Monday, March 5, 2012

Starting Pepper Seeds

There's nothing filled with more hope and promise than the germination of a singular seed.  Spring is just a few short weeks away, and I am entrenched in the process of seed starting.  For a week now, my pepper seeds have been safely nestled in peat pots, as I anxiously await any sign that the seed is about to burst open with new life. 

I have tried a variety of seed starting methods over the past few years and by far, my favorite home for tiny seedlings is the Jiffy Seed Starting Peat Pellet.  I'll admit that part of my fancy with these pellets lies in my fascination as they balloon up to full-sized "pots" from a tiny, thin pellet.  So cool!  These pellets are practical, too.  I can very easily bottom water to keep them moist without disturbing the growing seedlings.  Now, it is necessary to obtain a container to set the wet pellets in, lest they drip water everywhere.  I have found that Styrofoam egg cartons are most efficient.  Not only do they cradle the pellets, preventing them from tipping or bumping one another, but they resist mold growth (unlike their cardboard brethren).  When I need to water my pellets, I soak them in an old 9x9 baking pan. 

This year, I am starting 12 each of Bull Nose and Lipstick peppers.  Last year I had terrible germination rates, so my expectations are low.  I will be thrilled if six of each kind produce tiny seedlings.  Last year, I hovered over my trays of seedlings for 15 days, searching for any sign that tiny life would be imminently emerging from the dormant seed.  Not one pepper from that batch germinated.  I started another small set in late March and got around 60 percent germination, but the peppers grew slowly and did not get as big as I had hoped before it was time to set them out in the garden.  I had to surround them with stakes to prevent the wind from carrying them away.
So here I am, starting week 2, and anxiously awaiting signs of germination...

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