How To Grow Chillies and Peppers From Seed

Hi Guys

Do you enjoy the crunch of sweet bell peppers in your salad or the delicious sweet taste in your stir fry or even a little bit of  heat from some chilli, then why not grow your own? Here is how:

There are so many different varieties of Chilli and Pepper seeds to choose from, whether you like them sweet or hot.

There are so many different varieties of Chilli and Pepper seeds to choose from, whether you like them sweet or hot.

 

 

Both the Chilli pepper and the Bell (Capsicum) Pepper are from the same family so the following instructions on how to grow them are the same.  They are not the easiest seed to germinate and can take up to 21 days to pop their little heads above the soil  but with a little patience you will soon be reaping the benefits of growing your own peppers.

As peppers need a really long growing season it is best if you start your seeds off around February (in Ireland) , growing them any earlier would not be of any benefit as they will be ‘leggy’ as the light condition would be too low.  Alternatively you could, as I do use grow lights and bottom heat (heated mat) which will hopefully give the seeds the perfect condition for germination.

Fill your seed tray, cell tray or modules almost to the top with a good quality seed compost, firm in slightly and carefully pop your seeds on the top.  Cover the seeds with a thin layer of compost or vermiculite and place in a propagator, if you don’t have one then a plastic  bag or cling film will do the job too 🙂 Peppers need a temperature of around 21 degrees c for successful germination.

You will have all seen what a pepper seed looks like when you cut into your chilli or bell pepper.

You will have all seen what a pepper seed looks like when you cut into your chilli or bell pepper.

 

Remember to label your peppers or you wont know what you've got growing on ;)

Remember to label your peppers or you wont know what you’ve got growing on 😉

 

Cover your seeds lightly vermiculite and gently water in.

Cover your seeds lightly with vermiculite and gently water in.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The seeds can be slow to germinate, so, as I said before, be patient and wait ;). and soon you will see them pop their heads up.  Once they are about an inch or sow tall you can gradually take the propagator lid off.  I normally take it off during the day and pop it back on at night for a few days, remembering they still need light and heat but will cope with slightly cooler conditions of maybe 18 degrees c.

These seeds are just about ready to be potted on into 3" pots or cell trays.

These seeds are just about ready to be potted on into 3″ pots or cell trays.

Carefully 'prick out' your seedlings as they are very delicate and the stem can break very easily!

Carefully ‘prick out’ your seedlings as they are very delicate and the stem can break very easily!

 

 

 

Make a small hole in your compost and carefully pop your seedling in. Gently firm around and water in.

Make a small hole in your compost and carefully pop your seedling in. Gently firm around and water in.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The seedlings will need to be pricked out and  transplanted into 3″ pots when they are large enough to handle.  Then kept on a warm windowsill until mid April to early May, when they can be put into your greenhouse or poly tunnel. I sit my pots on top of the raised  planters in my poly tunnel as the soil is nice and warm.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Once your peppers reach about 6″ to 8″ they are ready to go into their final pot or grow bag, or for those of you lucky enough to live in a warmer location, they can go into the ground.  If planting in grow bags I would put maybe 3 per bag and if using pots (around the 10ltr size), only one per pot.  The larger bell peppers will need supporting as the plants can grow quite big and the fruits can hopefully, be heavy :).

These peppers are now about 4 months old and are finally ready to be potted on into their final position, in my case into pots but grow bags or directly into the ground is just as good.

These peppers are now about 4 months old and are finally ready to be potted on into their final position, in my case into pots but grow bags or directly into the ground is just as good.

Carefully take your young plant out of its pot

Carefully take your young plant out of its pot

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Make a well in the middle of your pot, pop your young pepper plant in firm in gently.

Make a well in the middle of your pot, pop your young pepper plant and gently firm in.

Soon you will start to see the first flowers appear and this is when you need to start feeding your peppers with a good tomato fertilizer (or similar).  Bell or Capsicum Peppers do not like to be waterlogged or indeed left to dry out, so always water little and often to keep the soil evenly moist.  I usually water and feed my peppers around the same frequency as I feed my tomatoes.  However if you like your chillies hot then water only when the leaves start to wilt as these plants are originally from hotter climates and will produce the best chilies if they are given a similar environment, ie: left to dry out before watering again (stressing the plant).  It is also a good idea to keep your sweet peppers and your chilli peppers apart as they will freely cross-polinate with each other and your hot chilli might disappoint you by being milder than you would like.

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Sometimes the plants can grow a bit spindly, which I have experienced over the years.  The best way to stop this and to get a bumper crop is to ‘pinch out’ the tops of the plants once they reach about 12″ tall.  This will encourage side shoots and the plant will give you a much better yield of peppers.  I will do a short video on this in the next couple of weeks.

Chillies and Bell Peppers all start out green and as they mature they will turn into orange, red, yellow or even purple, all depending on the variety you are growing.  Remember that the more peppers you pick the more your plant will produce so it’s always good to pick a few green ones even if you really want them red.  Chilli peppers will become hotter as they colour up and the bell peppers will become sweeter.

This is a cayenne pepper which changes colour so much before it finally turns red.

This is a cayenne pepper which changes colour many times before it finally matures and turns red.

 

These bell peppers were just so sweet and crispy.

These bell peppers were just so sweet and crispy.

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This is a hot little chilli called Prairie Fire. The peppers flower, turn white, green, orange and then red.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Over Wintering Chilli Plants

Last year I decided to do a little experiment and tried to overwinter my chilli pepper plants.  Chilli plants are perennials and if overwintered correctly, should last for years.  So at the end of the growing season (which was around October here) when the weather really started to cool down, I brought my chilli peppers indoors.  I left them for another month or so as there were quite a few flowers/chillies on them and I didn’t want to waste any.  After a few days I watched the flowers fall off rather than mature into peppers which was a little disappointing but the chillies ripened from green to red which was a bonus.

