Johnny's January Newsletter : How to Start Successful Pepper Transplants

January 2013
Get Your Pepper Transplants Off to a Healthy Start

Growing Tips for Successful Pepper Transplants

Colorful selection of market peppers

For many growers, peppers are one of the most strikingly diverse and profitable of vegetable crops. Peppers encompass dozens of types, in many colors, shapes, and flavors that run the gamut from sweet bells to pungent habanero.

To take full advantage of the pepper possibilities, you have to grow your own transplants. Pepper seedlings are not hard to start, but they are somewhat picky. And because yield can be affected by the quality of the transplants, you will want to pay special attention to your pepper plants' needs. Here are some tips for getting your pepper transplant seedlings off to a healthy start.

Pepper Starting at Johnny's
-- How We Do It

Seeding 20-row flats

The basic process we follow when starting peppers here at Johnny's

In early April, once we have determined which varieties we want to grow and how many plants of each, we assemble the seeds, 20-row flats, and Johnny’s Germination Mix that we will need to start the growing process. We place masking tape on one edge of the 20-row flat, so we can keep track of the varieties we have sown. We fill the rows three-quarters full with the germination mix, tamp it down slightly, and seed our rows with 20-30 seeds per row. The flats are covered with additional germination mix and watered lightly. A leak-proof tray is then set on top, to ensure that the flat retains moisture during germination, and the flat is placed in a warm (85°F/29°C), dark place.

JSS Pepper Selection

Seed Varieties Undergo a Rigorous Selection Process at Johnny's

As with all seed crops at Johnny's, we follow a rigorous selection process to determine which pepper varieties make the cut for inclusion in our offerings.

  • Each year, we obtain samples from both our in-house breeding program and the many domestic and international cooperating companies with whom we partner.
  • We plant the seeds, grow the seedlings in our greenhouses, and transplant them into our fields, where they are grown to maturity.
  • As the crops develop and reach maturity, they undergo close evaluation. Conducting a pepper trial entails collecting data on a wide range of characteristics, including days to maturity, flavor, pungency, yield, pathogen resistance, appearance of the fruit, and myriad other criteria.
  • We then examine how the new varieties compare to our existing varieties, and decide whether we will add a new variety or replace an existing one.

The majority of our trialing is conducted at our home farm in Albion, Maine. In addition to our trials in Maine, we trial our peppers throughout the country. Peppers can perform quite differently under varying climatic conditions, and trialing them across diverse geographic locations provides us with the comprehensive data set we need to make smart decisions. We're pleased to offer a superior selection of peppers for all your market niches.

JSS 40th Anniversary
Grower Profiles and Farm Visits

Freedom Farm, Freedom, Maine

The barn at Freedom Farm

Our first Grower Profile highlights Daniel Price and Ginger Dermott, owners of Freedom Farm, in Freedom, Maine. They share with us their expertise in growing chilies and sweet peppers, some insights into how they've developed their distribution channels, and their advice to aspiring growers.


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Johnny's Selected Seeds | 955 Benton Avenue, Winslow, Maine 04901 | 1-877-564-6697