Berlin Balcony Jungle Project 2013 – Grow Log & Guide: Germination

I just started work on my 2013 hot pepper growing season. And since I am going to document it on this blog, anyway, I thought I’d make it a step-by-step growing guide for those of you looking for some directions on how to go about. So today I’ll show you a way of kicking things off. Please do note that all info I supply here is based on my own experience and research – there certainly are other ways to grow pepper plants, but this is how I do it.

When you’re growing chillis from seeds, your first mission is to get the seeds to germinate. Peppers originally grow in hot and tropical climates, so they naturally need heat and moisture in order to start germination. If you (like me) live somewhere in the northern hemisphere of the world, you will need some items that’ll help you to supply these conditions. You can easily obtain all this stuff from your local gardening-center or online. Here’s what you ought to have ready when starting off:

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Top row left to right: shot cups, plastic container, jiffy pellets, plastic strips

Bottom row left to right: propagator (mini greenhouse), heatmat, seeds

So the first thing you’ll need are some good seeds. There are loads of suppliers that you can mail-order them from. I’ve listed some I like and recommend in the sidebar. If you’re uncertain as to which varieties to choose out of the thousands that there are, you might want to check out some reviews on blogs or on Youtube. Again, I’ve listed some reviewers who I like to watch and read in the sidebar, so this might be a good starting point for your own research. To see which varieties I’ve been growing in 2012 and which ones I will be growing in 2013, please click here.

Once you’ve gotten your seeds and your other gear together, it’s time to prepare the seeds for planting. Germination will start once enough moisture has gotten into the seeds. So in order to speed up the process, you soak the seeds in warm water for about 20 – 30 minutes. Fill the shot cups with warm water and drop up to 3 seeds of one variety into one of the cups. Use the plastic strips to tag each of the cups with the name of pepper variety you’ve put into it – otherwise it’s going to be difficult to remember which is which later on.

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Seeds soaking in shot cups filled with warm water, tagged with plastic strips.

While the seeds are soaking, you can now prepare the jiffy pellets. They’re made from dried, compressed coco-fibres so you need to re-hydrate them before using them as a growing-medium. Fill the plastic container with warm water and throw in some of the pellets. They will start to soak up the water which will make them swell up and rise quite a bit.

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Jiffy pellets soaking in plastic container.

Once all that is done, you’re ready for planting your seeds. Take a re-hydrated jiffy pellet and give it a gentle squeeze so it loses the excess water. It ought to be moist but not soaking wet (this will help to reduce the risk of moulding in the propagator later on). Each jiffy has a prepared planting hole. So you could plant only one seed per jiffy but especially when you’re growing a larger number of varieties, this would use up quite some space in the propagator. That’s why I put 3 seeds into one pellet. One seed goes into the prepared planting hole. For the other two, I make separate holes (each about 0.5 cm deep) using the tip of one of the plastic strips. Once you’re done with that, place the jiffy and the according tag into the propagator.

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Re-hydrated jiffy pellets with seeds and tags.

Ideally, chillis will germinate at temperatures between 25 to 32 degrees Celsius. So you need to crank up the heat a wee bit now. Place the propagator onto the heatmat and mount the lid. If your propagator has ventilation slots, keep them closed so a moist and warm climate can build up on the inside of the propagator. Once a day, you should lift the lid for a minute and wipe off all condensed water. This will help to prevent mould which is one of the biggest threats during germination time.

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Closed propagator placed on heat-mat.

If you’ve done all that, it is now time for patience. Chillis are notoriously a bit reluctant to get going – some might germinate within a few days, others might take up to four weeks. So don’t get nervous and don’t fiddle around if you do not see anything happening for the first week or so.

I’ll be back with a new blog-post soon. Then I’ll show you how to go on once the baby plants have popped.

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Filed under BBJP 2013, Grow guide, Grow-Log, Text

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