Germinating old hot pepper seeds.

I have some seeds from a very special hot pepper plant that are several years old. They were dried in the pod. I've tried planting them in dirt about one inch down in a peat pellet that I've been keeping moist and on the kitchen counter.
It's been 4 weeks now and I see no sprouts. Is there a better method for me to use to get the seeds to germinate?
I've been told to scuff the outside of the seed and to use a heating pad under it peat pellet. I only have about 10 more seeds.
If someone could tell me a sure-fire way of doing this, I'd be very grateful.
Thanks.
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Try putting the seeds on damp kitchen tissue in a tray, with a cover to keep the light out. Then you can see when they germinate, and plant them as they sprout. You can also control the dampness, if you can't see what's going on, the seeds may be rotting. Have you retrieved any for a look?
Steve
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I'm a total newbie, but I just started several pepper plants (and tomatoes, broccoli, chamomile and mint) from seed. From what I read, you are supposed to plant the seeds only about as deep as 2 or 3 times the width of the seed. I planted mine so about 1/4" and they germinated and grew fine (about 20 out of 21 are now strong little seedlings). Perhaps you planted them too deeply.
Also, I used a sterile, soilless potting medium made of milled shagnum peat moss (ProMix, about $9 for a big bag). After several times of experimenting, I finally learned not to add anything to the potting medium -- nitrogen feeds the bad mold and fungi. I also learned to sprinkle powdered cinnamon on the surface after planting the seed. This really does help prevent the dreaded dampening off disease that kills seedlings. I also used a heat mat under the seedlings and kept them under a cheap flourescent shop light.
Hope that helps.
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On 8 Mar 2006 05:53:31 -0800, norman snipped-for-privacy@fastmail.fm wrote:

That's too deep for a pepper seeds. As someone else said, no more than a quarter inch deep, and don't pack it too tight. However, that being said, some chilis can take almost a month to germinate. What kind do you have?
Gently split one of the peat pellets open and see if the seed has germinated and is just too deep. If so, very, very gently replant it at the surface, root down.

If the seeds are several years old, they may not germinate at all. How were the dried pods stored?

Keeping the soil the seeds are in at 70 F will speed germination, but I wouldn't scarify a pepper seed. Scarifying only helps with thick coated seeds, it lets the water get in to the seedling. Pepper seeds are too thin coated, water gets into them easily, and you would probably damage the seedling. Soaking them wouldn't hurt, but, in my opinion, it doesn't help much, either.

Since these are special seeds of some sort, I would recommend using something larger than the peat pellets. You can use peat pots , small plastic flower pots, or 16 oz disposable plastic drinking cups (poke some drain holes in the bottom). Use a commercial seed starting mixture, and use bottom heat, ie, a seed starting mat or hot pad. Don't over water, the soil should be moist, but not wet. You might want to consider using the plastic pots or cups because it's a little easier to manage the moisture level correctly than when using peat pots*.
Once the seeds germinate, they'll need light. Shop lights work just fine, but put the seedlings very close to the light, the light should be less than a foot about the tray. You can also run aluminum foil along the edge of the light down to the tray to reflect more light onto the seedlings. Once a day or so, gently shake your seedling to stimulate thicker stem growth.
After about 6 or 8 weeks, the plants will be ready to transplant. Don't move pepper plants outside until the night time temperatures are 50 F or above, and remember to harden off the seedlings first.
Good luck with this, and please feel free to ask for clarification if anything here has confused you.
Penelope
* don't get me wrong, I love peat pots, but they can go from being moist to too dry during the typical 8 hour work day if you're using bottom heat.
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norman snipped-for-privacy@fastmail.fm writes:

Hard-to-start pepper seeds (that have been stored properly) can usually be persuaded to sprout by a combination of:
1. Soaking the seeds 2. Planting in moist vermiculite, and applying bottom heat
I've successfully germinated hard-to-start pepper seeds (including wild ones) by soaking them in (in order of preference) a gibberellic acid solution[1], weak tea solution[2], a bleach solution, or a potassium nitrate solution. What you use will depend on what you have on hand.
After soaking them, plant them in moist vermiculite (I find that peat pellets are too dense, and that they dry out too quickly). The seeds should be pushed just below the surface. If possible, apply bottom heat with a germination mat (I try to keep the soil temperature between 80 - 90 degrees. You'll get more sprouts at a lower temperature, but they'll sprout faster at a higher temperature).
Good luck.
Regards, Greg
[1] http://www.jlhudsonseeds.net/GibberellicAcid.htm [2] http://faq.gardenweb.com/faq/lists/pepper/2002074906031735.html
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it usually take about a month to germinate them, doesn't it? I would give it anther week then dig one up and see what is going on.
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:) Lynn <---DOF Leaper
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Thank you to all of you that answered my questions. I obviously planted them too deep. I'm going to use a 6" pot and try again with only 1/4 inch below the soil. I'll keep it in a warm place.
Thanks again for all of the advice.
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