UK Growers

A while ago we proposed an award for the company/individual that has impressed us/you with their effort, commitment and enthusiasm to promote and expand their business.

We asked for recommendations, and two people stood out from the rest by the number of recommendations, after much deliberation we had to pick just one winner this year.

And in the gold envelope this year is…… Cliff Hyslop AKA The Devon Chilliman.

Cliff Hyslop Win The ChileFoundry Award 2015

We selected Cliff as after twenty+ years in the food industry he started The Devon ChilliMan Business and glammed up one of his catering vans with a vinyl chilli coating. Then this year he took on a very major and very altruistic endeavor of working inside Channingswood Prison to take over their 7 massive and then unused polytunnels, working with unskilled prisoners, to grow over 2000 chilli plants using the Autopot water system and a feed from Growth Technology.

As you can imagine this is a big gamble and it has taken almost all of Cliff’s time and energy to make it happen, he has even ended up with a serious stay in Hospital. This success of the prison project has seen Chilli Pods become a tradable commodity at the prison and there are lots of stories to be told about what you can and cannot leave lying around that could be used to aid and escape.

After growing a range of chilies Cliff has to sell his crop to recoup the ever growing setup/running costs, and I am happy to say he has managed to do this in his first year with still some pods left to pick and from what I have seen he has some very happy new customers from all around the country.

Just incase you wondered who the runner up was this year is was the amazing Adam Marks from Mr Vikki’s who always seem to do an amazing job producing gold medal winning chilli products.

We would like to thank all the readers who recommended people/companies for this award.

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My wife and I have been running our catering business since 1990. Although we love what we do, my real underlying passion has been all things Chilies for around 20 years, yes I’m what’s known as a “Chillihead” With this passion (obsession maybe) we have decided to diversify and create “Devonchilliman

In 2013 I went from growing around a dozen chili plants at home to growing 200+ plants and rented 5 x plots in a local community shared glasshouse in Teignbridge.I had a very successful harvest of which I decided to use the chillies in our produce & started to make products with them, we then decided to have a catering unit wrapped in a chilli theme and it’s first outing was at “The Great Dorset Chilli Festival” of which was a huge and enjoyable success. The products we sold were ChilliSteakburgers, Chilli Hot Dogs, Pakora Battered Jalapenos. We almost sold out of our entire stock of Jalapenos in the first day but luckily DARTH NAGA and JAMIE SYTHES were at hand & rushed off to the Wiltshire Chilli Farm to harvest more !.

DevonChilliman Signs of lifeI now rent a 36 meter glasshouse and in 2014 grew 600+ chili plants and now have a website which is www.Devonchilliman.co.uk of which I sold fresh UK grown chilies and sent out via post/courier to my customers. I have just started as of 14th January 2015 sowing my seeds for the 2015 growing season. Last year I soaked the seeds in a week black tea solution as I heard that the tannin in tea softens the seed casing and then I planted them into compost in my Propagator. This year I have soaked some but not all, I currently have almost 400 x seeds in “GRODAN” cubes of which I soaked the cubes in a week solution of “Canna Start” 1ml/1Litre of water they are now in the Propagator set at 27°C and they are starting to germinate already. This I find the exciting part of the season!

After trailing products from Greenhouse Sensations and Growth Technology I am starting to experiment with more advanced propagation techniques this year, namely the hydropod an aeroponic unit.

I plan to move the seedlings when the first set of true leaves appear to the hydropod and am looking forward to the results.

Progress will be updated each month in my column on the ChileFoundry.

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Phil and Kay Palmer who run Dartmoor Chilli Farm have a great set up, nestled in the beautiful Dartmoor National Park, Devon. They farm chillies in a very environmentally friendly way being “off grid” for electricity and water, utilising the suns rays and wind for energy generation, and use rainwater harvesting. This is a very commendable way to live and run a business.

Being on National Park land comes with a lot of rules and regulations which would put a lot of people off, but not Phil and Kay, they perservere through some testing times, especially with the weather 2012 has and is still throwing at us!

They sell their own handmade chilli sauces, chocolate, fudge, plants and fresh chillies plus a whole load more.

One different product they do sell is a years membership to their Chilli Club, something that I got from Father Christmas last year.

It costs £29 and consists of products being sent at different times of the year including chutneys/sauces/plants/chocolate/liquid feed and fresh pods.

The Club is an exclusive one and membership is limited to 30. It is available now via the Dartmoor Chilli Farm website . Initially you receive a giftcard like the picture which can then be used as a card if the membership is a gift for someone else and then the other items follow in due course.

Now as Christmas fast approaches, to wish their customers a happy festive season, Phil and Kay are offering a special 15% discount for Chilefoundry readers on all products except the CHILLI CLUB as that is run as a non profit making item. To receive the discount simply enter the code CHILEFOUNDRY on checkout, which is valid on all orders up until the 25th December.

If you haven’t ever checked out their website, go take a look, there will definately be something to interest you!

 

 

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For those of you who dont have the time, or the greenfingers to try the germination game but want to grow Chillies (plus Tomatoes and other Peppers). Potters Plants could be for you. Here’s Richard to tell us a bit more about the company;

 

“Established in 2010, Potters Plants was born out of a small family business selling bedding and tomato plants to local people. My Dad (Wilf Potter) has been a keen gardener for some 50 years, selling many varieties of plants lovingly reared from seed at his home nursery in Chesterfield.

I got into chilli’s some years ago, growing several varieties with varying results, but with help and knowledge from Dad I was able to get some good crops, and friends would often ask for the produce ! Being a web developer, it wasn’t long before I had a little website and a eBay page and a few plants listed for sale.

Now in our third year , thriving on the experience from family know how, we’ve got a refined range of sweet peppers, tomato plants and chilli plants available to buy as plug plants from our online shop http://www.pottersplants.co.uk/

We grow our chilli’s organically from seed, in temperature regulated propagators, setting them nice and early so we can make the most of the growing season. Once the seedlings have established, we pop them gently into Jiffy 7 Coco Coir plugs, and grow them on until they have about five pairs of leaves, at which point they are ready for shipping.

We use recycled, recyclable plastic packets which are designed specially to hold the young plant in place, supply light and keep them moist. The packets are small enough to fit through a standard letterbox so you don’t have to worry about waiting in for the postie on delivery day. Simply open the packet, make three holes in your growbag and pop ’em in!

In essence our mission is to give chilli fanatics a head start by doing the tricky germination and supplying healthy, strong young plants which should hopefully produce plenty of delicious chilli fruits, and in the process help reduce some of the impact caused by imported chilli fruits on the environment.

It’s our belief that a home grown fruit tastes a lot better , cost less and just makes you feel all round better about yourself than those on the supermarket shelf !”

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