An unexpected surprise
So, the 2022 Chilli growing season officially began for me today. Even though I had prepared for it, at the last moment the start of the season went pear shaped. I had followed my own advice and placed the seed into the refrigerator for three days. Also, as part of an experiment, I also put the same varieties into a deep freeze. I did this to find out whether cooling or freezing seeds is better for seed starting
After wrapping the seeds in aluminium foil, I placed them individually into seed tray inserts in mini seed starter trays with lids. The inserts consist of twelve cavities. I faithfully labelled each cavity with the variety it contained. The covered seed starter trays were then placed into the fridge and deep-freeze. The seeds were taken from the fridge and deep-freeze after three days. They were brought to room temperature, and I then poured weak Camomile tea into the trays. It was at that point, the unexpected happened.
Where I thought the seeds would remain in their individual cavities, they decided to go wandering. I had not realised there was a gap between the seed tray inserts and the bottom of the trays. Thus, the seeds didn’t stay where they should have. They escaped from a hole in the bottom of the seed insert cavities. What I was left with was a pool of water with Chilli seeds of various sizes floating in a pool of water at the bottom of the seed trays. I was now faced with the fact that I had a whole bunch of perfectly viable Chili seeds, but I was unable to tell the one from the other. What a way to start the Chilli growing season!
Sorting the seeds
Okay, I said to myself. How do we deal with this one? Bear in mind it had happened in both seed starting trays. I am talking about over fifty seeds here. There was no escaping that I couldn’t precisely identify each variety, but I thought I would give it a go anyway. I looked at the pool of swimming Chilies seeds facing me and applied a process of elimination. I started with the seeds I knew to be small. These were the Charapitas and the Malawian Birdseye’s. So, I separated the smaller seeds from the rest. They were then marked as being one or the other variety. There was nothing precise in deciding what was what. It was simply a matter of taking a guess . I then looked for the seeds I knew to be big. These were the Jalapenos, Tangerine dreams, and Cayenne longs. Once again, they were labelled as being one or the other. Once again guesswork was applied
I know this all sounds very random, but there was a certain amount of logic applied to the choice. I chose what the seeds could possibly be based on where they had landed up in the pools of water. The closer they were to where they should have been used as a yardstick to determine what they potentially were
For the rest of the seeds, it was far more complicated. They were well and truly mixed. All I could do was take a complete guess of what they are based on their seeds size alone. Luckily, I still had seeds of each variety left over. This kind of steered me in the right direction, but it was not precise by any sense of the imagination.
So, what I now have is a whole lot of seeds that have been planted with questionable identities. They are currently in propagators, and I am waiting for them to germinate. I have taken the view that the starting of these seeds is part of the experiment I am conducting to determine whether freezing or cooling is best for seed starting. However, I will also use them to expand my skills in identifying unknown Chillies. I will wait for them to germinate, and then develop their first set of true leaves. From there, I will try to identify what species they are from based on the leaves alone,
Okay, so some good will come from this after all. However, there is no way that I continue the growing season with only these seeds. It goes against the grain growing Chillies without knowing what they are until they finally flower and set fruit. It is essential to know what you are growing to determine final pot size when you harden the plants off. So, I will start some more seeds of the same varieties. I have already placed them in the fridge and will start them next week. Where I previously allowed three days for cooling, I am now pushing it a bit longer. I am not sure it will make any difference. This time around, however, I have placed a double layer of capillary matting at the bottom of the trays. Now when I pour the Chamomile tea into the seed tray, the seeds will remain where they are. There is no way for them to escape
What the big question now is, is what I will do with the mixed-up seedlings. The way I see it now is that only the very best specimens will be taken through to final hardening off. I have no choice. There is no way that I can take so many seedlings through to maturity. I just don’t have the space