemon Drop and Sparkler. I’m really looking forward to trying the Lemon Drop, apparently they are easy to grow so hopefully I’ll get a good crop.
Friday 21st January 2022
A few more ghost peppers have sprouted. Of the 21 seeds I got from South Devon Chilli Farm only two haven’t sprouted. The late sprouting seeds don’t seem as strong as the early sprouting ones. There was one unusually small seed in the pack which has sprouted but I don’t think it’ll survive.
It looks like the first Sparkler seedlings are coming up. They are basically still covered in compost though so it’s hard to tell.