Kaps3220
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Beginner Pepperoncini Questions

Hello, I'm new to planting and gardening, but I love cooking and have found peppers to be one of my favorite ingredients. A friend recently gave me dried Pepperoncini peppers that he got from Italy and told me they were easy to plant and maintain!

Unfortunately I'm not an avid gardener, and have the added bonus of living in Minneapolis. So after a bit of research, here are some of my remaining questions.

1) I've read that peppers respond well to loam based potting soils with a specific pH level, what soil would you recommend for sowing the seeds indoors?

2) The last typical frost in the Icebox of America is May 10th, about 75 days from today (2/23). Should I stick to the 70 day indoor starting period, meaning I'll be planting in the next week?

3) I live in a West facing townhouse with vaulted ceilings and skylights, which provide good midday sun. Does a sun plant need to be directly on a window sill, or can I get away with placing it on the ledge of my loft under a skylight to try to avoid the bone chilling cold that the window puts off?

4) Finally, what size pot should I use? I was going to throw a handful of seeds about a quarter inch down into the soil to increase my odds, is that the best idea?

Thanks in advance for all of your advice and help, I'm new to this, but hopefully I'll ease my way in to this exciting hobby!

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rainbowgardener
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Re: Beginner Pepperoncini Questions

check out the seed starting basics thread here: https://www.helpfulgardener.com/forum/vi ... 48&t=44183

I think you will find some of your questions answered.

But honestly, peppers need considerable heat for germination (best provided by heat mats) and then considerable light for growing on to transplant size (best provided by fluorescent tubes just a few inches above them, on for 16 hrs a day). You can improvise those things in various ways , rather than buying any equipment, but it will be a bit improvised and difficult. I.e. for germinating, what is the warmest spot in your house - some people put flats with seeds for germination on top of the refrigerator. Is there a shelf up close to the ceiling somewhere? Then since those areas are typically dark, you have to check twice a day for seedlings sprouting and then move the flat to somewhere with lots and lots of light, that is still warm.

If you are not willing to provide the conditions needed, you might be just as well served (especially if you only want a couple/ few pepper plants) to find a good nursery and buy well started transplants at the appropriate time. Maybe call around and find out who is growing your pepperoncis.
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pepperhead212
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Re: Beginner Pepperoncini Questions

Welcome to the forum, kaps!

The only thing I can add to the good advice Rainbow offered is that you have to be careful about when you put your peppers in the ground, as they like warmth, as the seeds do, when germinating. 5-10 seems awfully early for a last frost date in your area, as my last frost date is 5-1. Sometimes the last frost dates on charts are not for absolute last, but based on percentages. I have seen 4-11 listed as my LFD, but it is a 50% probability, and 4-26 as a 90% probability! I don't want to put things out that frost will kill, and only have them live 9 out of 10 times, so I look for the near absolute guarantee. And peppers, in my area, don't go into the ground until 2, and sometimes 3 weeks after that date I use as the LFD - 5-1. The soil should be 55-60° in that upper zone where the peppers are planted.

If you aren't going to set up a seed starting area yet, with all the lighting and heat mats and the like, one good thing about buying pepper plants (and I have seen pepperoncini at these places) from a place like Home Depot or Lowe's is that they are sort of hardened off for you, so you won't have to go through that. Hardening off is when you put the peppers (or any plants) outside to get them used to the cooler weather, as well as the intense light, compared to where they have been kept indoors. You start with just an hour or so, and increase it gradually over several days, before planting them in the garden. Those big stores don't "baby" their plants, so this has already been done for you, more or less.
Dave

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Re: Beginner Pepperoncini Questions

Peppers are slow to grow in the beginning so starts are a good way to go. If you want to use your seeds though, soak the seeds overnight in warm water.
I plant my seeds in tofu containers but you can use plastic or styrofoam mushroom containers. I like containers that are shallow and wide. Make lots of holes on the bottom and a few on the sides near the bottom. I do community pots so I will get several seedlings in a single pot.

I would use miracle grow potting soil, (make sure it says potting soil, not garden soil which will not work). Dampen the media, it should not be dripping wet. Fill the containers leaving about 3/4 inch from the top. Sprinkle the drained pepper seeds on top. A toothpick helps to separate them out. Sprinkle a little more soil on top to cover and press down. Water the container. I put a paper napkin on top of the pot and water through the napkin, it does not disturb the seeds that way. Let the container drip dry in the sink and put the container in a clear plastic bag. The napkin can stay or go. It does not matter. If the napkin stays, make sure it stays moist and does not dry out. I leave the side of the bag open since I don't like too much condensation. Put the container in a warm spot on an old heating pad, on top of the frig or next to the motor, or if you have an older tv set and you watch a lot of tv, then the top of the tv is usually warm, next to the heater can also work. I like the top of the tv, sometimes I forget about the seeds if I am not looking right at it and my tv has a light above it. Check to make sure either the paper towel is damp and the media is moist but not soggy. If it dries out too fast, then take it to the sink and water or mist it with a bottle of warm water. Check for sprouts after about 10 days. If they sprout under the paper towel gently lift the towel off. Mist as needed, but make sure they do not get too soggy or they will dampen off. The plastic bag should help keep them moist.

It takes about a month for the seedlings to develop true leaves and be ready to transplant and then I transplant into individual 4 inch pots. 8 oz plastic cups work too. Make sure they have drain holes. When the peppers outgrow the cups I transplant to gallon pots and end up with a 5 gallon bucket.

Peppers will do better if they have a light right over them for 16 hours a day. Light from a window will not be enough and you will need to keep turning the plants to keep them straight. Harden them off outdoors when the temperature gets to around 70 degrees and keep them in full sun as much as possible.
Happy gardening in Hawaii. Gardens are where people grow.

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rainbowgardener
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Re: Beginner Pepperoncini Questions

if you aren't sure, dave's garden has a feature that you can enter your zip code and it will give you lots of frost date info: average first and last frost, dates for different probabilities, for either frost (32 deg), hard freeze (28 deg) etc:

https://davesgarden.com/guides/freeze-fr ... &submit=Go

Personally I go with the 50% average last frost date. Those averages are based on over 100 years of data. In these global warming times, they are often too conservative. But I watch the weather very closely and if there is a frost threatened I get out and cover things. I have rarely ever lost a plant that is in the ground that way. The ones I lose are the ones still sitting in trays hardening off. They have a lot less soil around them, so they freeze easier, and they haven't been planted yet because they aren't ready. Most often that's just carelessness or laziness (aw, I don't feel like getting up and lugging all those trays back in again, they'll be all right... :shock: ).
Twitter account I manage for local Sierra Club: https://twitter.com/CherokeeGroupSC Facebook page I manage for them: https://www.facebook.com/groups/65310596576/ Come and find me and lots of great information, inspiration

Kaps3220
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Re: Beginner Pepperoncini Questions

Wow, thanks for all of the info. My friend made it sound so simple, but I think it's pretty apparent that quality plants take much time and effort. I watched a YouTube video with a pretty basic fluorescent/foil cardboard box, which might be my best option! I'll keep you posted, but I think a little challenge will be fun. I'm not one to buy, I'm one to fail and learn from my mistakes! So off to Home Depot after work, my girlfriend is going to think I'm crazy. Or starting a drug operation... :eek:

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