Tuesday, 6 November 2012

Getting and keeping the best seeds from your chillies

In my midsummer article about getting pure seeds, I told you about isolating flowers and plants to get pure seeds. Now, I hope you all had a great tea while reading it, and got to isolate some flowers. If you did not, all hope is not lost. Peppers and chillies do self-pollinate mostly, but can get crossed with other peppers and chillies if there are bees or ants around.
Still, as the capsicum family has a fruit with one ovule for every seed, there is a good chance of getting pure and crossed seeds from one and the same fruit. So with peppers, paprika and chillies 1 grain of pollen and 1 ovule make 1 seed. With the chance of cross pollination being low, non-isolated flowers will bring fruits having 90 or more pure seeds per 100 seeds.
So it is worth saving all seeds, isolated or not. So, here a post about saving seeds.

Capsicum, paprika and chilli, are a strange family off plants I think. They have flowers that mostly self-pollinate, so they don’t need bees or even another plant. They can do it all themselves. Even odder, these seeds you get from them don’t even need a dormant period, which most plants do need. You can seed seeds directly from a pod, and they will live happy ever after. I even do see the plants from fresh seeds grow a lot faster in the start.

Now to be 100% sure to get pure seeds, you need to isolate the flower, no doubt about that. There are too many crosses as it is. I am already tasting myself through chillies for over 2 years, and I did not cover more than 10% of all chillies that exist in this world now, so I don’t need more crosses or I will never be ready tasting.
But hey I am wandering off again.
So pollination is covered, now you need to let the fruit ripe as long as possible. With some thin walled chillies, you can sundry the fruits, and have them give you the seeds when you want and use the dried pod in a whooping chili. Not all chillies can be sun dried, only the thinner walled ones. For any of them, the fruits need to be as ripe as they can, leaving them on the plant as long as possible.

I do dry a lot of seeds, but tend to use some seeds from my last fruits, fresh out of the pod.
If you want to use your seeds later however, you will have to dry them. For selecting seeds there are various ways. One is the rinsing method, get your fresh seeds out of the pod and put them in water. The empty ones will float, but this does not work always, so try it and have a good look. I have learned that with some varieties this method does not work. Then again, if you have a good look at the seeds, you can see which are not good, or empty. Any discoloured seeds, ultra-thin seeds or deformed seeds need to be discarded.

Now if you don’t dry the pod in total, you have to dry the seeds. That can be done very easily in a coffee filter, as simple as that. Give them good time to dry, give them at least 3 weeks. If you put them in ziplock bags after these 3 weeks, they will be fine for one or 2 years if kept at a constant temperature. If you can get your hands at small silica gel packets, you can add them to your seeds, the dryer they are the longer they will keep. The constant temperature is important too, if you want to keep them for more than 2 years.
If you are interested, I have seeds for sale.

Yours sincerely

Bart J. Meijer

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