Another swathe of UK chilli growing territory has fallen in love with AutoPot, the shires are tumbling and the feeling at APHQ is humbling. Hot on the heels of The Oxfordshire Chilli Farm, Devon Chilli Man and Dean Finlay’s Bedfordshire ChilliLab come Price’s Spices and Warwickshire Chilli Farm.
Price’s Spices produce artisan sauces, chutneys and spices packed with flavour and using homogeneously produced ingredients. It all started in 2013 when chilli fan, grower and chef Michael Price produced a home grown harvest of exceptional quality and volume. Consuming the chillies privately – or in public for that matter – was not possible and Michael was soon drawn in by the powerful, ancient and irresistible gravity of the spice trade. Tale as old as time! Trading at one chilli festival begat trading at yet more chilli festivals and soon Michael had surrendered to the flavour of his destiny – to become became a full-time spice magnate. His innovative and delicious recipes have been quite rightly garlanded for the balance they strike between freshness of approach, powerful spice and rounded, authentic flavour.
2018 sees Price’s Spices upscale their growing operations with AutoPot involved at every stage. This year the planting, germination and propagation processes will remain at headquarters in Royal Leamington Spa. Meanwhile a few miles further afield the Warwickshire Chilli Farm will accommodate the main growing operation in several brand-new, AutoPot-filled, commercial-size polytunnels.
At headquarters Michael reports that the early stages of 2018 growth are ticking over beautifully. At only 3 weeks post-sowing the germination rate is very good. By mid-Feb there were only 3 varieties left to sow (Aji Limon, Jalapeño & Red Habanero) and all told it seems that, year-on-year, things are streamlining and becoming more and more established.
Propagation duties are being conferred upon a quintet of easy2Propagate units fed by a 225L FlexiTank Pro. After a couple of days soaking and stabilising the pH of the easy2Propagate’s coir matting Michael’s preferred nutrients of CANNA Start has been added and the plants are in place. Raised on a Danish Trolley the propagators are safely clear of the adverse effects of floor temperature. Grown entirely in natural daylight Michael reasons that the plants will be spared the potential damage of moving away from grow lamps to sunlight at a later date.
The progress and output of Michael’s Chilli Farm is connected, but by no means limited, to the production of Price’s Spices brands. The Warwickshire Chilli Farm will represent a whole separate entity with it’s own world of creative possibilities, commercial applications and collaborative experimentation. The AutoPots for the main growing operation are set to spin into action this April.
Here we’re looking forward to big things with three hundred and fifty XL WhitePot modules – wild, hot and spicy valkyries furiously driving the diverse and delicious coach of Price’s chutney passion through the poly tunnels. Alongside, elevated and irrigated on roller benches, will be a rapturous choir of some hundred 1Pots housing smaller chillies and other constituent ingredients. It promises to be quite a show!
For any passionate chilli growers, Price’s Spices have also written a cross-platform web app which is free for anyone to use (in return for a Facebook fan page like!) simply go to iharvest.pricesspices.com and you can track which varieties you’re growing, when you harvest them and view charts on weights and quantities as well as logging nutrients and water usage. We’ve really enjoyed working with Price’s so far, their products really reflect their ethos: truly professional and passionate growers, open to embracing new ideas in their quest to learn yet more.