Growing Chillies from seed. Revisited

New seed starting ideas

My previous post mentioned I would be starting  Ghost Peppers, Carolina Reapers, Hanain Yellow Lanterns and Habanero Maya reds, now, for next season.  For the most part, I got all the seeds planted about a week ago. I was expecting germination in two weeks. Surprisingly, the Hanain Yellow lanterns sprouted in three to four days

Over and above these Chillies, I also started Trinidad Scorpion Butch T seeds and some Habaneros. I will also be planting more superhot varieties in the not-too-distant future.

Unfortunately, the Maya red seeds took longer to arrive than I expected. The seeds only arrived yesterday. While preparing these seeds for quick germination, I began thinking it might be interesting to revisit seed starting. 

I have new techniques that I recently came across on this subject.  These techniques apparently speed up germination. I will be trying them out to find out how well they work.

To try out these ideas, I will need some teabags, kitchen paper towels, ziplock bags, an art knife or a scalpel. I will also need the seeds I will be planting. The ideas are all simple but could have a huge impact on how quickly seeds germinate.

When growing Chillies, it’s important to get seeds to germinate as quickly as possible. The longer the seeds take to sprout, the greater the risk becomes of them rotting. After all, you are keeping the seeds in a warm moist environment to get them to germinate. These conditions, while being great to get seeds to spring into life, they are also perfect for decay to set in.

Refrigerate and soak

While I was on the website of the Puckerbutt Pepper company, I came across some recommendations I had never heard of before.  The Puckerbutt pepper company is owned by Ed Currie, who is no less than the man who developed the Carolina Reaper. The Carolina Reaper is officially the world’s hottest Chilli. It has a Scoville rating of over 1.6million SHU

The recommendation given on the website is that you should place your seeds in a  refrigerator for three days before planting them. Apparently, this tricks the seeds into believing it’s winter. Once brought back to room temperature, they may germinate quicker. because they believe its spring

Once this has been done, the seeds should be soaked in room-temperature tea for 30 minutes before they are sown.  The seed shells get softened by doing this. In effect, soaking the seeds in tea mimics what happens when seeds pass through a bird’s digestive system. Acidity in the bird’s stomach eats away at the walls of the seeds and thins them out. So, when the bird releases the seeds in its droppings, the seeds have been primed to germinate quickly.  Quick germination is virtually guaranteed, not only by the thinned shells but also because the seeds are dropped with an immediate source of fertilizer.

Paper towel germination

During this season, I started seeds using four methods.  I used peat pellets, Rockwell cubes, paper towels and my seven-pod Aerogarden. The most success I had was with peat pellets. For some unknown reason, my Aerogarden didn’t work. That’s a first. Usually, it always produces excellent results. It is something I need to look into.

As for the other methods, it is pretty obvious I am missing a trick somewhere. Other growers seem to have great success with Rockwell cubes and paper towel germination, but not me. Rockwell cubes in particular do not work for me. I have had slightly more luck with paper towels.

Germinate  Chilli  seeds using wet paper towels

With this in mind, I have decided to give Rockwell Cubes a miss next season. I will look at them again in more detail in the future.

However, what I will be doing, is to have another go at paper towel germination. The purpose here is twofold. One, it is a method that can be used to check seed viability. Secondly, they are also a method of starting seeds. , albeit in my case not very successfully’ The results I have achieved haven’t been anywhere near as good as with the peat pellets.  Maybe I can kill two birds with one stone?

The new idea here, thus, is to make sure of the viability of seeds (especially old seeds) before planting them. If I know the seeds are viable before planting them, the odds are,  I will get great germination rates. If I decide to keep the seedlings after doing thE testing, all I need to do is keep them alive. That’s where my problem has been up to now!

On a lighter note

I read somewhere online that one grower follows all the steps for paper towel germination ( here) but then puts the zip-lock bag into a heated insulation bag of sorts. The insulated bag is black. Doing this goes back to the theory that seeds germinate best in warm dark conditions. While I was trying to figure out what I would use to do this, a brainwave struck me. I certainly don’t have a heated insulated container to t sprout the seeds. s and wasn’t going out to buy one. What I do have, however, is a pair of battery-powered heated gloves. They were a present from my wife a couple of years ago. She wasn’t impressed, and they have been lying unused for a long time time. So these fit the bill exactly (maybe a bit small), but they are black, insulated, heat and black in colour. Perfect. These gloves will be put to good use soon!


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