First seedlings!

The propagation boxes seem to work well. The first seedlings emerged after only a few days.

They are now basking in the sunshine on the window sill - making room for the next seeds in the box.
The weather is glorious at the moment. Frosty mornings, then warm sunshine during the day. :) The spring air is filled with hope and expectations.

Propagation box

It's still winter, but now is the time to start the first seeds. I am keen to have some biggish seedlings when it is finally time to start planting. Chillis, capsicums and eggplants seem to need longer to grow to a decent size. What to do?

Make your own propagation box!

Take some styrofoam boxes.

Add heat mats (in this case they are actually reptile mats).

Put your trays on that. (The seedling punnets will go in there.)

Cover with an old window.

Get yourself a thermometer with a probe, so that you can measure the temperature of the tray.

Start sowing! :)
As you may be able to see in the picture, the temperature inside the box climbed to 24C within a few minutes.

Quick! Let's party!

Hi, all. Veggie Gnome here! Andrew has flown the coop.
He will be back, so don't worry. So, what shall we do now? Have a party? Other suggestions?

While you all think about it, here is a picture of one of my favourite succulents. Outside, on a frosty morning.

How to save chilli seed

P1050530One might argue that saving chilli seeds from the current crop (to grow on in coming years) is the sort of pleasant gardening job that one might well conduct indoors during mid-winter. Yet the pungent fumes given off when bulk-handling chillies makes this just as much an outdoor job.

So I compromise and wait for a sunny winter’s day to get the job done, ducking in and out of the house as needed.

P1050591The cook’s hanging about too, hopeful at this chance to make some sweet chilli sauce from the remnants of the gardener’s efforts. So I proceed with caution, ensuring that my muddy boots are well away from a possible crime scene and that I clean up kitchen surfaces as I go along.

P1050596Because chillies come in all sorts of weird shapes there is no single ‘right-way’ to get them open and the seeds out. So a small sharp knife is essential, as are a few dishes for storing different varieties, and latex gloves to avoid the agony that follows touching one’s face for about a month after working with chillies and bare hands.

P1050533Some chillies – especially small one – would drive me crazy trying to cut the seeds out. So these are best processed whole by adding them to a food blender or Thermomix, adding a few cups of water, then blasting them apart.

Only the seeds that sink to the bottom are of interest to me. I suspect their increased density  means that they are more fully formed than those that float to the top.



P1050582Then I sieve and wash these remnants a few times, pick out any remaining pieces of stem and flesh and place the seeds in small glass jars to dry. I will stir these regularly over the coming week to separate them before they go to the storage tins.

P1050585(Placing chilli seed on blotting paper to dry just glues them down and makes them almost impossible to cut loose once they are dry).

Long thin chillies are more easily handled dry; I cut them open and separate the seed-bearing ribs from the outer wall with the sharp knife and let the whole lot dry out in still air out of direct sunlight. The seeds come away later with some gentle rubbing.