Is March really the best time to plant your chilli seeds?

Filed Under (Chilli Growing) by Chilli Willy on 20-12-2011

Sow your chilli seeds earlier for better harvests.

So, you have decided to grow chillies from seed.  Or you have been growing chillies from seed for a while and wonder why you are not getting the sort of harvests that growing chillies is all about – enough to cook with until next season’s crop! Read on to find out how sowing your chilli seeds early can increase your chilli harvests dramatically.

Our last post was on, but this time we would like to share with you some tips on how to get the best chilli harvests by sowing your chilli seeds earlier in the year.

Conventionally and quite rightly, March has always been mentioned whenever you ask “When is the best time to plant my chillies?”. Of course, this is very true. You can indeed sow your chilli seeds in March and get some decent results, but first, let’s take a look at the possible reasons for this:

First of all, like most vegetables, sowing your chilli seeds in March seems like the right thing to do. The chances of frost have usually cleared, and March signals the arrival of spring time. A time we usually associate with sowing chilli seeds.

If you do sow your chilli seeds in March, you will probably produce half decent results, and depending on how well you feed your plant and how much sunlight it gets (and also how warm you keep it, more on this in another post), you should get an average harvest at the end of the growing season.

However, as always, sometimes vegetables and sowing times are grouped together for ease of reference and quite often, you can always achieve better results by focusing only on the type of plant you are growing. And this is certainly important to remember when sowing your chilli seeds.

Sowing chilli seeds outside is not advised whatever the weather, so if we take a look at why you would want to sow chilli seeds in March, it is not based on the outside temperature (or even the indoor temperature), as chilli seeds require a constant temperature of between 27-32 Degrees C. to germinate succesfully.  So a limiting factor is not the time of year for germination.

You can germinate chilli seeds at any time of year with the right temperature and mositure levels. However the ideal time to sow chillies is in fact as early as possible in the year – as early as January or February.

It may be cold outside, but given that chilli seeds require warmth and heat (from a heated propagator or an airing cupboard) this is not a problem. The benefits of sowing your chillies seeds earlier in the year are plentiful:

When you sow your chilli seeds early in the year, you are actually extending the growing season quite significantly. Often, when you start growing chillies, you may not be doing all the things needed to really produce fantastic results the first time around, and as such your plants may not have enough time to produce a great harvest by the time summer has arrived.

The extra couple of months when sowing your chilli seeds early will allow your plant to take full advantage of this longer growing season, and you will be rewarded with a much greater and more worthwhile chilli harvest.

Although, it is important to remember that if you do sow your chilli seeds this early, that you only move them outside after the danger of last frost has passed.

So to summarise:

– Sow your chilli seeds as early as possible in the new year
– Make sure that you keep your seeds warm and the soil moist (but not soggy) until they germinate
– Only move them outside once the last frost has gone and make sure your plants receive a lot of light
– Follow our chilli growing instructions to get the best results from you chilli plants

You can still sow your chilli seeds in March, but you will have a much better chance at increasing your chilli harvests if you sow your seeds earlier in the season.

 

For more information about what to do when your chilli seeds have germinated, you can read our guide on how to grow chillies.

 

Until next time,
Happy chilli growing and please leave us a comment or any questions you may have.

Having trouble getting your chilli seeds to germinate? We have some expert tips for you.

Filed Under (Chilli Growing) by Chilli Willy on 15-12-2011

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Getting started: How to germinate your chilli seeds successfully.

So you like a bit of heat in your food and you’ve decided to grow your own chillies. Fantastic, there is nothing better than picking fresh chillies from your own chilli plants you have grown from chilli seeds and then cooking with them!

Often the most difficult bit when growing chillies is getting your chilli seeds to germinate successfully. You might even start to think if growing chillies is for you or if you need extra green fingers to grow chillies from seed successfully.

Well fortunately, the answer is really simple. You see, the majority of chilli varieties come from hot countries and have adapted to the climate of these countries. This includes the temperature (related to the time of year) that the chilli seeds recognise and say…”Hey, I need to start germinating now!” By the way, if you do have a talking chilli, please get in touch and leave us a comment.

Luckily all you need to know to successfully germinate your chilli seeds or to solve poor chilli seed germination problems are a few simple tips, which we will list below:

1) Temperature

Often the most overlooked factor. Chilli seeds require a constant temperature in order to germinate successfully. However many first time growers leave their chilli seeds on a window sill in the kitchen or in the greenhouse to germinate, where the temperature may be high during the day due to heating and sunlight etc. but a lot colder during the night time. These sort of conditions confuse your chilli seeds and will probably cause them to think “Hey, it’s too cold for me to come out. Turn up the heating and we’ll talk!”

The actual temperature chilli seeds need to germinate is between 27-32 degrees C. The best way to achieve this is by using a heated propagator or a heated mat for germinating seeds. The propagator is the best way to go as they usually come with a lid to keep in the humidity, which can help speed up germination.

If you do not have a heated propagator then the airing cupboard is the next best thing. The temperature will often be fairly constant and in the range that chilli seeds require. Just place your seed trays or pots in the airing cupboard and within 7-10 days you should start to see seedlings emerge. Although some chilli seeds can take over 2 weeks to germinate so please be patient!

2) Moisture

Next you will need to make sure that you water your chilli seeds and keep the soil moist, but not soggy. This is important as excess water may cause your chilli seeds to rot before they germinate. A simple way to ensure the correct moisture level is to use your finger to test the surface of the soil and only add water when the surface of the soil is dry to the touch. Again, avoid overwatering. Use just enough to make the soil moist. Ideally you can use a spray mister to water your plants from above. This minimises soil disturbance. Less disturbance can speed up germination.

