Spring report from Alex at The Upton Cheyney Chilli Company

by Duckboy on April 10, 2011 · 0 comments

in General Information

With a lovely feel of Spring in the air, we were very pleased yesterday to finish off the two new poly tunnels, that will increase our covered growing area from 2880sq/ft to nearly 5200sq/ft.

Poly tunnels on the farm

Poly tunnels on the farm ...

The first new tunnel is sponsored by the well respected Bristol based company Barts Spices, who are keen to grow chillies in the UK for use in a range of limited edition spices. Being their first year, we are very proud to have been asked to grow on their behalf seven different varieties from mild to super hot, in order for them to experiment with the finished fruits and work out which chilli best suits their needs. Chillies being grown for Bart Spices this year include, Madre Verha, Indian PC1 and Fatalli. Like all of our tunnels, the Barts Spices tunnel is open to visit, with our farm shop also stocking their delicious spice range.

The second new tunnel has been built solely for the cultivation of Jalapeno’s. Using Early Jalapeno’s for their high heat levels, these pods will be used in a new range of Jalapeno sauces, with a green, mild sauce and a red, hot sauce being available from July onwards. Many of the pods will be oak smoked and turned into Chipotle’s for use in our most popular and delicious sauce – Oak Smoked Chipotle.

Smoking is going to be big for us this year, with the construction of a large smokehouse. The smokehouse will be big enough to smoke many 1000’s of chillies at any one time. Naturally we will be smoking Jalapeno’s for Chipotles, but also smoking Naga’s and 7 Pots for use in our super hot sauce – The Upton Smokey Dragon!

As well as the Barts Spices tunnel, one of the older tunnels is being converted into a show tunnel this year, with one of the UK’s top chilli guru – Matt Simpson of Simpson Seeds – growing over 100 different varieties to stock the tunnel. We are also going to make a fun attempt at growing the new worlds hottest chilli. In the middle of the show tunnel will be a 7 Pot – already a super hot chilli. Plan is to stress the plant into growing the hottest ever pod – by shouting at it! Please feel free to come along and give it some stick!

Germination has now finished and the logistics of irrigating and feeding many 1000’s of small plants is daunting! The majority of the plants are now out in the tunnels on heated mats. Problem with this time of the year is the hot days (which can see poly tunnel temperature in excess of 50C) and cold nights where the temperatures in the tunnel can drop way below the minimum recommended temperature for chilli plants of 10oC. It is essential that we do not leave the plants for long without checking them, so a well beaten path is being worn between our chilli HQ and the farm!

So, that’s about it for now, over the next few weeks we will be re-building the raised beds, removing 1000’s of stones (which is the only downside to the land that we are on), putting in the leaky hose irrigation system, fixing the weed control covers and finally planting the chillies into the soil. Once the plants are in the soil, the hard work is done, and we can sit back and enjoy until harvest starts early July.

The tunnels are open to visit, from the day that we plant out in late April/early May, although at this stage of development there is not much to really see. It is however interesting to visit over the course of the year to see how the plants develop, from small shoots into a bushy colorful and aromatic chilli jungle!

One last note – look out for the monkey’s that we have hidden in the Simpson Seeds show tunnel this year, as well as our new super hot 7 pot based sauce – The Megalodon! See you up the farm.

 

Alex and Louise.
The Upton Cheyney Chilli Company.
www.uptonchilli.co.uk

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