Itching to sow
If the gardening forums and groups I'm a member of are anything to go by, there's currently a massive well of enthusiasm to get going with the growing year, particularly from allotmenteers and veg growers. This enthusiasm is being thwarted because, well it is only February.
There is little to be gained by sowing too early, other than thin pale seedlings seeking out a share of inadequate sunlight. However, there is one saviour for the itchy-fingered grower - the chilli. With our unpredictable summers, there is a definite advantage to getting these heat-lovers going early.
Being just as keen as the next (wo)man, I've started mine off using a method I first tried last year to great effect. I've found some chilli seeds are tricky to germinate, particularly the hot 'scotch bonnet' types. This method seems pretty reliable with even these divas.
1. Make a bed of tin foil with a sheet of damp kitchen towel on top. Dot your seeds evenly over the top.
2. Wrap them into a flat envelope and leave somewhere warm. I use the airing cupboard.
3. Check daily after 7 days. Don't let them dry out. Most of mine took around 10 days to germinate. You'll see thin roots emerge.
4. Pot individually, handling carefully so as not to damage them. Leave in a warm, light place. You should get seedlings emerge in a few days.
Oh, and make sure you've got a supply of plant labels before you start sowing - I keep forgetting to buy some, so will be playing 'guess the chilli' come harvest time!
Thanks to Simply Seed for this method - it's one I'll be sticking to.