We like getting seed where we know what the plant will be but don't know how they will turn out. It is an act of faith. We have had a rip roaring success with chillies this year, our pot luck chillies are mixed varieties. We have no idea how hot they will be or even what they will look like but these plants started in a heated propagator earlier in the year have shot up, going from strength to strength. We have around fifty of them now and they are just starting to flower. They could be mild, they could be blow your head off and leave you gasping on the path but it will be fun to find out.
If you have never tried your hand at chillies, here are some tips to get you started next year. There is still chance for you to buy plants and if you're in the area we'll sell you some or barter with you if you too want a bit of pot luck in your life:
1) Sow your seed undercover, we do our's in a heated windowsill propagator in the house in late February/early March. Simply fill a tray with seed compost and thinly scatter the seed into them getting equal distribution (which means don't dump the entire packet in one seed tray or else you'll end up with congested plants that feel ill, bit like being on the London Underground in rush hour in a hot summer and the people around you don't know what deodorant is).
2) Then cover the seed with some sieved compost. An easy way to do this is to use plant pot with holes in the bottom, fill it a third full with loose seed compost and tap it on the side over the seed trays. You have your own seed sieve. Do this until you can't see the seed.
3) Lightly water or place in a water bath.
4) Place the lids onto your propagator and wait until you see growth and uncover during the day, cover at night. When they form true leaves (as in: 'that looks like a tomato plant' etc) prick them out.
NOTE ABOUT WATERING: Now many people worry about watering plants in propagators. Don't. A little when needed goes far but always, always water in the morning and never at night. If you are concerned a water mister comes in hand to water any seedlings, but remember you want to get the water onto the soil and not all over the plants. No one should water foliage, foliage has a different job to the roots which pulls up the water. Water belongs on the soil, not the leaves.
NOTE ABOUT HEAT: Even in late winter/early spring we can get sunny days and if your propagator is on a windowsill it is a good idea to move them off or else your tiny seedlings will become deep fried rice.