Planting and Germination - Chilli Pepper Gardening
3 - Planting and Germination
We here at PimentasOnline.com prefer to use plastic trays to start planting our seeds. These plastic trays are divided in cells and are used mostly if you need to cultivate in large scale. They have thin walls and holes on the bottom surface of each cell, which helps a lot to control temperature and humidity. This reduces the amount of water used on irrigation and optimizes the number of seeds you can use on small or limited regions. These trays are commonly sold in many different sizes and priced according to the number of cells they have.
Sometime we also use small clay vases instead plastic trays for varieties that we don’t usually plant in larger scale. But, if you only plan to start planting a very small amount of seed (for instance, less than 14), you can make yourself small homemade “vases” with newspaper sheet. This is very easy, quick way to start planting your seeds and can help you a lot through this first stage of your chili plants. Besides, you can even put your seedling and “newspaper vase” directly on the new vase or container you’re going to use on your first transplantation. Or, if you prefer, you can do the same that we do here at PimentasOnline: we take the newspaper vase off and put the seedling and ground it was planted in all together on the new vase or container. To create your own vase, just follow these steps:
1 – take a newspaper sheet and a small glass, which will be used as your mold and will help you on forming the shape of your small vase
2 - roll the newspaper sheet around the glass and bind the outside edge with adhesive tape:
3 - folder the newspaper sheet excess at the bottom until it wraps the glass and retain its shape. Cut any excess of paper if needed. Take the glass off and your small paper vase is ready to be used:
You can use earth prepared with humus or other organic composite normally used to fertilize the soil. Humus can be a great choice not only because it’s completely organic, but also is very helpful on controlling the soil pH level.
If you prefer or need to used plastic trays, be very careful with the irrigation process. These trays retain much more water and keep the soil moisturized for a longer time. That’s why it’s recommended to reduce the times you irrigate your seedlings while using plastic trays. Otherwise, you can seriously damage your seedlings roots due to the excess of water.
It’s also very important to clean and sterilize your plastic trays prior to their use. This helps avoid the appearing and spreading of fungus and any other disease, which can reproduce easily on warm and moist climates. If you have chosen to use soil with humus, it’s also recommended to sterilize this type of soil. The procedure is easy: place the soil on a glass tray or a platter and let it bake in the oven for half an hour under a temperature ranging between 180 to 200 celsius degrees. Most gardening shops or establishments sell already sterilized soil. You can take a look at our Classifieds for more contact information about companies selling related products and services. All this cleaning and sterilizing process is very important to remove any trace of damaging plants seed, fungus or small insects that can spread diseases and compromise your entire crop. Just be very careful on handling the heated soil! It stays warm for a very long time and can cause seriously damages. Be sure to wait until the soil is completely cooled before handling or using it.
Here in Brazil, it’s easier to grow chilis because most regions temperatures range between 23 to 30°C, most of the time. It’s really importante to place your trays or vases on an area with constante climate (temperature, humidity, etc.) which helps a lot on growing and taking care of your chili plants. Seeds that could take up to 12 days to germinate on a steady 23°C environment, can take several weeks to germinate on areas with lower temperatures.
Here a simple step by step on how to plant your seeds:
- fill you tray’s cells or vases with earth up to the top
- dig a very small hole with a depth of 10 to 15 millimeters, just wide enough to place your seed. You can use a toothpick or any small piece of wood you might have available
- place your seed inside the previously created hole and cover it with a thin soil layer. This will be enough to protect the seed from light. Only the seedling needs light (a lot of!) to grow up, not the seed itself.
- moist the soil slightly with lukewarm water and place your plastic tray or vases on the reserved area you have prepared for them. A greenhouse would be the ideal choice for a better temperature control and stability, which should remain constant at 27°C. If a greenhouse is not available, don’t worry, just place your tray or vases on an area without harsh climate changes, cold air and low temperatures. We strongly advise to place your tray or vase over a styrofoam platte with a thickness of 10 to 20 millimeters. This will be helpful to avoid the contact of your tray or vase with a cold surface or floor.
- moist the soil daily with lukewarm water if you’re using small vases and if your vases are kept on a dry environment. If you’re using plastic trays, you won’t need to this daily! As we have already mentioned, theses trays retain much more water than vases. You can irrigate your trays only 3 times a week. This is also recommended for vases, if they’re placed on a moistly environment.
HINT: always place your trays or vases where the first light of the day shines. This will help you a lot on controlling the temperature, keeping your seed warm most part of the day.
As soon as the seeds germinate, the first seedlings will show up:
They need a lot of light (mainly sunlight) to grow up. Without it, they’re growing process will be compromised. 12 to 14 hours of exposure are recommended, but not necessarily direct sunlight. Direct sunlight can damage your plants due to high temperatures. If you don’t have an area or place that can allow your plants to receive light most of the day, you can use artificial light normally used on greenhouses or even in terrariums. Don’t use regular lamps that can be dangerous to your plants.
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Next: 4 - Transplanting