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Commercial Chilli Farm tour


Wade
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On Friday last week I visited a commercial chilli farm in Bedfordshire and took part in one of their organised tours. I have visited chilli growers before however I was looking forward to seeing a large commercial grower in action. The grower was Edible Ornamentals in Chawston. 

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We arrived at the farm at 10:40 ready for the 11:00 tour and were greeted with a smile by Joanna.While we were waiting to register we had a wander around one of their greenhouses where they had chilli plants for sale. There was a very good selection of varieties - from the mildest to the hottest - interspersed with a few growing cucumbers and squash.

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We then met the others who were on the tour in the cafe where Joanna gave a very good talk and demonstration on how to sow and propagate chillies from seed and also their growing care and how to maximise chilli fruit production.

We were then taken on a tour of the commercial poly tunnels where the chillies were being grown.

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The chillies are propagated from fresh seed each year and are grown hydroponically. Chillies grow in "pots" of rockwool which are each provided with controlled amounts of water. The nutrient levels and amount of water are varied depending on the day length, amount of sunlight and the temperature to ensure that optimal growing conditions are maintained.

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Whilst we were in the tunnels we were all given a carrier bag and were allowed to pick as many chillies as we could use. As I am about to pickle/smoke a lot of my own chillies I mainly picked the milder Jalapenos but I did collect a few Habanero  chillies too. About 2 Kg in all.

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After the tour of the poly tunnels we went back to the cafe for some chilli tasting. Joanna had a dozen different chillies lined up for us to taste - from the very mild right up to the current official hottest (Carolina Reaper). Glasses of milk were on hand for anyone in pain :S.

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We also got to taste a wide range of chilli based products made from their chillies. Most were made on the farm but some were made by by their customers.

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After the tour and tasting were complete we decided to eat in the cafe before returning home. The food contained their chillies (of course :D) and was good value and of excellent quality. I had one of their burgers however their chilli was made from their own Mesquite smoked brisket and it smelled divine.

If you are looking to see how a commercial chilli farm works and want to try the widest range of chillies and chilli products then I would highly recommend Edible Ornamentals as a fun and informative experience.

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