Congratulations on taking the steps to be a home gardener.
I generally sow my seeds in trays using seed raising mix. This gives them
a head start and you can control the amount of water they get in comparison
with growing in the garden. There are exceptions though. Carrots, radishes
and most root crops should be sown directly in the garden, they dont
The size of the seed determines how it is sown. Some seeds are barely
visible to the naked eye, this doesnt mean they arent any
good it just is what the plant produces. I have had several people email
me when they buy a bag of seeds that look like dust. They will grow.
Fine seeds should be scattered on the top of the seed raising mix and
left uncovered of soil.
Medium seeds should just have a fine covering of soil
Larger seeds should not be planted more than twice their diameter
Planting your seeds to deep may cause the germination to fail.
Keep your seed trays moist but not over watered, I use a spray bottle
with a fine mist to spray them. This helps to keep the soil moist not
wet, without disturbing the seeds. Never allow your seed tray to dry out
or become waterlogged
Seeds need heat to germinate so if you are sowing them in the colder months
I suggest covering your seed tray with a cover or plastic bag and keep
in a warm place.
When your seeds start to germinate you need to keep an eye out for slugs,
snails and other pests.
Dont attempt to grow your heat loving plants too early unless in
a heated area, i.e. Tomatoes, chilies, peppers, melons, and eggplant.
Every year about August I get so enthusiastic and want to start growing,
generally I have to restart again in spring because the cold ruined my
summer crops. Dont be impatient use this time to feed your garden,
give it lots of fertilizer, compost, manure, blood and bone or what ever
your secret ingredient is.
Planning your garden is important, making sure you plant thing that are
tall away from the smaller crops, as these will cause shade and prevent
the smaller crops getting the sun they need.
Make sure you know what type of space your plants need. Check if your
tomatoes are compact bush type, large plants or vines. All these things
are important when planting your garden.
There are many pests that love your veges more than you do and can strip
a plant as quickly as they grow. I dont use any chemicals in my
garden and make my own pests sprays and fertilizers ( see my hints and
Some seeds are better if they are soaked before planting this aids germination.
Some seeds are best put in the freezer before sowing as they require freezing
temps to aid germination.
When sowing carrots I put a tsp of ground coffee granules( not powder)
to every tsp of carrot seed, this not only helps spread out your carrots
but the carrot grub in the soil does not like the smell of the coffee
and will leave your carrots alone.
If you are short of space, sow carrots and radishes together as the radishes
grow very quickly and act as a thinner for the carrots
Sowing Directly Outside
Beans are sub-tropical in origin, and for this reason need a minimum soil
temperature of 16°C (60°F). If unprotected, French Beans are in
all cases damaged by even one degree of frost. Where the seedlings have
appeared above the soil surface and a late unexpected frost strikes, it
is best to remove them and sow more seeds in their place.
Using a trowel, dig out drills 5cm (2in) deep and 30cm (1ft) apart - where
more than two rows are being planted, allow sufficient space between every
second row to allow you cultivate and harvest them - 1m (3ft) should be
Beans have a germination rate of approximately 75% and for this reason
should be sown thinly, one seed every 15cm (6in), to be thinned out to
a final spacing of one seedling every 30cm (1ft) about 3 weeks after sowing.
To be doubly sure, sow several seeds at the end of the row for filling
in any spaces where the seed has failed to come up in the row. After sowing,
water the bed well if conditions are at all dry
Growing Chilis and Peppers
All peppers grow on 1 1/2 to 2-ft.-tall handsome, bushy plants. Use plants
as temporary low informal hedge, or grow and display them in containers.
The two basic kinds of peppers are sweet and hot.
Sweet peppers always remain mild, even when flesh ripens to red. This
group includes big stuffing and salad peppers commonly known as bell peppers,
best known of these are 'California Wonder' and 'Yolo Wonder'. Hybrid
varieties have been bred for early bearing, high yield, or disease resistance.
Big peppers are also available in bright yellow and purple (purple types
turn green when cooked). Other sweet types are thick-walled, very sweet
pimientos used in salads or for cooking or canning; sweet cherry peppers
for pickling; and long, slender -Italian frying peppers and Hungarian
sweet yellow peppers, both used for cooking.
