Growing hot peppers
If you've had trouble getting tomatoes started from seed, peppers are worse. I have found them to be the hardest plant to get going.
They need a long time to go from sprouting seed to being large enough to transplant outside. Here in zone 4, that means starting really early, in midwinter. January is not too soon. February at the latest.
They also love heat, especially when it's time to get them sprouting. Heat? In Jan/Feb in Vermont?
I handle this by putting the seeds in a small, sealed plastic bag that contains moist potting soil and a few seeds. The bag is placed on top of my oil furnace for a couple of weeks. That room is generally around 80 degrees F even in winter. (I've considered putting them under the wood stove, but it doesn't run all day. It is left to cool down so that I can remove ashes before restarting the fire, so that spot wouldn't be as consistently warm as the oil furnace.)
I've still struggled to get the pepper plants to grow after sprouting. I can either put them in the dark, warm furnace room, or under lights in a much cooler room across the hall. I thought the cool temp would be a problem, but now that I have much brighter grow lights installed, they seem to grow there (if a bit slowly).
Here is the result in early May:
On the left we have mild Ancho peppers, in the middle medium Santa Fe peppers, and on the right hot Bubba Joe peppers. All three are available in a single tri-pack from Renee's Gardens.
The very large peppers on the right were started a couple of weeks earlier than the others. Most of these plants, including the small Bubba Joe plants tucked under the large ones, are from the second batch. I didn't have very many Ancho seeds, so there are only two of those plants, but there are plenty of Santa Fe and several Bubba Joe.
I am really looking forward to having my own fresh hot peppers this year, and will try saving some of the seeds for next year. Don't give up on growing your own!
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