I’m so excited about starting up a new Chili growing season! Last year was my first, and this year I will scale my chili growing (a lot)! This is my learnings, and a sharing of how I do. There are various ways to grow chillies from seed. I got the best plants last year from using my “Pluggbox”.
Not sure what the best translation for that will be, but you can get more visuals of what a Pluggbox is if you search Pinterest. I think the “Pluggbox” quite neat but you can use pretty much any seed tray.
This is how I do it:
I start early. Since a lot of Chillies takes about 200-250 days to develop I have figured out that I need to start the seeds in end of December (this batch started in December 28th).
When I start the seeds, I do like this:
1. Fill bottom half of the Pluggbox or Tray with regular soil, and top halv with sowing compost. Why do this? The regular soil has to much nutrients for the small new roots, and the seed doesn’t what that “strong” soil until they have grown a bit and reached the bottom half of the “Plugg” or Tray.
2. Water the soil until it drips through the tray (they soil will than shrink and leave room for the seed)
3. Place one seed in each “Plugg” (or if ju use regular trays, just place the seeds approx 1-2 cm appart). Make sure to mark what type of chilli you place where.
4. Cover with just a tiny little bit of sowing compost
5. Water carefully
6. Put the lid on, or cover with plastics go give the plants a good growing environment.
7. Place under growing light or in sunny window. If you have access to a warming mat, it will help the chilli seeds to be placed on that. (Last year I placed my chili seeds in a window sill above an element, and it worked fine. This year I just had them in room temperature which made them take about 2-3 more days, but turned out just fine aswell.)
Wait and watch. Such a great feeling when they start to grow! You will have to replant the small plants a few times before they end up in their last growing spot. I will get back to that in a few days when I have photos to share. I also have an update of the seeds i planted on december 20th that I can share soon.
Update, 9th of January
The chillies that I planted from seeds are starting to grow! First 10 days was kind of slow, but now you can almost see them grow. Classical Jalapeño seems to be most eager to grow into a chili plant.
10 days after sowing, they look like this:
Update, 15th of January
Time to give the small Chili Plants bigger pots. Just sharing the progress.
Update, 30th of January
Repotting the second chilli plant batch.
Update, 9th of February
Chilli update! The plants are coming along just fine. This is a Piment de Padron.
Update, 18th of February
Nice to see so many views to this post! Here’s a pic of how the plants are looking right now.
Update, 25th of February
Chilli update! The days are finally getting longer here, but the plants are still under extra light.
Update, 13th of March
New Chilli Update! This is the size of the Chilli Plants. I have started to water them with nutrients once a week. I make a nice Cocktail and to 1 litre of water i add 1 tablespoon liquid nutrients (this time BioBact) and 1 tablespoon Epsom Salt. The epsom salt contains magnesium which is good for little Chilli Plants.
Update, 14th of March
A small flower is starting to take shape. It’s a bit early since I still have to repot it a least one more time. But I’m always excited to see the flowers coming.
Update, 24th of March
It is now time to repot the Chilli Plants again. I’m now choosing a pot that is approximately 20 cm wide. This should be enough for the plants to continue to grow for a while and I’m only planning for one more repotting after this one.
Update, 19th of April
This is when my Chilli Plants usually start growing with full power. I feed them liquid nutrients once a week. They start growing really different depending on what type of Chilli it is, and also it seems like every Plant has it’s own style.
If you prefer, you can now top the Plant (cut the top of). It’s supposed to give a healthier and more solid Plant. I’m doing a comparing experiment this year, with topped vs non topped Chilli Plants. If you are curious, follow the topic in this separate post: Topped Chilli Plants vs. Non Topped Chilli Plants.
Soon, you will have your first Chilli Flowers showing.
When the Flowers Start to show, you have to make sure that they are Pollinated. There are several ways of doing that. You can use your finger, use a cotton bud/q-tip or shake the plant. If you want more input on this, check out my post How to pollinate Chilli Plants where you’ll find pictures and a quick movie. If you have your Plants outdoors, the wind and bees will probably take care of this for you.
After pollination, your first fruits will start to take shape! They look like this:
You can now remove the first fruits that shows. It will stress the plant, and is supposed to make it produce even more Chillies. I will come back to that in a separate post later.
It’s exhausting to produce fruits and flowers, so in general, make sure to give your Plant enough nutrients in this stage.
Update, 27th of April
Chillies are growing fast! This is a picture from one of my Jalapeño Plants.
And here’s a picture of one of the Hungarian Hot Wax Plants.
Update, 5th of May
Sharing some pictures of how the Chillies are growing. By now it’s easy to tell that there are big differences between the different Chilli types (both leaves and fruits).
Hungarian Hot Wax:
Update, 7th of June
Chilli Fruits are slowly ripening. Beautiful!
Update, 19th of June
Decided to try one of my early Jalapeños today. I’m saving a few to ripe into really deep red (to take seeds from), but am usually picking a lot of them green. I was using this one for a pasta sauce. I hope to have enough to do some pickled Jalapeños within a few days.
Update, 29th of June
I’m usually repotting at the same time as I move the Chilli Plant Outdoors, or just a few weeks before or after. The Plants are about this size when I repot them:
I repot to either large Pots (8 liters or more) or into regular Buckets that I prepare simply by drilling holes in the bottom:
I then add about 10 cm of soil, mix in about ½ cup of Chicken Manure (saves me from running around and feeding all my Chilli Plants with liquid nutrients from now on..), place the Chilli Plant on top of the mix and fill the bucket with soil.
I usually run around the garden though – to find sticks and other material to support the plants as they start to give heavy fruits from now on…
Update, 9th of July
Sharing some pictures of these Chilli Plants. As you can see I have transplanted them to Buckets (I use regular Buckets and drill holes in the bottom, simply because it’s just as good as pots, but way better price…)
I try to select varieties that are different. I always grow:
- Some kind of Jalapeño. I love to make pickled Jalapeño. It’s a good way for me to save the full harvest, and I eat it all. It’s not that strong, but always useful.
- Some kind of really early Chilli. Last two years I have choosen a variety called ‘Aji Blanco Cristal’, and I will grow it again for next year. It ripens in 55-60 days. The short time needed to produce fruits makes it possible for me to grow it outdoors, so it doesn’t have to be in a greenhouse which most other types of Chillis needs to be where I live. I really like Aji Blanco Cristal since I can harvest it green, orange or red and choose to eat fresh or just save it in the freezer. Very allround chilli, tasty but not super hot.
Other varieties that I like and tend to choose season after season is Monkeyface (growing a yellow one this year), Hot Lemon, Madame Jeanette and Tabasco.
I’m still looking for the perfect Chilli to dry up and make Chilli Flakes from. I’m always making Chilli Flakes, and they are usually good but I still tend to change from season to season.
Update, 17th of November
Have been picking loads of Chillies this year. I had way to many Plants, but loved every one of them. It’s now mid November and I picked the last Chillies today. I will be starting next Seasons Chillies in about a month and can’t wait.