Hot peppers range from tiny (pea-size) types to narrow, 6-7-in.-long forms,
but all are pungent, their flavor ranging from the mild heat of Italian
peperoncini to the near-incandescence of the 'Habanero'. 'Anaheim' is
a mild but spicy pepper used for making canned green chilies. 'Long Red
Cayenne' is used for drying; 'Hungarian Yellow Wax (Hot)', 'Jalapeno',
and 'Fresno Chile Grande' are used for pickling. Mexican cooking utilizes
an entire palette of peppers, among them 'Ancho', 'Mulato', and 'Pasilla'.
These need heat they love warm soil and heat , sow seed indoors 8-10 weeks
before average date of last frost. Set out when weather becomes warm,
spacing plants 11/-2 ft. apart. Feed once or twice with commercial fertilizer
after plants become established, before blossoms set. Sweet peppers are
ready to pick when they have reached good size but keep their flavor until
red ripe. Pimientos should be picked only when red-ripe. Pick hot peppers
when they are fully ripe. Control aphids, whiteflies with all-purpose
vegetable garden dust or spray.
Growing Chillis - the recipe for success
Starting the Seeds: Chilli seeds germinate at soil temperatures of, 20
- 35C with 30C ideal. Plant the seeds in a moist, not wet sterile potting
medium in pots or flats - 1mm deep and - 2mm apart and cover with plastic
at least 8 and preferably 10 weeks before the last frost date for your
area. Water should be boiled to sterilize it and if it comes from a public
water system should sit for a day prior to sterilization to allow chlorine
to dissolve. Once the seedlings are up, remove the plastic cover, but
do not let the soil dry out. If the seedlings are allowed to wilt, they
may not die, but their growth will be set back. Some of these seeds take
a long time to germinate, but they should do so using these instructions.
Transplanting: When the first true leaves (pointed) reach 3/8" to
1/2" wide the seedlings can be transplanted to bigger pots. Soil
temperatures should be kept to a minimum of 18 C for fastest growth. Most
good potting soils contain some nutrients, but a good non-burning liquid
high phosphorous fertilizer can improve root growth which is most important
at this stage. Apply according to package directions about once a week.
Phosphorous is the middle number between Nitrogen and Potassium.
Hardening Off and Setting Out: About two weeks prior to planting in the
garden, begin hardening the plants gradually increasing the amount of
sunlight and wind which they are exposed to. Any good gardening book will
explain more about this procedure. Before transplanting, be sure that
the soil temperature is at least 17 C. If it is not that high, the blossoms
will drop and you'll get leaves, but no chillis. When transplanting from
containers, there will be some root damage which will slow the plants,
so try to be as careful as possible. If cutworms are a problem in your
area, a paper cup with the bottom cut out, placed around the stem about
1/2" into the ground should protect the stem. Fertilize with high
quality fertilizer. We like to use a balanced one like 15-15-15.
Growing and Harvesting: Now that your chilli plants are in the garden,
keep them watered, fertilized, protected from the wind, but getting lots
of sunshine. Keep a lookout for pests. The major pests we've encountered
are aphids, and they can build up rapidly. You can try organic controls
such as liquid dish soap and water, or spray with a chemical such as Diazanon
solution only when you see a build-up. Remember to follow label directions
and don't harvest until the proper number of days after spraying. The
Diazanon label says five (5) days for chillis. You can harvest your chillis
when they are green, but they're so much prettier if you wait until they
turn to orange or red or yellow or brown.
Growing Indoors: Chillis are actually perennials, which are usually grown
as annuals. This year we intend to grow our chillis which we will move
indoors for the winter in pots so we won't have to transplant them in
the autumn. Chillis which are moved indoors often lose their leaves. We
now have enough information from other gardeners to believe that chillis
may be deciduous. Some of them grow as big as trees and maybe they just
lose their leaves like oak trees.
GOOD LUCK AND HAPPY HOT STUFF!