3) Sunlight

Once your chilli seedlings sprout, move them to a well lit area – a sunny window sill is perfect for this. This will ensure your plants will grow strong and not start off thin and whispy.

If you sowed a number of chilli seeds or have used separate pots (like our Chilli Willy 6 pot greenhouse kit) then you can move the individual pots from the airing cupboard as soon as they sprout. However if you follow these instructions correctly, most of your chilli seeds will start to sprout at around the same time. Remember, the important point here is to make sure the temperature and moisture levels are as constant as possible and you’ll soon see seedlings emerge.

That’s it! Now you know how to successfully germinate chilli seeds. Once your chilli seeds have germinated, you have done the hard bit, now you can enjoy watching your chilli plants go through the different stages of growth and then go on to produce tasty fresh chillies that you can cook with. For more information on growing chillies, have a look at our complete chilli growing guide.

Please leave us a comment with any questions or feedback you may have.

Did you know that chilli plants can produce fruit for many years?

Filed Under (Chilli Growing) by Chilli Willy on 11-12-2011

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Chillies plants can produce harvests for many seasons. Find out how you enjoy earlier and greater harvests.

It is a common misconception that chilli plants are annuals and only produce 1 harvest, after which you will have to grow your chillies from seed the following year. This is untrue as chillies are in fact perrenials and can provide you with many seasons of fruit if you look after them right. Find out how to do this by following the simple steps below:

First let’s take a look at the benefits of overwintering your chillies vs. growing from seed next season:

– Your chillies will have a head start over growing from seed
– You will get an earlier harvest as your plants are already mature and have good roots
– Chilli harvests increases year after year

Imagine doubling or even tripling your harvests of chillies next growing season (by the way you can also freeze your chillies if you don’t use them fast enough). This can easily be achieved by “overwintering” your plant. It’s a fancy word, but basically it means preparing your plant for the cold months ahead.

You see, chillies are like roses in a way, you need to prune them, to allow them to conserve their energy for next year’s growth. After all they are doing a lot of work for you!

However, roses are outdoor plants and chillies do not like the cold, so you will need to bring your chilli plants in when the temperature falls below about 10 degrees C. or at the first signs of frost. Normally November is the month to do this.

The first bit of advice is to make sure you feed your plant well throughout the year with a good chilli fertiliser like Chilli Focus. This will make sure your plant is strong enough and that it has all the nutrition it needs for the cold months ahead.

Next, you will want to bring your plants indoors before the first signs of frost, of when the weather is turning a little bit chilly (pun intended!).

After you have brought your chilli plants in, now it’s time to pick all the remaining chillies from the plant if you haven’t already as this tells your plant to grow more next season!

When all the chillies have been picked, then you need to prune your chilli plant back to about 1/3 of it’s original height or by leaving a stalk of about 15-30 cm. This may sound harsh, but all that extra foliage consumes important energy that your plant will need throughout the winter maintaining it’s root system.

Now your plant is ready for overwintering, bear in mind that you will need to water your plant a lot less over the coming months. Only water when the surface of the soil is dry to the touch. You can also reduce feeding to every 2 weeks.

Don’t worry if your plant does not grow much over the coming months, it will go into a dormant state while it hibernates. Make sure you keep your plant warm throughout winter and away from any draughts.

That’s it! Now all you need to do is wait until spring and you should notice some new shoots emerge within a few weeks of spring arriving as your plant wakes up. You can then move your plant outdoors (after the danger of last frost) or keep it on a sunny window sill.

And because your plant already has established roots and a strong stem, you should see rapid growth and benefit from a much larger and earlier harvest than the previous growing season.

Good luck overwintering your plants and be sure to see our guide on how to overwinter your chilli plants (includes pictures).

If you have any questions or comments, please leave them below.

Chilli Focus Fertiliser 500 ml

Filed Under (General) by Chilli Willy on 01-12-2011

Although chillies can do well with a good general purpose fertiliser, they do have specific nutritional requirements and can benefit greatly from proper balanced nutrition.

 

Chilli Focus is an organic based balanced liquid chilli fertiliser containing a blend of highly soluble and absorbable chilli plant nutrients that nourish your chilli plants throughout every stage of growth to produce the best tasting and juciest chillies you have ever tasted.

 

Chilli Focus is produced by Growth Technology, a company that specialises in plant nutrition, using their 20+ years of expertise to deliver only the best.

Chilli Willy 6 Pot Greenhouse Kit

Filed Under (General) by Chilli Willy on 01-12-2011

The Chilli Willy Kit makes an ideal gift and allows you to grow the infamous and deliciously tasting Chilli Willies at home.
Comes with 6 pots so you can share the fun with your family, colleagues and friends – Guaranteed to make smiles!

Comes with 6 pots so you can share the fun with your family, colleagues and friends – Guaranteed to make smiles!

Chilli Willy 6 Pot Greenhouse Kit

Filed Under (General) by Chilli Willy on 01-12-2011

The Chilli Willy Kit makes an ideal gift and allows you to grow the infamous and deliciously tasting Chilli Willies at home.
Comes with 6 pots so you can share the fun with your family, colleagues and friends – Guaranteed to make smiles!

Comes with 6 pots so you can share the fun with your family, colleagues and friends – Guaranteed to make smiles!

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