Posted: 02/09/2013 at 15:05
Anyway, Japaholic, growing chillies isn't hard. They're grown identically to tomatoes. I don't how much you know about growing chillies but I can give you a quick guide.
First, you're going to have source seed for the varieties you want to grow. You might need to try the internet.
Chillies are usually slow to germinate and take a while to develop to a size ready to plant out either in the ground or in containers. Longer than tomatoes. With toms, you usually allow about 8 weeks from sowing to planting out. Chillies can easily take 12 weeks.
I don't know exactly when it warms up for you, but count back 10-12 weeks from when you get consistent daytime temps in the low-20sC and overnight temps in the teens to calculate a sowing date.
Sow the seeds in damp (not wet) potting mix. You can use any sort of shallow container. I use the small meat or veg trays from the supermarket with holes punched in the bottom for drainage. Sow them shallowly, no deeper than the size of the seed itself. Push them gently into the mix, sprinkle some mix lightly on top if you can still see them.
Put the container into a plastic bag but leave the mouth of the bag open. You're creating a mini-greenhouse.
For germination, the seeds need temps in the low- to mid-20s, preferably from beneath. You can sit the container on a heater, hot water service, anything that will generate reasonable warmth from beneath. Condensation inside the bag should mean you don't need to moisten the mix. If it starts to dry out, though, mist the surface lightly with some water from a spray bottle just to dampen it. They don't need light at this stage.
When the seeds germinate - some will take longer than others - take them out of the plastic bag. Now they need as much light as possible as well as warmth, though not as much warmth as they needed to germinate. High teens will do. Bright sunlight is preferable - eg, inside on a sunny window sill - but artificial light will also suffice. I sometimes put mine under a couple of desk lamps with the lights an inch and a half above the seedlings. As the seedlings grow, I raise the lights accordingly.
The first "leaves" you'll see aren't real leaves. They're cotyledons. They nourish the seedling. A week or 10 days later, you'll see the first real leaves. When you've got at least two real leaves, you can give the seedlings their first transplant.
Fill 3" pots with potting mix. Water the mix and let it drain thoroughly to the point where it is still damp but not wet. Use a pencil or similar to drill a hole in the mix. Not to the bottom of the pot, deep enough to accommodate the seedling's roots and some of the stem.
Use something fine, with a point - I use a 3" nail - to gently prise each seedling from its home mix. You just have to be careful not to damage the roots. Lower the seedling into the hole so that the roots and about a third of the stem are underground. Squeeze the pot and tamp the mix around the seedling to make sure it's well bedded in. Repeat the process, one seedling per pot.
Now, again, it's a matter of much light as possible for as long as possible each day. When my outside temps are still in single figures but there's plenty of sunlight, I put mine outside on the terrace in a crate wrapped in clear bubble wrap. The bubble wrap uses the sunlight to trap enough warmth inside. But the bright sunlight is the key. I bring them inside overnight.
When the outside temps get into at least double figures, I put them outside without the bubble wrap, bringing them inside again when it cools down at night. When the overnight temps reach double figures, they stay out all night.
When the plants are 6-8" tall, they're ready to plant out wherever you intend growing them. Plant them at least 3' apart, more if you have the space. All they need is as much sunlight and warmth as possible.