Chilli crop sheet

Activity

Learn how to grow this hot spicy fruit indoors from seed. Care must be taken when touching the fruit and for this reason it may not be a suitable crop for younger children to grow.

  • Estimated time: 30 minutes
  • Location: Indoors
  • School term: Early Autumn, Early Spring, Late Spring, Early Summer, Late Summer
  • Level of experience: No experience needed
  • Subject(s): English, Maths, Science

Learning objectives

  • Learn that plants are the source of many foods
  • Understand what plants need to grow
  • Practise seed sowing and other horticultural techniques

Preparation

Ensure you are using a suitable variety of chilli seeds. For example if you are short of space grow a compact variety. If you want to sell the plants on a certain date make sure you sow a variety that will be ready in time.

Equipment needed

  • Ideally a heated windowsill propagtor
  • Seed and multipurpose compost
  • Seeds
  • Seed tray and pots
  • Labels & pencil
  • Dibber

Step by step

Chilli peppers need warm conditions to grow in the UK. A heated propagator will provide the 18-25 Celsius required for germination. Depending on where you live you may be able to grow the mature plants outside during the warmest summer months, alternatively greenhouses and polytunnels have good chilli growing temperatures. Sow chilli seed from February to April, follow the instructions on the packet for each individual variety.

  1. Fill a half or quarter seed tray with seed compost; firm and level then water in.
  2. Sow the seed on the surface of the compost and cover with a thin layer of compost or vermiculite. Label the seed with the variety and date.
  3. Place in the propagator until the seeds germinate- this usually takes 7 or more days. Remember to keep the compost moist.
  4. Once the seeds develop their true leaves and are large enough to handle they can be pricked out  into 7.5cm pots.
  5. At this stage the seedlings can be taken out of the propagator and placed on a sunny windowsill away from draughts.
  6. Continue to grow on the plants, watering regularly, feeding with tomato fertilizer and potting on when required.
  7. In milder parts of the UK plant outside when the danger of frost has passed or put the plants in the greenhouse or polytunnel. Chilli flowers need to be pollinated so make sure pollinating insects can visit.
  8. Larger chilli plants require staking and pinching to keep them compact.

Hints & tips

  • If your chilli flowers haven't been pollinated by visiting insects, you could give them a helping hand by cross pollinating them with a fine paint brush.
  • Pinch out the growing tip of the chilli plant when it is young to encourage a bushy growth.
     

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