Editors Blog – 2018 Peppers – Sowing Techniques

By: Dan Hagan - Managing Editor

sowing peppers

Here at Zone9Garden.com we have historically used 3 different techniques to sow our hot peppers.  In 2018 we are using all 3, one of them for the last time!  Here are the 3 ways we like to get our peppers started:

Pot Strips

The most tried and true technique that I use to sow pepper seeds is by planting them in Pot Strips that are kept inside 6 qt. containers.

I have always like to use pot strips that have 10 pots on them.  I like the ones made out of fiber more than plastic because I can cut them apart if needed much easier than the plastic versions.

This year I used a Coconut fiber seed starting mix  for the first time (see peat pots bellow for the reason).  I fill the pot strips to the top with the seed starting mix, press a 1/4″ indent in the center and drop in 1 or 2 seeds (depending on how many seeds I have on hand).  I make sure to carefully and thoroughly water the pots and place them inside a 6 qt. container (about the size of shoe box).

After the pot strips are placed in the container, I pour a small amount of water in the bottom and wrap the top of the container with cling wrap.  Make sure to leave a small gap to allow for oxygen and CO2 to pass.  Once the cling wrap is on, the container is placed on top of a heat mat to keep the seeds warm until the germinate.

Peat Pots

Over the years I have tried, with varying success, to use peat pots as a seed starting vessel.  This year was not a good year, and will probably be my last attempt at using peat pots.

One of the main reasons I have tried Peat Pots multiple times is because I like the idea of never having to pull the rooots of a plant out of a container for transplanting.  But the down side, and it was a big one this year, is the peat pots retain a lot of moisture and can grow mold.  ALL the pots I used this year developed mold and it negatively affected some of the Bell Pepper seedlings that were in them.

Paper Towel Method

The paper towel method is a technique that will speed up the germination of hot pepper seeds and can help increase the percentage of germination.  All that is needed is a paper towel, water, a squirt bottle and a Ziploc type baggie.  Here is how we do it at Zone9Garden.com

  1. Label Ziploc type bag with seed type and date.
  2. Spread out paper towel
  3. Lightly spray the entire paper towel until damp but not soaking wet
  4. Lay hot pepper seeds with about 1″ spacing between seeds on half the paper towel
  5. Fold the half that does not have any seeds on top of the seeds
  6. Place the towel with the seeds inside the baggie
  7. Seal the baggie, leaving about 1/2″ gap to allow air to move
  8. Store in a warm, dark area
  9. Check every day
  10. When “tails” are visible on the seeds (the seedling beginning to break through the shell) it is time to transplant them

Transplanting Technique

  1. Prep container with a high quality organic potting soil (We recommend organic for seedlings, even if you are not an organic gardener, because it helps prevent over fertilization burning)
  2. Water the soil
  3. Press a hole about 1/2″ wide and 1/2″ deep
  4. Cut the paper towel carefully around the seed and its tail, making  not to cut the tail (the micro roots can bind to the paper towel so it is best to not pull the seed from the towel)
  5. Place the seed in the soil
  6. Cover gently
  7. Keep warm

After a few days the seedling should be visible and growth will continue on as normal from this point.

Heat Source

For many pepper seeds it is vital to keep their germination medium (the soil) around 80-87 degrees.  If the soil is not warm the seeds will either not germinate or will germinate VERY slowly.  We use iPower Seedling Heat Mat (This is a link to Amazon, we my be compensated if you purchase anything from this link) under all of our seed germination set ups.   Ours stays between 81-83 degrees and we have a fairly high germination percentage.

Thats all for today

Well that is all I have for today.  These are the techniques that we use here to germinate our hot peppers.  If you have any questions, PLEASE feel free to join our Facebook Group:  Zone 9 Gardening


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