Chile peppers are actually the fruit of the plant, having originated in the Americas. High in vitamins A, B and B6, chilies are considered as vegetables (bell peppers) and spices (cayenne) in cooking, chili peppers are also prized as a medicine. Part of the human diet since at least 7500 BC (Wikipedia), archaeological evidence shows cultivation more than 6000 years ago.
Chilis Love Heat and Sunshine
Many varieties of sweet and hot peppers thrive on full sun, warm weather, well-drained soil and modest fertility.
Starting Chili Pepper Seeds
Start: Seeds or Seedlings
Germination: 7 to 10 days, 70 to 95 degrees Fahreinheit
Seed Life: 2 years
Planting Chili Peppers
Soil: Well Drained
Sunlight: Full Sun
Seeds: 1/4" deep in flats
Seedlings: 12" to 24" apart
Days to Harvest: 65 to 95 days
Sowing Chili Pepper Seeds Indoors
Using flats or seed pots, try making your own recycled newspaper seed pots (Create a Seed-Starting Pot from Recycled Newspaper), plant your seeds 1/4" deep. Begin this process 8 to 10 weeks before you plan on transplanting outside in your garden. Your seeds will not germinate below 55 degrees Fahrenheit, so keep your plants warm in a sunny location. Seeds germinate best with a soil temperature higher than 80 degrees Fahrenheit.
Ready to Transplant Your Chili Pepper Seedlings
To help harden your chili pepper seedlings and reduce the shock of transplanting reduce the water amount and keep your plants between 60 and 65 degrees Fahreinheit for a few days. You want to transplant your seedlings 2 to 3 weeks after the last frost to ensure the weather has settled and the soil has warmed up. Plant your chili pepper seedlings 12 to 24 inches apart, in rows 24 to 36 inches apart, or spaced about 14 to 16 inches apart in raised beds.
Use a phosphorous fertilizer instead of a nitrogen based fertilizer to encourage more fruit. A nitrogren fertilizer will promote vegetative growth, but reduce the amount of fruit that is produced.
Harvesting Chili Peppers
Wear gloves when harvesting to protect your hands and eyes from the potent chemical that makes peppers hot. Avoid touching your face when handling peppers and wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water – be sure to clean under your fingernails as well.
Cut off chili fruits when they are full size or the color that you want with a sharp knife or pruning shears.
Chili Lover's Pack of Seeds from Heirloom Organics
Anaheim (100 seeds) – Also known as New Mexican peppers, these are a medium-hot variety that is a major component of Southwestern cooking.
Anchos (100 seeds) – Dinstinctinvely heart shaped and generally mild, Anchos are also known as Poblanos.
Long Slim Cayenne (100 seeds) – Typically dried and crushed, Cayenne is used to add heat on noodles, pizza or in hot sauces.
Orange Habanero (30 seeds) – One of the hottest peppers, use gloves when handling, this pepper produces high yeilds in 90 days. Harvest when it's a bright orange color.
Early Jalapeno (100 seeds) – Dark olive green fruit that turns red at maturity. Produces a continuous yield of peppers.
Serrano (100 seeds) – Abundant small fruts ripen from dark green to deep crimson. This is one of the hottest peppers available. Again , use gloves when handling to protect yourself from the potent oils.