These are some of chillies that were overwintered.

These are some of the chillies that were overwintered.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Once I finished picking all the chillies off of my plants I then took the drastic step of giving them a good prune, so that there was only a few inches of the plant left.  Doing this will ensure that your plant does not waste energy trying to keep foliage and fruits but instead put all its energy into surviving the winter. Great job I thought as I closed the door of my spare room, watered, pruned and all tucked in for the winter.  They looked great for the first couple of weeks but then I checked in on them and they had been invaded with aphids, which must have come in from the tunnels with them……uh oh I thought.  OK  I have managed to keep them alive for the past few weeks and I wasn’t going to let these little pests destroy all my hard work, so neem oil to the rescue.  I mixed a teaspoon of neem oil with a little washing up liquid and some water and went to war on the aphids.  I sprayed every plant until they were dripping and then watered the compost with the neem oil mix as well.  The aphids would have harbored in there too.  This was a process which I had to repeat over the winter and despite all my efforts only 6 or so plants have survived. Oh well I did try and  if it wasn’t for the aphids I think my experiment would have been a lot more successful!  PS  Overwintering is not recommended for bell peppers.  With hindsight, I should have treated the plants and soil with neem oil before bringing them indoors.  This would have lessened the impact of the aphids.  I am sorry to have to admit that I won’t repeat the experiment as the effort and work load  wasn’t worth the gain.

 

Health Benefits of Chillies and Peppers

Peppers are incredibly good for you, especially the brightly coloured ones.  They are both low in calories and packed full of essential vitamins like  A, B6, C and  E. Red Bell Peppers contain phytochemicals and carotenoids, especially beta-carotene, antioxidants and ant-inflammatory properties which is just soooo good for your health. Red Peppers also contain around 300 percent of your daily vitamin C intake and compared with the unripened green pepper they have twice as much vitamin C and loads more vitamin A.

Capsaicin,( the ingredient that makes chillies hot) in peppers,  especially chilli peppers have so many health benefits. These include reducing ‘bad’  cholesterol, diabetes,can aid in pain relief ,can  inhibit cancer cell growth, increase blood flow and even help with your libido 🙂

 

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So now you know give them a grow!!!

Thanks for tuning in and Happy Gardening

Take Care

Eve

 

 

 

 

Stay tuned and I will show you how harvest your chilli/peppers, how save your seeds from your homegrown peppers and also how to preserve them 🙂

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“Whats Up Doc” How To Grow Carrots by Bugs Bunny!

Hi Guys

“Whats Up Doc”

Some people can often be very fussy about different vegetables but carrots are one of those vegetables that most people like, I don’t think I’ve ever seen a Sunday roast without them!  Carrots are an excellent source of beta carotene, the source of vitamin A, Vitamin C and they are also high in fibre.  They come in many shapes, sizes and colours, from round ones to stumpy looking ones, orange ones,yellow ones, white ones and even purple ones and guess what… orange was not the original colour, purple and white were apparently the original colours. They can be eaten raw as a nibbly snack, grated in salads, roasted, boiled and even used as an ingredient for a cake mix 🙂

Most carrots need deep, sandy soil that has been dug over well removing any stones or clumps of clay so that it is a nice crumbly consistency for the roots to grow. If your soil is very ‘clayey’ then try to add some sand and maybe some perlite to help lighten it.   If you are going to add fresh manure to the seed bed you must prepare it  the season before the crop is to be planted, as a freshly manured bed will make the roots fork instead of growing long and straight.  If you haven’t got manured planting beds then you need to add some good organic fertilizer before sowing your seeds. The reason that carrots fork if your manure is too fresh is due to the excess nitrogen and the carrot seedlings will hunt deeper into the soil to find nutrients which is how the roots will split into different directions (fork)!!  Another theory is that the hot fresh manure burns the roots which make them fork….best not to add fresh eh 😉

Carrot seeds are tiny and it is a good idea to sow them as thinly as possible, so you can either sprinkle by tapping the packet very gently, pop some into your hands and sprinkle or you could add some sand to the seeds and them sow.  I have never tried the latter but it is something that people do.   This reduces the amount of thinning necessary and potential risk from pests such as the carrot fly.  Carrots need to be planted in drills approximately 1/2 inch deep and about 4-6 inches apart (read your seed packet as this can vary depending on the variety you are growing).

Carrot Fly

Carrots are relatively pest free vegetables apart from the carrot fly. This horrid little pest is drawn to the carrots by the smell of crushed foliage as you pull the thinnings, so to reduce the risk of an attack try to  do this task only in the evenings and on a still day, removing any thinnings and watering afterwards. Carrot fly are also low flying insects so if you are planting in raised boarders you are less likely to get an attack.  Also, if growing on the ground you could try to put a net around the area that you are growing the carrots which will also help to deter these horrid little pests.

Once the seeds have germinated which may take a good week or so, depending on when you sowed them, wait till they are large enough before thinning them out. I always wait till they are big enough to use the thinnings which are so sweet and tender.

Carrot plants need little very little attention whilst they are growing, although the plants should be kept well watered as too little water will only result in poor yields and woody roots.

Carrots can be harvested 12-16 weeks after sowing depending on when they were sown and which variety you are using.  Start pulling up your carrots as soon as they’re big enough to eat.

Enjoy 🙂