My good friend Harald Zoschke in Bardolino, Italy, has come up with 7 Hacks for Chile Gardeners. The other 6 are here.
Chile Hack #3: Teabag Protection
Chile peppers cross-pollinate easily, which leads to unpredictable results in the next generation grown from those seeds. If you need pure seeds, you need to protect the flower from undesired pollination by insects and let it pollinate itself. How? For single fruit you can shield a blossom with garden fleece shortly before its opening. I prefer using self-fill tea bags, available for example from Melitta. These are also made from porous filter paper and are easy to handle. Just put it over a blossom that hasn’t opened yet, and tie a piece of wire around the bottom end.
The first part of the picture shows just that. Peeking 9 days later, a nice fruit has developed. A good two months later, that fruit has fully ripened and provided plenty of pure seeds.
The example shows NuMex 6-4 Heritage. The seed supply for my favorite New Mexican chile got a little dated, so I had to produce some fresh seeds. I was not surprised that the new seeds gave me a 100% germination rate this year. Now all I need is a nice summer!