Makin’ Habaneros – Part VIII: Planting!!!!
Now that we have everything to get started, we can start planting our seeds. This is very simple and there are not really any tricks to this.
I lay out my seed trays on a large table and pour a good lot of potting soil (I personally use in a large pile in the middle of the seed tray. You will be surprised at how much soil is used on each seed tray but it is generally about half a bag of potting soil. Then spread it out ensuring that all the cells are fill to the top. Make sure though that you can still see the “ribs” separating each cell. You will need to see these to know where to plant your seeds.
Now that all your trays are filled with potting soil, make one indentation with your finger in each cell. Only go a half an inch at the most.
Now, at this point, I use a chart that I have designed in Excel that shows each tray and each cell. I have a legend identifying what I put in each cell. This way I know what I have and can easily keep track of it.
If you want a copy of this chart, though it is quite simple to make one yourself, let me know and I will send it to you. It is currently set up for my 48 cell trays but I can add 36 and 72 cell versions if you want.
Most growers will recommend putting two or three seeds per cell and chose the strongest of the three when it comes time to cull the crop. This year, I have White Habaneros, Golden Habaneros and Spicy Mustard Habaneros, Pepperoncinis, and Bhut Jolokias. Each packet has at about 15 seeds. I have such a small amount of seeds of each type; I am ok taking my chances with the 15 plants of each variety I am going to get. If some don’t make it that is ok with me, I know that most will. I am hoping for at least a 90% germination rate, I got 99% last year and I got my seeds from the same source this year so I can be confident in my decision.
If you are confident in your seeds plant one seed per cell, if you are not, plant two or three. This can be quite expensive though if you are killing 2/3s of your purchase, where I get my seeds from generally cost me $5 per pack so that adds up pretty quickly.
In each of the little indentations, I place one seed. I then gently cover each seed with a bit of the surrounding soil. When all my seeds are planted and documented, I gently apply water to give the seeds the moisture that they require. Remember what I said in Part III? For a seed to become a plant it needs heat, sunlight, soil and water. A seed is always checking for these conditions, when the conditions are finally met, it starts to transform. At this stage however, the light is not required until the seed becomes a seedling with two leaves to start soaking up the light.
The next few weeks are very crucial to our plants. We need to ensure that the soil is moist (not wet), and that the seeds get heat. To keep the seeds moist I keep a spray bottle near the seed trays that is just filled with water. The spray is set to mist, anything more would disrupt the soil or hurt our little seedlings when they appear. If you received a clear top with your seed tray, you will only need to mist your seeds once a day, if not, you might need to do it twice or more. Make sure that the soil doesn’t dry up completely at this stage.
Keep the trays on a heat mat, on top of the refrigerator, or near a warm window. If everything is right, within 10 to 15 days (sometimes longer) you will start to see little seedlings emerge from the soil.
P.S. I don’t mind having 15 plants of each type of pepper. I get to keep a few for myself, but the rest I give to friends and family. You will be amazed at how quickly they go.