Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Getting Peppers to Germinate Faster

I know I said it last week, but what a difference a year makes in the weather. Last year most of the fruit trees were flowering and many of the hardwoods were budding. Some of the shrubs had full leaves by now. Granted, that was early and a bit freakish, but this year is the polar opposite. It is snowing and we have a “special weather statement” for snow. Will winter ever let go?

On a better note, it’s been a week since my poblano experiment began, and I’m happy to say that we have germination! I’ve read about the paper towel/plastic bag trick many places before, but I’ve never tried it. Well, after falling in love with poblano peppers at the inopportune time of mid-March, I needed a way to get them jumpstarted quickly for this year’s garden. Luckily, the old paper towel method was simple and effective.

The flash makes this look like foil but it's just a paper towel inside of a plastic bag
If you’re not familiar with the trick, it’s pretty simple. I’m not really sure it qualifies as a “trick” but given the eternity it usually takes my peppers to germinate I’m calling it that. I began by soaking a paper towel with warm water. Then, I placed 10 poblano seeds in between the moistened layers of towel and folded it over. I placed the damp paper towel in a plastic bag, labeled it, and set it on top of our Bunn coffee pot (which is always warm). One week later… presto! We have 2-3 seeds with shoots starting and the rest are swollen and look read to pop. Cable boxes, tops of refrigerators, and other warm spots would work just as well. 

We have sprouts!
Next up is planting them in seed starting mix, which I did today. Interestingly, they will be caught up with many of the peppers that I planted back in February, which are just starting to sprout now. I think it’s the cold in the back room where the seedlings are that kept them dormant for so long. The poblanos had just barely sprouted, so they aren’t above the dirt yet, but I know they are well on their way. I suppose I could have waited a day or two longer, but I’ve never tried this and I didn’t want the seedlings to die in the plastic bag.

They've lost most of their purple hue (the leaves were very dark and almost purple last week!)
Speaking of the cold, I ended up turning off the fan for now. Not only were seeds taking forever to germinate, but the tomato seedlings were turning purple. If that happens, don’t despair: they are just chilly. Once the environment gets warmer they’ll turn green and happy once more (mine have already lost their purple hue so I don’t have a picture). It doesn’t take long, and it doesn’t have any long-term effect on the plants they will turn into later.

Until next time, happy gardening!

1 comment:

  1. My earliest memory of growing plants is in 2nd grade when the class assignment was exactly this with a bean. Only instead of a Bunn coffee maker, we were instructed to place the "package" in our dresser drawer. :)