trouble growing peppers from seed!

I've generally started growing my seeds indoors early for transplanting outdoors when the weather gets nice enough. That works fine for everything except peppers. For those, I get stubbornly empty trays time after time. I just can't seem to figure out the proper combination of heat, moisture, and soil to get pepper seedlings. Anyone successfully done this? If so, do you use potting soil or garden soil? Keep them inside or outside? Heating cable or pad? Keep the soil wet or damp or allow it to dry? Any pointers appreciated.
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Tougher for me to start than tomatoes. I put in tray with moist potting soil covered with plastic wrap and put on top of water heater. When they sprout, I'll put in sunny room and remove plastic. Then, I transplant seedings to peat pots. This year took maybe 3-4 seeds to get one plant. I would discard unused seeds after 2 years and 2nd year germination rate will be worse.
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I've had success earlier with this year by using some good soil, combined with peat. The seeds I've messed with are green belle pepper seeds and red belle pepper seeds from the ones out of peppers at the grocery store.
I have about twenty belle pepper seeds outside now. Some are placed in the soil (ie, sand outside) and some others are in some composted soil. The ones in the composted soil are a couple feet tall now and the ones in the sand are struggling to grow. So that's telling me that a good rich soil helps, esp. a soil that holds moisture.
Also, the heat outside causes them to sprout within a week hear in Florida. The ones in the pots are 18" high now and the ones in the sand are 2" high, so you can get a good idea in the comparison.
Furthermore, I had one in a very small pot with composted soil. It outgrew the pot pretty quick and last week I moved it to a sandy soil area and it's starting to sprout pretty good and is about 18" high like the other peppers in bigger pots. So you can start them out in very small pots with nicely composted soil and then move them to another unenriched area after they reach 8" to 9" and they seem like they'll take but the peppers will take longer to come about.
Also, I've had to move all my potted peppers to shaded areas. They don't seem to handle 90 degree temps too well in full sun.
Hope that helps.
-- Jim Carlock Please post replies to newsgroup.
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they are amongst the toughest seeds to take to completion. Erratic, late germination, disease prone, weaker seedlings. Planted at the same time, my peppers are one to two inches, and my tomatoes are 15-20 inches. You can improve your chances by using the freshest seeds, sterilized trays, and fresh potting soil. Heat helps, though I get it cheaply from the top of the refrigerator (need to check daily to make sure they are taken to a light spot as soon as they germinate). I don't even use fresh seeds, but I keep all my seeds in the freezer, so they are always fresh.
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Dennis Edward said:

I use peat pellets and bottom heating pad, and sow twice as many pellets as I want final plants. The pellets are kept in a covered container (I use trays with lids from a local Thai carryout).
It is imperative to open the lids once the seeds have sprouted (shuffling the pellets around if neccessary to give the slowpokes and extra chance). Toothpicks with a small numbered flag (made from bits of address labels) and a sheet assigning numbers to various varietes keeps everything ID'ed during shuffles.
I've found that I have particular problems with pepper seeds from one source, though I really love the company for most other things. Their seeds just seem to be prone to mold rather than sprout. (Perhaps they would do better in plastic pots with sterilized potting soil rather than peat pellets.)
Treated seeds generally have a higher germination rate for me that untreated seeds. Or maybe it's just that the company with the treated seeds (Stokes) has superior seeds.
--
Pat in Plymouth MI ('someplace.net' is comcast)

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Okay, not about peppers but tomatoes. I tried growing some big boys from seeds this year for teh first time. I put them in a container did as the packaged instructed. It's been 2 weeks, should I have seen something sprout? I didn't really cover them with anything so is this a problem?

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Ottawa - did you keep them watered everyday? How deeply did you plant them in the soil?
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