The team of Bountiful Seeds has been growing chillies more or less as a hobby for years but it is only when the website and business were properly set up that the growing process had to be carefully honed in order to fulfil our own personal wishes and of course the customers’ needs.  

 

Integrity means a lot to us so we were keen to do things right from the start. A lot of growers just plant chilli seeds and hope for the best but we wanted to prove to the chilli industry that we were serious from the start and knew what we were doing. And in view of the wholesale and retail orders we have had this year we think we may have made a very big first step towards proving ourselves to people we look up to although we are more than aware that there is a very long way to go yet. 

 

Far from resting on our laurels, we have lots of ideas, projects and plans for the years to come so instead of thinking: “what now?” we really have to refrain ourselves from putting the cart before the horse on a daily basis, the boss definitely being the worst culprit. 

 

This was obvious from the start of the year 2012 when the latter decided to just grow pretty much anything he could get his hands on (including tomatoes, cucumbers, gherkins and cooking herbs!) but had to be reminded that we actually don’t quite own 10,000 hectares of land just yet! 

 

So all in all he managed to sow “only” 74 different varieties of chillies at the dismay of the team who knew they would have to deal with the watering and general tending of the plants as well as processing the ripe fruits but the end result was well worth the hard work (as you can see from some of the pictures that were posted on our facebook account throughout the year).  

 

From the start the boss was keen to experiment different types of growing techniques with chilli seeds so the plantation was divided in two i.e the business side, which contained all of the specifically isolated chilli plants that would be harvested for our stock, and the experimental side which was a mix and match of various strains and random chilli seeds that we were given so we could see what came of it all. And boy were we surprised, not only by the amount (and sometimes really weird shapes, sizes and colours!) of chillies that we got out of both harvests but also by the health of the plants which were grown, if not strictly organically, at least without any chemical pesticide. The bad weather in July delayed the maturing of some superhot varieties so the pods were a bit late to reach their final stage and some unfortunately didn’t make it before the cold set in but overall we are very happy with the results we got on both sides of the polytunnels. 

 

The next phase after picking all of the chillies was of course taking the seeds out. This was accomplished over the course of a few weeks depending on the varieties and a lot of laughter was heard (some concern might have also been shown sometimes!…) on various occasions when members of the team got affected by the overwhelming fumes of capsaicin in the air, scratched their skin or rubbed their eyes inadvertently whilst cutting chillies up. But hey… it’s all part of the “fun” of growing chillies! 

 

A big part of the experiments at Bountiful Seeds in 2012 was smoking chillies to obtain that wonderful flavour chipotles are known for, for example. We purchased a cold smoker and built a special wooden container around it to accommodate more chillies than you would find on commercial smokers and used oak wood dust to start with. After a bit of trial and error the results were pretty convincing and we are now really looking forward to using different types of wood and see what flavours we come up with. 

 

After collecting the seeds we were of course left with a tremendous amount of fresh pods so instead of chucking it all away or risking a chilli overdose we decided to dry them all using a special dehydrator. We ended up with bags of very colourful dried chillies that we turned into flakes, left whole or converted into powder using a spice grinder. We played around a bit, mixing different varieties of chillies to create chilli powders that would have the perfect balance of heat and flavour whilst looking attractive. We definitely weren’t prepared for all the hues of colours we got from the chilli powders from bright yellow to sunset orange, dark red and even a beautiful pastel green which proved to be deceptively hot!  

 

The end of the year has of course been used to clear out the polytunnels, clean all the pots and replenish our stock while doing some maintenance work on the Bountiful Seeds’ website. We had to select new varieties to grow for 2013 while dealing with the many orders that are now coming in since the planting season is about to start. 

 

So overall, despite being still relatively small Bountiful Seeds is definitely ready for bigger and better things and we cannot wait to see what the future months, let alone years, bring us…


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