Sow chillies

Bring on the heat by starting off these seeds now

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On a cold January or February day, when you’re dreaming of hotter climes and warm weather, it’s the perfect time to get in the mood and sow some chillies indoors. Slower to grow and develop than tomatoes, they need a longer time to get established – hence you can start now.

Chilli plants need some good heat and light to grow and fruit well. Start off by sowing your seed thinly in modules or trays of good quality seed compost, which hasn’t been sat outside in the cold and wet – ensure it’s warmed through by being indoors for a day or two, and moisten it before sowing. Cover the sown seed in a thin layer of more compost.

To keep a consistent temperature, keep your tray at between 18C and 24C in a heated propagator, though an evenly warm spot by a light window is okay if you can maintain this temperature range. At night the temperature can be reduced a couple of degrees. Keep your tray in as light a spot as possible once you can see germination taking place, and be sure to prick them out once two seed leaves have emerged.

Water regularly and pot up as they grow, being sure to feed your grown plants with a tomato feed once established.

Specialist chilli seed supplier Sea Spring Seeds (www.seaspringseeds.co.uk) offers around 70 varieties of chilli seed, and also sends out good quality plug plants from April to grow on if you haven’t the means to raise them from seed.