DevonChilliMan (DCM) is evolving his horticultural and catering enterprises the hell out of this epoch-defining covid-induced contretemps. And it’s inspiring to see. Acclaimed as one of the nicest guys in U.K. growing circles, DCM (AKA Cliff Hyslop) is an exemplar of how to turn a negative to a positive. The news from Devon is not just a queasy ‘triumph in the face of adversity’ either. We’ve also been getting the lowdown on all-new grow set-ups with exciting developments afoot in his three beautiful, sponsored, chilli-producing glasshouses.
Onboard with DCM for 2020 are an intriguing trio of premium brands, each taking a hand in providing nutrients and growing media for one of Cliff’s three glasshouses. The common denominator is ours truly. Cliff uses AutoPot 1Pot XL Watering Systems throughout and easy2Propagate for early stages. Crops for 2020 have been streamlined a little but remain an incredible cross section of flavoursome-yet-potent capsicums.
Along with Butch T Reapers, Aji Limon Chillies, West Indian Yellow Habaneros, Morugas, and Carolina Reapers there will be Jalapeños for Sweet Lillie’s Chilli Sauce and Chocolate Nagas for Henry’s Hot Sauce Purple Haze – Produced by Shawn Overthrow of Henry’s Hot Sauce. Personality being DCM’s forte, it’s no surprise that Sweet Lillie’s is a right characterful and fresh condiment, named for Cliff’s granddaughter. Quite visionary is the beetroot-based Purple Haze, created by combining the deep, earthy flavour of the beet with chocolate Nagas. The beets go on just about anything thanks to this fantastic sauce-vehicle but are ideally applied to pork, fish, cold cut meats, or…(wait for it)…cheeses! Breaking down exactly how he’s getting these grown, Cliff took us on a virtual tour of the glasshouses, detailing the arrangements therein.
Like the Ambassador’s Reception, Cliff’s propagation areas see hundreds of highly cultivated guests (seeds) introduced to tray after tray of lovingly prepared delicacies (Growth Technology Root Riot propagation pods). Unlike most good ambassadors, Cliff then stimulates his guests into germination using a very weak solution of Growth Technology Formulex under Sunblaster LEDs. Once propagation-ready the burgeoning chilli plants are popped in an easy2Propagate before progressing to 7cm pots, and thenceforth the 1Pot XLs.
This year Glasshouse One is the domain of Growth Technology. One hundred and forty 1Pot XL modules have been potted up with Gold Bag Special Mix; a blend of black peat, white peat and perlite providing a nice light structure. They were watered through and left for a week or so to establish with the system switched off, since then they’ve had two weeks on plain water and are now being teased with a 5ml/1L solution of Formulex. That solution strength will obviously ramp up as growth continues, peaking at 10ml/1L at around Week 5. As a single-part nutrient the Formulex is stunningly simple and, having used it very dilute at the propagation stage too, Cliff reckons it’s reputation for productivity, versatility, and pH stability is well justified. The spread of beautifully executed products continues in Glasshouse Two.
CYCO Coco Pearl 70/30 coco/perlite blend takes over in Glasshouse Two along with CYCO feeds. Feeding has been necessary from the outset given that the “unbelievably light and airy substrate” (the words of DCM) contains no inbuilt nutrient. That approach has clearly done no harm given the fashion in which the plants there are taking off. The 108 modules here have had two weeks with the system switched off whilst plants establish. Intermittent hand watering has taken place with solution drawn from a 225 L / 60 gal FlexiTank. In this case the solution includes 400ml Grow A, 400ml Grow B and 200ml Uptake. The CYCO is, by all accounts, very clean – like pharmaceutical-grade clean. The plants appear to be getting an extremely vigorous start to life which suggests the ingredients really are as pure as CYCO claim.
Re-entering the environs of planet DCM with maximum Impact, GroTek provide the feeds for Glasshouse Three. It’s a very welcome return to Cliff’s pepper production parade for the Canadian nutrient brand. Cliff will be using the Impact Grow A/B and Bloom A/B fertilisers as and when appropriate according to his/GroTek’s special ‘Chilli Recipe’. Grow A/B support four weeks of veg development. 1ml/1L of Grow A climbs to 2.5ml/1L by week 3 at a rate of +0.5ml per week before getting dialled back to 2ml/1L in the final week of vegging. Grow B takes a straight linear ascent from 0.5ml/1L to 2.5ml/L at +0.5ml/1L per week. Then comes the Bloom at a steady 2ml/1L for the duration of the crop. The Grow has been giving really nice veg growth, suggesting that Impact’s purported ease of nutrient uptake is absolutely bona-fide.
If variety is the spice of life Cliff must surely rank as one of the most piquant personalities in the U.K. right now. Unable to take his outside catering services on the road he has had to find diverse means of keeping business and income flowing. Like Moses but with artisan takeaway, he has been leading his incredible menu of professionally prepared meals to the promised land of south-west U.K. homes. If you are in his orbit you can order between Sundays and Wednesdays from a dazzling menu of dishes to receive on Fridays. Not only is he steeped in all-round culinary cognisance, DCM also knows precisely the properties of the chillies he’s using – that’s the magic! Who better to prepare chillies than the person who has selected and lovingly guided them from seed to harvest.