I would like to grow my own. I am not much of a gardener, and have never managed to get anything other than tomatoes, basil, and cilantro going. Can someone tell me what I should do to ensure good results?
THanks in advance.
If you can grow tomatoes, you can grow chiles. Stick to just one type as they cross pollinate/hybridize readily and that will result in chiles you weren't planning on. If you have a big garden and keep them well separated, then you can differentiate more.
Also peppers are very influenced by the environment they grow in. How hot they are, how big and so on. This isn't entirely in your control and the same variety will behave differently next year in the same location.
It would have to be a pretty large garden, as the minimum recommended distance between varieites is 500 feet if you want to assure seed purity. But there are ways around that.
The simplest way to grow multiple varieties is to choose one from each of the five domestic species commonly available. While peppers are the sluts of the garden (they'll cross if you even look at them cockeyed), they only crossbreed within a species. So you could grow one each of Casicum annuum (the largest group, btw), C. baccatum, C. chinense, C. frutescens, and C. pubescens.
Caution: For practical purposes it was long thought that only Tabasco was a member of the frutescens species. Recent research indicates that there are no differences between the frutescens and the chinense, and it's now recommended that they all be grouped as C. frutescens. To be totally safe, if you plant Tabasco do not plant any of the C. chinense.
While isolation by distance is impractical in most home gardens, there are other methods if you do grow more than one of a species. Caging, for instance, is quite effective. So, too, is hand pollination. And you can often get away with closer distance if there are significant physical and attractant barriers between the two. But multi-species is really the safest way to go.
Of course, if you don't intend saving seed, none of this applies.
Somewhat akin to raising teenagers, hm???
Thasnks for the info guys. I am not real confident about my gardening because I somehow managed to kill my aloe, an unheard-of feat. Then again I never looked deeper into soil pH and all these other factors.
Cross pollination is an issue because what I am trying to do is to keep the seed from a batch of peppers I was given as a gift, by a friend who visited New Mexico, that I happen to really like. I will concentrate on getting these going and look into others later on.
We understand you don't consider yourself much of a gardener. But you have grown tomatoes. And, as Phil points out above, if you can grow the one you can grow the other. There's not a lot of difference. So quite knocking yourself and start planting!
Try and confirm exactly what you're friend gave you, though. If they are not an open-pollinated variety then saving seed is an excercise in futility.
Peppers normally should be started indoors, 6-8 weeks before plant-out date. In most of the country, last frost is used to determine that info. The one area where peppers and tomatoes differ is in germination rates. Tomatoes typically germinate in 3-7 days. Peppers, depending on variety, can take as much as 21 days. So this is a case where patience is definiately a virtue.
Use a good quality seed-starting medium---not soil from the garden!
Given how late in the year it is, you might want to direct sow instead. That means preparing the bed to accept the seed, and monitoring the moisture levels carefully. But there's no reason it shouldn't work for you.
For my jalepenos seedlings, I started with just an average envelope of seeds I bought a couple of years back (old seeds=first strike against me.) I put them in the soil with no special preparation (strike two against me) and eventually got two x 3" sprouts out of about 6 seeds that I planted. I didn't do the whole testing the soil pH, drainage, pre-soaking the seeds, tenting or plastic cup to incubate them, etc. as was recommended by a few people. But that in no way means that these sprouts will mature properly, much less yield chilis. I just wanted to see if I could get them to grow in my garden with minimal attention. Any yield I get will be a bonus!
That said, the only tip that I heard repeatedly was "if chilis are your goal, then start with a healthy and maturing seedling from a trusted nursery." That way, you are more likely to get produce. But if you are like me, and just want to see what happens with minimal energy spent, plant them 1/8" to 1/4" inch deep in a sunny spot, and water every few days or so...not everyday.
I've heard that advice myself, Ben. But there are thousands of chile varieties out there, and relatively few are produced by commercial greenhouses. So, if you want to experiment with other kinds you have to grow them yourself.
The fact is, too, that an awful lot of people make far too big a deal out of growing them, when they're actually rather simple. There is no reason I can think of that, given minimal care and attention, your two seedlings shouldn't grow and produce. Just the opposite, in fact. Jalapenos are incredibly productive, and two plants are likely to set so much fruit you won't know what to do with them.