June 2013

For many, like myself, growing Chillies is a hobby or indeed an obsession. It certainly is addictive and immensely satisfying when that first pod appears on the plant you have tended, but Chillies are renowned for being difficult to germinate from seed, unlike other fruit like tomatoes which will germinate readily and in pretty much any environment.

Chilli seeds need a constant heat, ideally a heated propagator and a lot of patience is required! If you want to grow pods but don’t want the mess and the hassle then Potters Plants could be for you.

Way back at the beginning of the year when the country was shivering Richard Potter who runs the family business sent me three little Chilli plug plants for a review. I received a Naga Morich, Moruga Scorpion and a Red Scotch Bonnet.

 

The plants arrived securely in the pack and ready to be potted on, the compost was still very moist and although a little bent over which is understandable after a couple of days trapped in the postal system, they straightened up.

These were very quickly potted on and sat on my windowsill gaining as much natural light as I could. I tried to avoid using my grow lights as most casual growers would not have these to hand.

As soon as the weather allowed I transferred these to my heated poly tunnel in my garden. They have sat in there getting potted on into steadily bigger sized pots.

A good sign with these plugs was that they were completely clear of Aphids, the bain of Chilli growers up and down the country. I have often bought Chilli plug plants from big garden centres and find they are infested which is very bad news for young plants.

So here we have the three plants now, a little bigger and the Scotch Bonnet (right) already has pods growing. The other two would always take longer to produce fruit.  As a general rule the hotter the variety is going to be, the longer the pods take to form and ripen.

So here we have from left to right, the Naga Morich, Moruga Scorpion and the Red Scotch Bonnet.

So there you have it, from as little as £2-£4 for 3 plug plants plus postage they are good value.

I think they are sold out for this year of plug plants but are definitely worth keeping an eye on for next years season. They also sell tomato and sweet pepper plants too.

 

 

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It may be more than a year away but better get the dates in your diary but the team behind chillifest-ne.co.uk & properfoodanddrinkfestivals.co.uk are delighted to announce the return of a chilli festival to the lakes after a few years absence.

To be held at Dalemain Mansion & Historic gardens over the weekend of the 2nd & 3rd of august 2014,  The New lakes Chillifest promises to bring the heat back to the lakes and Cumbria.

Aerial DalemainOrganiser Mark Deakin said “We really missed coming over to the lakes for the chilli festival and it was a really great event not just for the local traders but also the chilli community as a whole.

So after the success of our North East event we decided to start looking for venues in the lakes and came across the amazing Dalemain mansion, the owners Mr & Mrs McCosh who actually live in the house were keen to push this forward and we are delighted to be able to secure this amazing Place as the venue for The Lakes Chilli fest 2014″

Local Chilli producer Mr Vikkis said “the lakes has been sorely missing a chilli festival and we are delighted that 2014 will see the return of what promises to be a fantastic event to The Lakes “

For further info please contact info@thelakeschillifest.co.uk

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I look forward to any event which is hosted at a chilli farm or nursery. I’m not sure if it’s the intrigue of someone else’s growing setup or just the sense of awe at seeing row after row of chilli plants.

Last weekend I had the pleasure of attending one of the first events on the 2013 chilli calendar; the Simpson’s Seeds Day of Fire and Spice. Simpson’s Seeds occupy a walled garden nursery in the beautiful Wiltshire village of Horningsham. The village forms part of the Longleat estate which is famed for its large country house and safari park. Historically, a team of gardeners at the nursery produced flowers, fruit and vegetables for the house. The grape vines and peach trees may be long gone now, but the raised beds help the nursery maintain a traditional feel.

The Walled Garden Nursery

This event has been running for a few years now and is coordinated by proprietor Matt Simpson. It’s primarily a plant sale, but Matt also invites a handful of guest stallholders along to sell their chilli products too.

The event kicked off at 11am, although a few eager chilli-heads had arrived earlier in the morning to ensure that they got their hands on some of Matt’s more unusual chilli plants. Two of the more interesting varieties were Gibbering Idiot and Goats Weed – a Capsicum Annuum variety which is thought to originate from Venezuela.

The Gibbering Idiot is a new Habanero variety which is being developed by Simpson’s Seeds and was only available in limited quantities on the day. Needless to say they were all snapped up very quickly!

 Gibbering Idiot

In total, there were over 30 varieties of chilli on offer in the glass house. These were complemented by a wide range of sweet peppers, herbs and tomatoes too. During the day, Matt was on hand to give customers expert advice and insightful recommendations. Matt has written books on both chillies and tomatoes and really knows his stuff.

Outside in the sunshine were stands from Deer’s Leap Chillies and the Upton Cheyney Chilli Company. The Deer’s Leap Chillies stall had a lovely selection of condiments including a delicious lime pickle and a spicy Sicilian style sauce that I am looking forward to trying later this week.

Matt Simpson with Sarah Gratton of Deer’s Leap Chillies

The Upton Cheyney Chilli Company stall was manned by a few members of the Clifton Chilli Club. Customer favourites included their Megalodon and Oak Smoked Chipotle sauces, the latter of which sold out just as I arrived at the event.

 Matt checking out the range of sauces from the Upton Cheyney Chilli Company

Inside, there was a vast array of seeds from the Simpson’s Seeds catalogue and a selection of Matt’s “Yummyliscous” sauces too. The sauces included the award-winning Horny Goat and the humorously named Sillius Soddus which took pride of place on the “Nutters Table”.

The “Nutters Table”

After a steady stream of visitors, the event drew to a close at around 4pm. Several had travelled from as far as Birmingham and Swansea but had been rewarded with the fantastic range of plants and chilli products that were available on the day. A few growers from other southwest chilli farms were also spotted throughout the day which just goes to show how friendly the chilli community is.

Last to leave were a few members of the Clifton Chilli Club who decided to film a video review in the glass house. The backdrop of “Nutter’s Corner” seemed particularly apt as they sampled a new chilli extract product from Bristol-based Dr Burnorium.

Clifton Chilli Club reviewing a product in “Nutters Corner”.

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First there was 10 minute burn, then along came 15 minute burn, and now Ged Fowler of The Chilli Pepper Company has ramped up the heat once again for this seasons Chilli Festivals with the release of 20 minute burn (as if the other 2 were not enough!)

20 Minute BurnThe Company’s best selling sauce “10 Minute Burn” had to be removed from sale at Four chilli festivals, Brighton’s famous Fiery Foods Show, the Newcastle Chilli and Beer Festival, Benington Lordship and the Lakes Chilli Fest after a number of customers who tried it  suffered hallucinations and what was described as “an Episode” and ended up rolling around on the grass in pain, suffering from its extreme heat.

Although many who tried it found it the most extreme thing they have ever tasted and happily bought it, the organisers were    instructed by their health and safety and PR advisers to have the sauce removed from sale and ban it from the show.  This is a rare event at a Chilli Show, only one other sauce many years ago was ever banned from a chilli show.

Ged is well known for his extreme sauces, the UK version of Blair.

20 minute burn is available now from The Chilli Pepper Website now for £7 plus postage. The first batch of 30ml bottles have been wax sealed for the collectors out there, when these have sold it will revert to a standard bottle.

Our very own Darth Naga is building himself up as we speak for a video review of this which will be one video you don’t want to miss! but while you wait, here is Darth Naga reviewing 10 minute burn. It’s an oldie but a goodie!

And if that’s not enough, here he is with 15 minute burn!

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