Posted: 29/01/2015 at 14:06
I'm with Grant and Treehugger on this.
Growing chillis seems to be one of those things that can become a healthy obsession, so it's natural to be itching to get started already.
Start too early, and it's the double whammy of not enough heat to germinate, then not enough light as well as heat to help them thrive. But these can be overcome with heated propagators, bright windowsills, extra artificial lighting etc, although you might still end up with results that are caught up by seeds planted much later.
Chillis are always the first thing I grow each year. They really do benefit from the longest possible growing season. Later plantings don't always catch up as easily as you find with tomatoes, which I agree are best left later, till at least mid-Feb if you have a HP, and early March if you don't.
I've started chillies even earlier than Grant, also in a heated propagator. They're doing fine, around an inch high and with true leaves already growing. They need the heat for germination, but will tolerate more cold once they're seedlings. At that point enough light is more important in preventing legginess.
I have them on the sunniest windowsill, then move them in to the kitchen, the warmest and brightest room, for the evening, then back to the sunniest windowsill first thing the next morning.