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I am in the process of growing chillies and so far have some very healthy seedlings on the go. I know that chillies dont like to be too wet, but how can I tell how wet the compost is underneath, which is where the damage is done if I get it wrong. Apart from waiting for them to wilt that is and I dont what it to get to that point!
Yes, they're like tom seedlings, they should be allowed to dry out between waterings. If they're healthy at this point, you can't be doing too much wrong. What are the seedlings in? Modules? Pots? If you can't poke a finger in and down to test the mix, work off the surface appearance. Unless the mix is unusually deep, a properly dry surface means dry. It's best always to err on the side of under-watering. A day or so of dry mix - unless it's scorching hot - won't hurt them. In fact, it will help. Chillies, like toms, prosper if treated mean.
thanks for your help, they are in unheated propergators sown in modules, I'll give it a go, cheers
Thanks for this; a really useful read. I'm growing chillies and tomatoes, and wasn't aware I should let them dry out a little. When should I expect my chillies to produce?
I've also got a bigger chilli plant, which I bought with a few chillies on it from a nursery last year - it keeps producing little buds but they never turn into chillies. Is it just too early? Or do they like it hot? It's on a windowsill where it gets a lot of sun during the day but probably gets quite cold too (a single-glazed window in Manchester!) Also, should I feed the chilli plant with tomato food once it gets going? (So many questions! Never grown chillies before)
Just found the seed packet - the chillies I've grown are Cayenne - and it says I should harvest Aug-Oct. Should have checked that first, eh?!
Chillies are very slow to start, but once they get going they catch up to toms quite quickly. Feed them with what you'll feed your toms - a fertiliser low in N, higher in P, and highest in K. But don't overfeed either. They both do best if made to struggle a little. By producing fruit they're effectively reproducing themselves and they will feel the need to reproduce if they sense they're struggling a bit. If they're stuffed full of fertiliser, they won't feel the need to reproduce. It's the same with watering. Much better to err on the lesser side (for the same reason as fertilising). You won't hurt them and they will produce better for you. Toms and chillies are very tough critters.
I'd leave the plant where it is during the day but maybe move it somewhere warmer overnight. Temperature consistency is important.