Contrary to popular belief it is reliably easy to successfully grow chillies, even in the reliably tepid climates of Northern Europe or North America. No special equipment is required and they can be treated in much the same way as a gardener would treat tomato plants.
Chilli Seed Germination
Chilli seeds should be planted in early spring, however many growers try to extend the growing season by starting them off as early as January. The advantage of starting early in the year is extending the fruiting period later in the season.
Chilli Seeds can simply be planted in a seed tray under about 1cm of fine compost, much the same as any other plant Ideally the seeds should be kept indoors or in a heated greenhouse during germination as the seeds need heat in order to start the sprouting phase .
Once the seeds have sprouted they require light in addition to heat. At this stage make sure the seeds are placed by a nice sunny window inside or in a heated greenhouse as mentioned above.
Be sure during the germination process to ensure that the compost is kept moist and does not dry out too much.
As soon as the seeds are about 5-10cm tall they are ready to pot on. This simply means transferring the seeds from the tray into individual pots. Rather than moving them straight to big pots (30cm diameter) it is best to increase the size of the pot slowly over a period of weeks in order to promote even root and foliage growth.
When potting on never handle the plants by the leaves as these are incredibly tenderate when young. Instead try to remove them from the seed tray by removing the compost from the tray that is around the root, with the seedling still inside.
As soon as the last frost passes the plants can be planed outside. When this is will depend on your location. Naturally if you live in a cold climate growth may be stunted as chilli plants prefer a warm climate. Be sure to keep an eye on the weather – if there is a sudden cold spell, or risk of frost then bringing the plants inside.
If you have the room simply keep the plants in pots in your greenhouse. If planting outside the plants will perform well either remaining in larger pots or planted straight into the ground.
Watering & Food
As chillies originate in warm climates they do not like too much water. As a rule you should avoid watering without the soil looks very dry on the surface, or the plant appears to be wilting.
Some people try to promote fruit growth by introducing fertilizer into their water though this is not necessary.
When are chillies ripe?
Obviously a lot depends on the variety. As a general rule though chillies (much the same as bell peppers) tend to turn from green to red as they ripen. Virtually all varieties areible in the green stage and as a rule, the taste become sweeter as they turn redder.
For more specific advice on ripeness check for the particular variety you are growing.