Pepper seeds take a long time to germinate, and once they have sprouted, take weeks to reach any sort of size.

Other than that frustration factor, they are fairly easy to grow from seed, and now is the time to plant them.

First, pick your varieties – and I stress the plural. You will want some sweet bell peppers such as Red Ace, because they go in so many recipes and are dead-cinch easy to freeze. You will want some banana peppers, such as Bananarama and Giant Marconi, because they are so great for grilling; these are still classified as sweet rather than hot but have a bit more kick than bell peppers. If you are a fan of hot peppers, grow those, too.

The plants will germinate more quickly if you soak them in water (or better yet, in weak chamomile tea, which dissolves the seed coating) for about eight hours. Plant them in individual pots or seed trays (your preference), just barely covering the seed. Peppers want warmer temperatures than you find in most Maine homes, so put them someplace warm – a heating tray, on top of your refrigerator or near the woodstove (not on it, of course) – until they sprout, and then move them to a south-facing window or under artificial lights.

Harden the seedlings off by putting them outside in the sun on warm days and back inside for the evenings. I find pepper seedlings a lot easier to grow than tomato seedlings because the peppers stand up straight and grow, while tomatoes start trying to branch and flop sideways if they don’t get enough light.

Don’t rush to put them in the garden. It takes a full frost to kill them, but they don’t like cold. Wait until at least May 30, and it won’t hurt to delay until mid-June.

Plant the seedlings about a foot apart. And although they can stand on their own, I stake mine to keep wind, critters, grandkids and the absent-minded me from knocking them over.

You should start getting green peppers by August. I pick them as we need them, but I wait until they are red for most of the harvest.