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Complete noob here with tons of questions!

Hey guys! Brand new here!

So, I love the "hot stuff" and have been thinking about trying my hand at growing my own chili's for quite some time now. I am not an experienced gardener or anything, but I do think I have a bit of green thumb in me. My dad and his dad are very into growing plants of all types. I'm also quite interested in plants and want to start growing my own stuff; it's fascinating to me. Anyways, I have a bunch of questions and figured this would be a good place to start with plants; producing my own hot peppers and learning as I go seems like a good deal to me!

Just a quick little bit of info. I live in NW Chicago Suburbs so we have some pretty nasty winter weather here. I realize I may be a bit late for getting fruit this year, but wanted to start anyways. On with the questions:
  1. Seeds - I'd like to start my plants from seeds. Are all seeds "created equal", or would it be worth purchasing seeds from a specific place? Any places you like to purchase your seeds from? Only one I know about currently is the Hippy Seed Company out in Australia as I got into chili's watching his videos on youtube.
  2. Types of Chilis - I'm not a "chili head" yet. I haven't really ventured very far in eating raw pods, so I don't think I want to go too crazy. Perhaps I could do some plants for chili's up to 100,000 scovilles and then some hotter ones to use in stews/soups/etc? Totally open to suggestions :)
  3. Containers - I'm going to be growing in pots rather than in the ground. I have heard a lot about Superroots Air Pots in that they encourage superior root growth because of the automatic root pruning they allow. While I may not keep the plant in something like this, is it worth it for chili's or is it not beneficial to their growth? Also, as far as starting seedlings, do you recommend any sort of seedling trays or heating pads? I've read it's important to keep the soil warm for quick germination.
  4. Soil - What do you guys recommend for soil? I've read many people like making their own but I'd like to start a bit simpler and just get bagged soil. I've read about many different kinds that people have had great success with but not really anything specific to growing chili.. For example ones I've heard tossed around are: Fox Farm Ocean Forest, Premiere Tech Horitulture Pro Mix BX, Sunshine Mix #4, Fox Farm Light Warrior, Fox Farm Happy Frog, etc. I realize that a lighter/soil less medium would be best for starting seedlings as to not "burn" them. Once they've grown a bit they can be moved into something a bit heavier.
  5. pH - What pH do chili's prefer? Is there a certain range I should be shooting for? Just aim for neutral, like 6-7 range?
  6. Fertilizer - What type of fertilizer/plant food do chili's tend to like? Any brands you guys really like? Again I was looking at Fox Farm stuff, but I'm still not set on anything. Just looking for advice from you all.
  7. Water - Good idea to use distilled water rather than tap? Since I'm not going to be growing a lot of plants I don't mind spending a little money on distilled water if it's more optimal for plant health and growth.

Thank you all so much for your help! I'm really excited to start all of this :lol:
 

Capsicum

Banned
You can not really start from seed now because it is too late in the season. Just go and buy starts, it is what I do.

Next, I like reg MIracle gro potting mix, mixed with perlite. Then fertilize using all purpose water soluble by miracle gro. Get gypsum and epsom salts to provide Ca/Mg. Keep it really really simple, and things will turn out better.

- Good idea to use distilled water rather than tap"

NO use tap. When growing in soil your ph of your water really does not matter. The soil is a good buffer. The fact is tap water is great to use and the chlorine does NOT effect plants, but micro organisms in the soil which are usless in a in-organic fertilizer program.
 
How is it to late in the season to start? I had Bhuts that sprouted June 4th and still had pods and I'm in Michigan. And I don't know about Chicago but here in Michigan it hasn't got plant killing cold until November past 3-4 years.

From my iphone
 
You can not really start from seed now because it is too late in the season. Just go and buy starts, it is what I do.

I really want to start from seeds. I don't mind if I don't get fruit this year, just want to start from scratch on my own as part of learning. You can "Winter Over" chili plants indoors, yeah?


NO use tap. When growing in soil your ph of your water really does not matter. The soil is a good buffer. The fact is tap water is great to use and the chlorine does NOT effect plants, but micro organisms in the soil which are usless in a in-organic fertilizer program.

I have ready many conflicting arguments as to what kind of water to use. Many people love to use rain water they catch themselves. Other people have said that the Total Dissolved Solids in tap water as well as other impurities can slow the uptake to the plant and perhaps cause other undesirable effects. Wouldn't distilled water with some sort of light additives be ideal? I'm still torn on this part.

How is it to late in the season to start? I had Bhuts that sprouted June 4th and still had pods and I'm in Michigan. And I don't know about Chicago but here in Michigan it hasn't got plant killing cold until November past 3-4 years.

