If you have any sort of interest in chile peppers, sooner or later you will start growing some yourself.
Same with bell peppers, by the way, they are just a castrated mutant of chile peppers (and tend to be a bit less easy to grow because they need slightly better conditions and have to produce much bigger fruit).
Many seem to still shy back from growing their own peppers, many end up with only too much chilli they have grown… Your own cultivation of chilli is easy to do and well worth it, anyways. Especially if you are not just growing the same types as everyone else, but looking to work with and contribute to the diversity.
I do, and so, I have a lot to tell you:
In summary, more or less shortly:
When is the right time to start chile pepper seeds?
Most “professional” chile pepper growers will start very early.
November-December is not a rare time; January-February are considered (and are, more or less) the months one needs to start chilli.
You just have to check if and how you can sensibly manage.
If you start your chilli extra-early, you also have to take extra-good care of it and douse the young plants in artificial light.
If not, they will grow spindly and suffer a great setback once the time comes to transplant them and put them outside, meaning they’ll take longer to get back to growing and producing fruit, after all…
So, try to start early enough that you don’t get the first ripe pods in December. But don’t start so early that your young plants don’t get enough light and space, having had to grow indoors for months…
How do you sow chile pepper seeds?
Chilli is among the easiest of plants to grow from seeds.
As long as the seeds you use aren’t the oldest, you only have to get them (some 0.2-0.4 inches) under soil, keep the soil moist, and put it all warm enough. Next to or even on heating tends to be good.
Keep warm, don’t let them dry out, and they will come up.
That is one of the secrets of chile peppers, after all: They tend to grow only too well.
How many seeds do I put in one pot?
I really shouldn’t be answering this.
Ideally, you just put 1-2 seeds into one (2 inch diameter) starter pot to not even tempt yourself into growing the chilli too tight together for too long.
Yeah, I’ve had some experience with that…
It is not a big challenge to separate chile pepper seedlings and transplant them into individual pots later, though, whereas the room for starter pots tends to be too little.
You’ll need to find the right balance for your space, same as with the timing.
How long does chile pepper germination take?
Mainly, it’s just a matter of seed freshness and temperature.
Seeds from the previous year, of good quality, kept around 20C, will typically germinate within one week; older seeds and more-special species/types may let you wait 2 weeks.
It can take longer than 2 weeks, but those tend to be exceptional cases.
And with that, I wish you loads of fun. It’s a bit late to get started with the 2017 growing season, now that I’m writing this, though ;)