I am going to start my peppers from seed this year and was wondering when should I start them. Normally I would plant the transplants I bought in early June.
I usually plant my pepper seeds 8-10 weeks before I plan to plant them outside.
I give peppers three months from planting inside to planting in the garden. Peppers are slower to germinate than some other vegetables, so I allow for more time for them to come up. I think if you started them sometime around late March-early April they should be good, sturdy plants ready to go into the garden by early June.
Don't forget to harden them off. When plants are moved from protected conditions inside to the garden, they need a week or two of gradual exposure. I put our seedlings out in the shade and protected from the wind on a long table. I bring them in at night, or at least into the workshop where they are protected, then put them out in the morning. I gradually move the table into morning sun/afternoon shade, and then into full sun for the last four or five days. Then the plants are acclimated and ready to meet garden soil. This is a long-winded answer to a concise question!
The only thing I would add is that when Marlin says "long" about germinating time, it can be weeks! It can also be faster than that, depending on the type of pepper, but I remember almost throwing out my seeds the first time I tried sprouting a cayenne variety! Do a search over in the Hot Peppers Forum if you want more info. There's all sorts of great stuff about growing peppers there. But be careful, because apparently it can be addicting... :)
I found that if you put a heat mat under the peppers, they will germinate quicker.
Last year I started mine about 8 weeks before the last frost as well - and didn't plant them out until a week after the last frost.
Without the heat mat, it took two weeks for the peppers to germinate. With the heat mat, it took a few days less.
Here is a link that might be useful: BsnTech Gardening Blog
When starting peppers one must take into consideration a few different factors.
1. What species of pepper are you starting.? Some species grow faster than others, so to get them to the right transplant size you must must start them earlier than the others. One example is the chinense species, they are very slow growers so i start those the beginning of Jan. where annuums grow very fast so start them later, I started mine last week.
2. Aside from fast and slow growing plants one must consider how much lighting one has. If you do not have a lot of room under your lights to grow plants in the 12 to 15 inch range than you need to start your plants later regardless of what type they are.
3. The last thing i can think of is how long it usually takes a specific variety to germinate. I have had some seeds of wild varieties of peppers that took 8 weeks to germinate.
My plants go in the garden the 1st of June. Hope this helps.
Here is a link that might be useful: podpiper's pics
I started mine 8 weeks before putting them out in the garden. I put them in a nice warm place and they took about 5 to 7 days for most of them to sprout.
I think marlingardener has it right.
I start many plants indoors on a very low tech set-up (semi-sunny window with WNW exposure on top of a radiator cover) and I get OK results, not spectacular but good enough and healthy starts.
My hot peppers (Hungarian wax and jalapeno) germinated in 4 days and are already stocky little brutes (4 inches high with second true leaves). My Italian cubanelles on the other hand are at the four week mark with no germination yet, but this is typical.
Gives me something to look forward to in the drab days of winter.
All I would like to add is that warm soil tempature is very important for quick germination. You need to have your soil temp between 80 and 85 degrees. Below 80 degrees slows germination and slow germination gets the plants off to a poor start. After the 1st set of true leaves appear transplant to 3 inch pots and lower the soil temp to 70 degrees. I have read and from experience I have noticed that peppers seem to like a jolt of cold early in life after they germinate. I move mine to a hoop house over raised beds four weeks before I actually plant them in the garden.
I found sitting all my seedlings on my freestanding gas fireplace works wonders. I stuck a temp probe in the soil and it registered almost 80. Second year doing seedlings and first year I thought about this trick.
I start bell seeds and tomato seeds at the same time for my main gardening. It's true that peppers take longer to reach garden size, but then I always set the tomatoes out a couple of weeks before the peppers anyway since they need 70 degree soil while maters need only 60 or 65 degree soil.
I'm starting mine this weekend =) Peppers on Valentine's Day! Some people would say that's a little early for our zone, but (at least with my setup) they take a little while to germinate and don't grow really fast... so they're a nice transplanting size when it's time to set out. Not monsters, but not puny either.
Starting seeds inside, such that they have a few true leaves around the last frost date will give you about 3 weeks head start over sowing them directly in the garden. Bigger plants, of course, will be better.
If you have a short growing season, starting seeds inside can make a big difference but in zones 7b, 8, and higher it is not as crucial, unless you want them badly, fast.
Italian cubanelles, do you stuff them and put them on the grill? Do you get the seeds local or mail order? I have grown cubanelles down here in Jacksonville, FL, successfully, but would like try the Italian variety.
I try to start superhots such as the Bhuts or 7-pods about December 26. These things take 150 days or longer to produce many ripe pods. Plus, they do not seem to grow quickly inside under lights.
Davidgreenthumb, I get my Italian cubanelle seed (Connecticut brand named Hart's) from a local garden/nursery store. I stuff 'em, grill 'em and use 'em just about as my everyday green pepper. I prefer them to regular green bells (which I also grow).
Any chance of sending some seeds and working something out. Are they the true Italian variety?