From my iphone

That is good to hear :) I lived in Detroit suburbs for 6 years; just moved back to Chicago a couple years ago (my home town). The weather in Chicago and Detroit are very comparable.
 
Your best bet is to use the search function on the top right of the screen. THere is a huge thread on Soil (pinned at the top of this forum), as well as a whole area dedicated to vendors (Vendor's Vault). As far as the air pots go, there is a thread or 3 in the grow tech area and multiple threads on feeding and such.

There is soo much good info in those threads, that after you get some responses here, I would spend some time reading those.

BUT, I love pepperlover.com for seeds, all types of chilis from jals to TS and 7s, they all have their uses, I have never used airpots, but heard some good things, I use promix indoors ammended with A LOT of drainage aids (pearlite or pine fines), from there I am going in ground. For feeding I use Botanicare products with great results (ProGrow, and Calmag) I also use superthrive that is just amazing. I let my tap water sit in buckets for 24-48 hours and then it is good for use.

Good luck!
 
:welcome:

For seeds, I used pepperlover.com last year and have gotten excellent germination rates and all the peppers appear to have grown true - highly reccomended. TheHippySeedCompany.com has a good reputation, and I have heard good things about http://www.semillas....op_en/shop.cgi. Check out the vendorsection.

After you've settled in a bit, If you check out the marketplace, you may find some members willing to give you a good deal on some of their personal seed collections, and maybe some fresh pods too in the upcoming months.

Like capsicum said though, you may be a bit late in the season to start seeds in the next couple weeks, depending on how long the growing season lasts where you live, but I dont know much about that. (I'm starting some seeds now, but in AZ we can grow outside basically year round.

As far as chile varieties, you may not think you want anything hotter than 100k scovilles yet, but you'll probably be kicking yourself at the end of the season if you didnt get at least 1 superhot strain [ie Naga, 7Pot, scorpion, or at least a habanero] because they are great for making sauces and powders, plus making your friends cry. I'd say just pick a variety of types that sounds tasty and looks cool to you.

As far as how to grow them, soil, ph etc... I'll leave that sort of advice to people who know what they are doing.
 
How is it to late in the season to start? I had Bhuts that sprouted June 4th and still had pods and I'm in Michigan. And I don't know about Chicago but here in Michigan it hasn't got plant killing cold until November past 3-4 years.

From my iphone
I'm glad you posted this. Everything that I've read says that super hots are ready to harvest in 120-150 days, which is 4-5 months. Now, if I start in April they should have pods ready in August or September, right? Am I missing something?

Oh! :welcome: from Ohio, lunchtime! Start germinating!!!
 
Maybe I just got lucky last year or maybe it was the botinacare line used the grow and liquid karma with my waterings they loved the stuff. They really loved the worm tea watering I have them

From my iphone
 
Pepperlover.com is your best bet for seeds. As far as it being too late I would say definitely give it a try! You'll just end up with something later in the season and if not you will still have fun and get some good practice in for next year.
 
Are you growing indoors or outside? Will they be in pots or ground?
If you are growing in pots then you can move them indoora or outdoors as temps dictate and it wont matter the time of year per say.. as for pepper tyeps go with what you like but try others as well. They all taste different. Personally i prefer asian peppers to mexican for instance. For me ghost taste so much better than habs for instance. Lastly relax and enjoy the experience if one dies or doesnt produce this year dont freek out the living one may produce next seson.

Now that im into this whole thing i have found more varieties then i can count and constantly want to try new ones...sad thing is the same goes for all food groups and if your addiction really kicks in you will find yourself growing odd varieties of fruits and vegtibles as well. Welcome to the curse!
 
Your best bet is to use the search function on the top right of the screen. THere is a huge thread on Soil (pinned at the top of this forum), as well as a whole area dedicated to vendors (Vendor's Vault). As far as the air pots go, there is a thread or 3 in the grow tech area and multiple threads on feeding and such.

There is soo much good info in those threads, that after you get some responses here, I would spend some time reading those.

BUT, I love pepperlover.com for seeds, all types of chilis from jals to TS and 7s, they all have their uses, I have never used airpots, but heard some good things, I use promix indoors ammended with A LOT of drainage aids (pearlite or pine fines), from there I am going in ground. For feeding I use Botanicare products with great results (ProGrow, and Calmag) I also use superthrive that is just amazing. I let my tap water sit in buckets for 24-48 hours and then it is good for use.

Good luck!

Appreciate the advice! I will definitely check out the threads you mentioned :)

Are you growing indoors or outside? Will they be in pots or ground?

In pots that I will move indoors when temperatures drop late in the year, try to keep them alive until the following season and then bring them out when there's no more freezes? At least that's what I was imagining doing :)
 
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