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In Italy, it is ideal to start sowing when temperatures do not go below 15°, a period that can, therefore, vary from north to south. We recommend creating a suitable habitat. Usually, seeds are germinated inside a greenhouse in February - March - April - May* in order to follow the normal rhythms of the season and have sure results.
Important: if you are not an expert, we recommend germinating the seeds with the paper towel method in large plastic table glasses because, in this way, the water evaporates slowly, preventing the seeds from drying out (MOST COMMON MISTAKE FOR BEGINNERS). In fact, in the growth phase, the shoots are very delicate and suffer from the low temperatures as well as the dehydration due to the lack of water.
After 5-15 days depending on the variety of chilli, you will see small white radicles emerge from the seeds. Wait a few more days for them to take root in the paper. Once the sprout can support itself, you can possible to remove it very gently, being careful not to damage the newly formed roots. You can use a toothpick to help. In the image below you can see the various growth stages. Once at photo 3, you can gently plant them. (Note that the white hair that forms at the base is not mold but extensions of the roots that disappear by watering them)
At this point, we can start transplanting by placing the roots in a pot or a container with good soil. You want to support the bud on a window sill with light, but be careful: no direct sunlight and the soil must always be moist in this delicate period of the plant's life. Once the plant has reached 10cm in height, you can expose it to the sun gradually.
Well, we have overcome the most delicate moment of the seedling. Now we can plant it in a large vase in the garden or on the balcony and wait for the season to take its course and for the spicy and tasty fruits to ripen.
A second, non-mandatory tip is to clean the seeds to avoid mold from developing. The procedure is very simple. On the second day of germination, remove the seeds from the paper towel and clean them gently removing any pepper residue. We chose to clean the seeds on the second day because the impurities soften overnight and allow for gentle removal.
*Do not leave the seeds to germinate in the air. Instead, cover them with a layer of paper towels to keep the right humidity.
*Buy more seeds than the plants you want to grow. Mistakes are always around the corner.
*If you make a mistake during your first attempts, do not get discouraged, just correct the mistakes!
(Discover the best seeds of the most beautiful and spiciest varieties at the following link: chilli seeds)
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But even before preparing the habitat for our peppers we have to get some simple essential things: chilli seeds, a pot or a garden where to grow the plants, top quality soil, an area exposed to sunlight, lots of water (decreasing the amount of water in the hours before harvesting can increase the spice), sand and peat.
We recommend keeping a thermometer handy to ensure that the temperature does not drop too much, especially at night, (and to have good air circulation.) Only in indoor cultivation.
But let's talk about sowing now. Once you have found the place where you want to sow, just plant the seed an inch under the surface of the soil and moisten it as much as possible without watering too much. In fact, with too much water you run the risk of rotting the seeds. The most common species germinate in about a week with stable temperatures that hang around 20°. We have prepared a category dedicated to selling chilli seeds.
In colder climates, a germination method well-known to many is used. It is the so-called
paper towel method: the seeds are placed in pieces of paper towels, moistened, and then placed in a closed jar with holes in the cap, so as to let air through. There isn't need for much light, but there is for heat. The higher the temperature, the lower the waiting time. By using chamomile, the germination time is further reduced. You can use it to moisten the paper towels instead of water. Once the first leaves have appeared, the seed can be put in the soil, and more light is needed; otherwise, the plant may grow too weak and will not be able to support its own weight, bending over itself and dying. For further information: In-depth guide on how to plant hot peppers with the paper towel method
Regular soil is no good for chillies. It is recommended you use pre-fertilized soil. You can add liquid fertilizer that contains a low level of nitrogen and a high level of potassium and phosphorus. It is also advisable to mix a little clay with the soil, especially on the bottom of the pot, so as to encourage water drainage and avoid stagnation which, as previously mentioned, may cause mold. We have made available the following guide: How to prepare the soil for chillies
During growth, the seedling will take a Y shape. If you want, you can remove the extra sprigs that grow at the base of the seedling, or you can remove only the dried ones, but always leave a cm of the branch. Be careful not to water the plant too much. Water it only when the soil is dry, preferably at the end of the day when the sun's rays weaken to avoid the effect produced by water on the leaves that in a few days can burn them.
If the temperature is very high, the soil will tend to dry out, and it is good to move it around occasionally with a fork and water late in the evening. The plant will grow very quickly. For this reason, it is better to tie it to a brace, such as a simple rod. For those interested, we have dedicated a category to selling chilli plants.
Often the question posed to us by our customers is the following: is it mandatory to fertilize chilli plants? Our answer is: no! Plants do not always have to be fertilized, but they must be in a ground or soil that is rich in nutrients. A poor substrate will grow a short, small, and not very productive plant if you are lucky. If it cannot develop properly due to lack of nourishment, it will not yield fruit, a bitter disappointment after months of watering. We at semipeperoncino.it recommend above all a rich soil in nutrients for which plants go "crazy" we have created organic fertilizers designed to ensure the proper nutrition, our products are slow-release, in this way you will have the plant fertilized for a whole month. The fertilizer as we said is not mandatory at the beginning, but if used correctly will make the plant grow faster and give you a must larger plant, which at the end of summer will give you many big, beautiful, and tasty peppers, perfect for seasoning pasta dishes that will leave everyone's mouth watering.
We have selected these articles concerning this topic:
Fertilizer for growth
Fertilizer for flowering
Another enemy of the chilli, like many other plants, are aphids. Ladybugs are greedy for these parasites, and we can attract them by growing near our chillies other plants that attract them, such as fennel, carrots, dandelion, and speedwells. Or we can remove them with castile soap, the scent of which removes the aphids. Dilute a handful of soap with 10 liters of water and spray it on the plants when they have reached 10 cm in height. In this guide, we have brought together every kind of diseases and parasite you might encounter and the remedies for neutralizing them: All the diseases and pests of chillies.
As time passes, you can admire white flowers blossoming, followed by chillies, which you can harvest in the fall.
The chili must be opened with a knife (we highly recommend the use of latex gloves) and you must extract the seeds, which can be dried and should be stored in a dark, dry place.
As for the drying the chilli pepper itself, it should be placed in the oven at 70° for about 40 minutes, so as to evaporate the moisture. After 40 minutes you have to expose them to the sun for a few days, after which they are ready to be stored or used! In-depth article: How to collect and store chilli seeds.
If you want to grow chillies in your home (indoor) you can read the following guide: