Yesterday (Thurs 23 Feb) was "National Chilli Day". Don't ask me who decided this! It seemed like an auspicious day on which to sow chilli seeds. However, my plans were thwarted by Storm Doris, and it was just too windy to venture outside to fill pots with compost, so I left it 24 hours.
Despite the short delay, the task got done today. First job was to bring the Growlight House in from the garage, clean it, and get it set up in the spare bedroom.
It is now nearly 4 years since I got this item, and I realised that the little black rubber "washers" that are used to position the moveable light part at the correct height on the uprights had perished and fallen off. This could have been a disaster if one or both had given way once there were seedlings underneath. In the absence of any spares I used some thick general-purpose rubber bands as substitutes. [I know I am not the only person to have had this problem, so if you own one of these things, I recommend you check the state of the washers on yours too.]
Having got the Growlights sorted out it was time to get sowing. My method is to sow the seeds in little pots of moist compost and keep them on the floor of the warm airing-cupboard until germination takes place. The temperature in there is about 22 - 25 degrees Celsius most of the time.
Chilli seeds germinate at many different rates, dependent on variety and temperature, so it is important to keep checking after the first 2 or 3 days. I usually check mine at least twice a day, and bring out into the light any that have germinated. At this stage they go into the Growlight House.
If you have an unsophisticated Growlight House like mine it's worth investing in a simple timer device like this one.
I have set mine initially to give the plants 14 hours of light per day (and therefore an 10-hour "night"). Keeping the lights on permanently is not a good idea, because the plants need to learn about days and nights before they go outside later in the year. In any case, if they are in light all the time they may become thin and leggy because they grow too fast.
Having only just sown my seeds, I have no seedlings to show you yet, so I'll just list the varieties I have decided to grow this year. It was a tough choice, I can tell you, especially since several of my friends had kindly sent me even MORE chilli seeds! For better or worse, these are the ones that "made the cut":-
Ring of Fire
Redfields Long Red
Some of those names are of course nicknames, helping me to identify ones whose official identity I don't know.
In view of the above, and considering that I believe that a few of my over-wintered mature plants will survive, I should end up with somewhere in the region of 20 - 25 plants. I will of course keep you posted on progress!