This article if for people who have purchased Datil Pepper seeds from our store. To those with a green thumb, these peppers are very fun to raise from seed, you can buy some here.
To ensure your success with these plants I have assembled the following information about how to germinate the seeds and step the plants up from seedlings to producing plants.Information on harvesting Datil Peppers is also below.
Datil peppers if handled correctly from seedlings can become very, very vigorous producers of peppers. A single plant can yield hundreds of full-grown peppers and thousands of seeds for future plantings.
First things first…germination:
In order to germinate the seeds they must be placed in a clean, disease free potting soil. Do not start out with soil from your garden or yard. Buy an organic or conventional potting mix such as Miracle Grow or similar. While garden soil or dirt from your yard it too compact and heavy, other mixes such as straight peat moss, is too light and airy and will not provide the structure the seedlings need to start growing upright.
Take clean new soil and place in planting pots such as peat pots or even empty cardboard egg crates. Once filled, use a pencil and make a hole about 1/4 deep and place a single seed. Sometimes the seeds are stuck together and two or more must be placed in one hole, this is ok. Once the seeds are in the holes carefully cover up the seeds and press down slightly.
Next water the seeds with a fine mist, do not use a watering can as the force of the water will make the seeds move or rise to the surface. I like spray bottles the are bought empty at home improvement stores and filled with clean water. Spray the seeds until they are very moist. Next place the seedlings in a warm place, try to shoot for 70-75 degrees of steady temperature. Keeps seeds in ambient light, no direct sun. A sunny room is ok, but not a beam of light as this will dry the seeds too quickly. If this steady temperature cannot be achieved in your house I suggest using a heating pad on its lowest setting or even a yogurt maker.
Each day lightly spray the seeds to keep them moist. In 10-20 days (yes, this is a long time) the seeds will emerge. Once they emerge keep them in a window sill or sunny location. Once they are standing upright switch from the water spray to a liquid feed spray. See this link to learn about Miracle Grow organic plant food, it works really well.
As the seedlings grow you need to step up the container size being very carful not to break or damage them. I use peat moss plugs that allow me to take the whole seedling and the dirt its growing in and re-pot the whole thing. Do not try to pull seedling’s roots out of their soil, they will die.
As the plants grow be careful to keep them moist and in a sunny location. Use the liquid feed per package instructions as far as the correct mixture of concentrate to water ratio. As the peppers become strong enough to survive the force of a watering can you can mix the plant food in the watering can and stop using the spray bottle.
Datil peppers like hot morning sun but prefer to be in the shade or filtered sun by about 2 pm…do not let them roast in hot afternoon sun. Particularly west facing sun or they will wilt and die. I keep my peppers on the south side of the house, they get full morning sun but then are shaded by about 2 or so. They need about 6 hours of sun per day.
One thing to watch for is container size. They can quickly become root bound which will stunt their growth. You will ned to replant them 3-4 times to get them into the final container size which should be a 15 gallon container. They grow very well in containers. I do not have experience with planting them directly in a garden. I like the containers because they can be easily moved to adjust them to the amount of sun they need.
When the peppers emerge they will be an olive green color, they will become a lime green as time goes by. Look for a dark purple strip to appear as a signal that the pepper is getting ready to be picked. You can pick Datils green with the purple strip or wait until they become yellow and finally a glowing orange. Flavor only improves as they get more color. However, picking peppers frequently encourages the plant to continue producing. If you leave all the peppers on the plant too much energy is expended supporting the existing peppers on the plant and it will slow or stop flowering which creates new peppers. I like to pick peppers each week to encourage the plant to make more. During harvesting I either freeze them, cook with them or make the pepper “mash” once a week or so as a way to preserve the harvest.
As fall approaches, they will need more sun as the sunlight becomes weaker. If in containers you can move them to a west facing location. They will keep producing peppers well into the fall if kept in a sunny location. Once it starts to get in the 40′s at night bring the container inside, if you have a very sunny window they will keep growing or a grow light can be used to extend the harvest. Truthfully, if you do the above steps you will have so many peppers that letting the plant die off might be the best plan.
Refer to the website for a video on making a pepper “mash” this method will allow you to have Datil peppers all year long ready for your salsa or other recipes. The peppers freeze well too.
Best of luck growing what I think is the best tasting and most satisfying pepper you can grow or eat, The Datil Pepper.
If you have any questions please feel free to email me.