Hot Pepper Dudes, LLC

Starting Hot Peppers from Seeds
April 27, 2012, 6:50 pm
Filed under: Growing Hot Peppers | Tags: ,
In order to do any growing this season, you must have your seeds ready when it’s time to start planting.  Over the winter, it’s a good idea to take stock on what seeds you already have and see if you need to replace any favorites or try some new varieties.
I order all my seeds from Pepper Joe.  I consistently get 100% germination from his seeds and he throws in free seeds with every order.  Check out the catalog to start planning which varieties you will grow this year.
Also, if you are a salsa fan, nothing beats adding your own home grown tomatoes.  Pepper Joe has a sister site, called Penny’s Tomatoes, where you can get a large variety of tomato seeds.  You won’t find these varieties in a grocery store and Penny also throws in free seeds with every order.
Personally, I am a fan of growing the kinds of peppers that you can’t buy in a grocery store.
By the time the new year rolls around, it’s time to place your order.  After January 1st, Pepper Joe adds new seeds for the year.  I use this as an opportunity to impulse buy one of his new varieties and give that a shot.  I shoot for a total of 6 varieties, 2 plants each, to grow during a given season.  This is largely due to space limitations more than anything else.
OK, so now you’ve figured out what kinds of plants you want to grow this year and you’ve ordered your seeds.  After they arrive, the fun begins.  If you live in a warm climate you’ll want to start your seeds in February.  As you work your way up to cooler climates you’ll want to start a little later, but everyone should certainly have them started by April.  The rule of thumb that I use is to start them 45 days before you are able to put them outside (temperatures consistently above 65 degrees).
Get yourself a 12-peat mini greenhouse to start your seeds.  You can pick them up at any home improvement center in the gardening section or you can order online.
Next, label the front of your greenhouse so you can lay out where each variety will be planted.  Make a map of where you planted each type of seed so you remember what kind is where – believe it or not, it can be challenging to tell them apart.

Prepare the Seeds

For best results, it’s advisable to soak your seeds in warm water over night before planting them.  You’ll want to soak 2 – 3 seeds per each plant you intend to grow just in case some don’t germinate.  I generally just soak 2 per plant as the seeds I get from Pepper Joe tend to 100% germinate.

Soaking them gives them a head start when they get into the peat.  The easiest way I’ve found to do this is to use a shot glass for each variety.  You can then arrange the shot glasses on your greenhouse planner so you know which ones go where, like this:


Plant the Seeds

The next day, your seeds are ready to be planted.  Open up your mini greenhouse to get started planting and make sure the peats are seated properly.  It should look like this:


This is a good time to label the front of it so it matches up with your greenhouse planner sheet.

Add warm water to the tray and allow the peats to soak up the water.  Keep gradually adding the warm water until all of the peats have expanded.  Once everything has expanded, the peats will be a dark (wet) color and be ready for planting.


Break out your gardening tool (a toothpick) and use it to loosen and level the top of each peat.  If there is excess netting, just peel it back and snip it off with scissors to expose the top of the peat.

Now, just put your seeds in each peat and lightly cover them with the loosened peat.  No need to plant them deeply, just enough to cover the seeds.

After all of the seeds have been planted, place the dome on top and then put the mini greenhouse in a warm location that is not in direct sunlight (on top of the fridge works pretty well).


As Tom Petty would say, the waiting is the hardest part.  Some seeds germinate quickly (a matter of days) and others can take weeks.

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