seed starter tray

Growing Peppers From Seeds, Part 2

I got a little carried away describing some different pepper seeds for different climates in my previous growing peppers from seeds post.  So now let’s talk about the actual planting process.

What You Need

You’ll need the following to plant your pepper seeds.  I germinate mine indoors, and then transplant them a little later.  So here’s how to plant the seeds indoors, followed by directions for sowing seeds directly outdoors.

For indoors you will need:

  • 3-ounce Dixie cups or windowsill seed starter tray.
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  • Spoon.
  • Waterproof container to hold the cups (not needed if you are using the seed starter tray).
  • Seed-starting soil or peat cylinders (comes with the seed starter tray).
  • Hand sprayer that sprays a very fine mist of water.
  • Scissors (if using Dixie cups).
  • Seed packet(s).

Optional

  • Labels to mark the pepper variety, plus a marker with waterproof ink.

Getting the Containers Ready

First, get the container(s) (Dixie cups or seed starter tray) ready with the soil, then dampen the soil.  If you are using the Dixie cups, use the scissors to cut 4 small holes towards the bottom of the cups, for drainage.  If you are using the seed starter tray, soak the peat cylinders in water according to the directions.

I like to use a small spoon to get the seed-starting soil into the Dixie cups.

If you are planting several varieties of seeds (which is what I like to do), you may want to label your containers with the varieties.  You can use the waterproof markers and labels for the Dixie cups, or sketch a simple diagram of the windowsill seed starter tray.
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Planting the Pepper Seeds

Once the soil or cylinders are damp. place the seeds in the cups/cylinders.  I tend to plant 3 seeds in each Dixie cup, thinning to the strongest if they all germinate.  Follow the directions as to number of seeds for the seed starting tray.

For the Dixie cups, you then want to place a fine layer of soil over the seeds.  Don’t make it too deep, or the seeds will lose their strength just trying to get above ground.

When you are done planting, spray a fine mist of water over the soil.  If you’re using the Dixie cups, put them in a waterproof container.

Then put some water at the bottom of the seed starter tray or the waterprood container.  You want to water from below, to encourage the tiny plants to grow their roots deep instead of shallow.  But be careful not to drown them!  You want the soil damp, not wet.

You’re done!  Now put the tray or container in a spot where it will be warm.  When the seeds start to germinate, move them to somwhere where they will get plenty of indirect sun, or under grow lights.

Growing Peppers by Sowing Outside

It’s actually fairly simple to sow directly outside, but you must wait until all danger of frost is past, and the soil needs to be at least 60 degrees warm.  Pick a sunny spot where the pepper plants will get plenty of sun.

Your biggest job will be preparing the soil outside.  You want it loose enough so that the peppers can poke their heads above soil easily, but with enough nutrients to keep them going.

When I planted my peppers outside, I put plenty of compost and cow manure into the soil, then thoroughly mixed it to a depth of 6 inches.  Depending on your soil, you may or may not need a tiller to help you with this.  Dampen the soil when you are done; you want it moist, not wet.

Once your soil is prepared, plant your seeds about 18 inches apart.  I like to plant three seeds in each set, then thin to the strongest one.

Cover the seeds with a fine layer of seed-starting soil, which makes it easier for the young plants to poke their heads above ground once they geerminate.  Mist with a sprayer until the soil is damp over the seeds.

And Now the Hard Part

The hardest part is waiting for the seeds to germinate.  I’ve had them take as few as 5 days to as long as 3 weeks, and different varieties take different lengths of time to germinate.  Just be patient and keep the soil moist.

There you go — planting your pepper seeds!  If you’d like more detail on planting seeds of any kind, one book I like a lot is The New Seed Starter’s Handbook. Very detailed, you’ll be growing your own garden from seed in no time!