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I ordered a variety of types of chilli seed (habanero, jalapeno, anaheim) because I can't buy these types of chilli here. I've never grown anything from seed before, so I think I approached this a bit naively. I took some regular garden compost from our compost bin, filled up some egg cartons with it, and put two seeds in each compartment of compost. I then covered the cartons with plastic and left them to germinate. This was about five days ago.

However, since doing some more research I have doubts that my method will work because:

a) apparently I should have used special seed compost instead of garden compost, and b) I don't really have anywhere in my house that is going to be regularly 20 degrees +, so will they ever germinate?

I'm wondering if I should gently extract the seeds from the compost-filled egg cartons, and start again? I could easily order some special seed compost, but I'm not sure how to fix the problem of constant 20-30 degree heat. Any advice or suggestions would be welcome.

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Do not worry. I just never used the "plastic" above the seeds. I know that paper was used, but I never cared much. I also seed plants on my greenhouse, when the temperature is a lot less 20 degrees. It just will take some more time, but do not worry.

Do no worry much about soil. Seeds need just humidity, no nutrients. Old (and compost) dirt have just more risk to have diseases/rot. I do not know if your compost is mature.

I think now you should just wait. After 20 days I would worry (but I waited much more, also because often I plant too early).

I do not know how many seeds you had, but usually it is good to plant only some (one plant will produce many chilli anyway), and wait later to plant the second batch: you never know weather, slugs, birds, and other accidents.

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If your garden compost was produced in the manner most of us do, that is, just chucking it in the bin and leaving it to get on with it, rather than turning a couple of times a week, then your compost may contain pathogens and is not suitable for use in pots at all. On the other hand, if the compost happens not to contain any pathogens, you might find your seeds germinate and grow anyway.

If you want to start again, and if you can, order some John Innes seed and cutting compost, that's the best one to use, but you may want to consider buying a heated propagator - ones that fit on windowsills are available in the UK. Chili seeds do need to be sown early in the UK because our summers are not usually long enough for the fruit to ripen before autumn arrives. If you don't want the expense of a heated propagator, then a seed tray with a clear plastic lid would be better because that will be warmer than the surrounding air temperature. Once germination takes place, the seedlings should be pricked out into small pots - at that stage, it might be a little difficult to keep them warm enough, but chilis can take quite a long time to germinate, so hopefully, by the time they do, air temperatures will be warmer. As the plants grow on a bit, a sunny windowsill will help.

Info on growing from seed in the UK here https://www.southdevonchillifarm.co.uk/how-to/growing-chilli-plants/

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