Sowing Tomato and Chilli Seeds

Chilli seeds and small pots with compost in them

My first seeds that I need to be sowing are tomato and chilli seeds. This is because the growing season is very short in the United Kingdom. In London, I have found it an advantage to start well before spring arrives. Therefore, this February has seen me taking out my tomato and chilli seeds for sowing.

small seeds next to a red chilli broken in two pieces. There is a small flower pot.with compost in it. a tray of several small flower pots with compost in them and some seed packets.
Sowing tomato and chilli seeds indoors

Sowing Tomato and Chilli Seeds

Chilli Seeds

I have some saved chilli seeds of the varieties I grew last summer, like the Ring of Fire, Cayenne and Aji Limon (Lemon Drop). I am definitely planting these again as they were such great performers with big harvests. Other chilli seeds I am sowing are Curry and Jalepenos.  New varieties I will be adding this year are Bolivian Rainbow Hot and Basket of Fire!

Exciting right?

How to sow chilli seeds indoors

  • Fill small pots with seed sowing compost. I use this compost as it is an ideal texture to hold moisture for the seeds to germinate.
  • Use a chopstick or the blunt end of a pencil to make holes that are 0.5 cm deep.
  • Place a seed in each hole – I tend to place from 5 to 8 seeds in each pot (remember to sow a few more than you need, as not all seeds will germinate)
  • Cover each seed up by closing the hole with the compost on the sides.
  • Use slightly tepid water to moisten the compost. Please don’t be generous with the water as it may cause the seeds to rot instead.
  • Use a plastic bag to cover the pot or place in a tray that has a plastic cover – this will help to hold the temperature and humidity.
  • Leave the pots or tray in a warm place indoors. I like to leave mine near the boiler in my kitchen.
  • After 7-21 days, you will see little green shoots peeking through the compost. Once this happens, you can take the plastic cover off and place them near a bright warm window.
  • Water only when the compost becomes dry to the touch. Chillies do not need much water.
  • Once the seedlings have the second set of leaves (true leaves), they will be ready for transplanting into their own pots with multipurpose compost in them.
several small plastic pots with little seedlings in them. these are all next to a window.
Chilli seedlings with baby leaves
several small pots with little seedlings by the window. each pot has a label with writing on it.
Different varieties of chilli seedlings on the kitchen windowsill
Seedlings in a plastic pot next to a sunny window.
True leaves (second set) just appearing on the chilli seedlings

Tomato Seeds

I have had such fun growing and eating fresh homegrown tomatoes last summer and the year before! Our family favourites are Sungold cherry tomatoes and Roma plum tomatoes, both of which are going to be sown again. Some of new ones for this year are Minibel (small in size), Costoluto Fiorentino (large beefsteak) and Hundreds and Thousands which is a hanging basket variety. I am really looking forward to tasting these homegrown tomatoes as I begin to sow my seeds!

How to sow tomato seeds indoors

  • Fill small pots with seed sowing compost. I use this compost as it is an ideal texture to hold moisture for the seeds to germinate.
  • Use a chopstick or the blunt end of a pencil to make holes that are 0.5 cm deep.
  • Place a seed in each hole – I tend to place from 5 to 8 seeds in each pot (remember to sow a few more than you need, as not all seeds will germinate)
  • Cover each seed up by closing the hole with the compost on the sides.
  • Use slightly tepid water to moisten the compost. Try to avoid over watering as it may cause the seeds to rot.
  • Use a plastic bag to cover the pot or place in a tray that has a plastic cover – this will help to hold the temperature and humidity.
  • Leave the pots or tray in a warm place indoors. I like to leave mine near the boiler in my kitchen.
  • After 7-14 days, you will see little green shoots peeking through the compost. Once this happens, you can take the plastic cover off and place them near a bright warm window.
  • Water often to keep the compost damp. Tomatoes need water so make sure the compost is always moist.
several small plastic pots with little seedlings in each by the windows. each pot has a small white label with writing on them.
Different varieties of tomato seedlings on the windowsill
  • Once the seedlings have the second set of leaves (true leaves), they are ready for transplanting into their own pots. The seedlings below have all been transplanted into multipurpose compost.
several plastic pots in the sunshine,.each pot has a label that has writing on it. Every pot has small seedlings that have 4 leaves each.
True leaves on the tomato seedlings

Sowing Indoors

Sowing tomato and chilli seeds indoors can be done up to April in the UK. You can also buy the young plants from garden centres but seeds allow you to grow your own choice of chillies and tomatoes. Not only are tomatoes so delicious but also very good for your health as this BBC good food post explains.

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Here are some of the seeds I am sowing this year if you’d like to try them:

Tomato Seeds

Chilli Seeds

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