Peppersare tropical in origin and MUST have heat to germinate and grow properly. I personally like a constant soil temperature above 65F or warmer when starting my pepper seeds. Ideal is 75-85 degrees.
Soil & Planting Organic Heirloom Pepper Seeds I generally use sterile soil that has either been purchased from a nursery supply or you can learn to solar sterilize your own potting mix straight from your sifted, aged compost. However, that is an article for another time. What is important for you to understand when planting any seed, is there is a host of organisms that will try to attack your seed or seedling. We humans have discovered that if we use sterile soil (heat treated), most of these organisms are not present or are dead. This year we will offer for sale the same mix I use here on the farm to plant thousands of seedlings, but if you don't get it here, get it at a local nursery. Your success rate with germination will be astonishingly higher.
Remember this mix contains little, if any, nutrients. Most of what the pepper initially needs is in the seed itself. Many people burn small seedlings buy adding fertilizer straight to this soil. Do not! Later, when the seedlings have 3-4 leaves on them, you can fertilize with an organic seaweed solution. OK, now lets get those little pepper seeds planted! The next big mistake many people make with pepper seeds is planting too deep. You need to plant your tiny pepper seeds only a 1/4 inch deep. That is it; no deeper! Next, LIGHTLY tamp the soil over the seed to make sure you have good seed-to-soil contact. I normally water this potting mix BEFORE I plant, as it makes putting tiny holes in easier and I don't wash away my little pepper seeds.
Germination and Small Heirloom Pepper Plants Now you have tucked your tiny organic pepper seeds in the mix. They are moist, you are keeping the soil a balmy 75F and nothing is happening. BE PATIENT. Some pepper seeds can take as long as 6 weeks to germinate. As soon as your little pepper plants do start breaking through the soil, move them to a sunny location (morning sun or filtered afternoon sun) if they are not already there. Now, you just need to keep them warm and moist. Moist, I say -- not water logged -- or the pepper seedlings will die. Once your seedlings have reached the 3 leaf stage I normally remove any protective clear cover you may have on them to allow for excellent air circulation. It is at this stage you can fertilize by making a seaweed tea.
That is all there is to successfully starting peppers -- or tomato seeds for that matter. Remember not to transplant your pepper plants to the garden until night time temperatures are constantly staying over 65 degrees. The warmer the better. A mistake many people make is transplanting too soon and the poor pepper plants just never really do much after being stunted by the cool nights. Be patient, follow this advice and send me some photos of your pepper bounty! Farmer John