Sunday, April 6, 2014

Three Sisters

Painted Mountain corn, Uchiki Kuri winter squash and Lazy Housewife beans.

This post is a litany of good intentions, naive stupidity and learning from mistakes. You are completely excused for groaning at my ineptitude, or my missing of the bleeding obvious, but, to give me a little credit, although I make a lot of mistakes I'm (sometimes) good at learning from them, and I'm sharing them here so that you can learn from them too.

The Three Sisters is a planting method based on a traditional American technique of which I have only a very tenuous understanding. Native American gardens are complex and are based upon values including nutrition, flavour, stewardship of land and soil, and the spiritual significance of specific varieties of plants and parts of plants. The commonly understood Three Sisters planting includes squash (or pumpkins), corn and climbing beans grown on mounds together, but has countless variations depending on the climate, soil or the gardener. The theory behind the method is that the beans fix nitrogen for the corn and squash, the squash suppresses weeds and provides ground cover, and the corn supports the climbing beans. 

Here at Provenance Growers we're super keen on polyculture. Growing more than one crop in the same bed can be a really efficient use of space. Some crops can be complimentary to each other's needs as in the scenario above, others just get along well enough that we can increase our yield from a bed by sowing faster growing crops amongst slower ones, others involve planting a new crop among one that is almost finished (right now I'm planning to sow broad bean seed under our tomato plants, when we're done with the tomatoes I'll cut them off at ground level and our beans will take off). Tomatillos self seeded amongst our oca and they both seem happy together, the frost that signals the oca harvest will conveniently kill the tomatillos. Every season sees us trying something new, sometimes failing, others succeeding, always learning.

We made our first three sisters mistake at sowing time. I've now learned that you should establish your corn seedlings first, then the beans, and the squash a fair distance away from the other two. Both climbing beans and squash grow fast, the beans need the corn to climb up, and squash will swamp any nearby plants pretty quickly. The second mistake came at planting time, something went terrible awry, we were racing to get our new irrigation system installed and somehow neglected to plant enough pumpkins....zucchini took their place in one bed, volunteer potatoes performed really well in another.

The third, and perhaps most vital mistake was in our variety selection. We planted the plants we always have, with the notable exception of the beautiful grinding corn, Painted Mountain, in these pictures. Our friend Fraser from Old Mill Road Bio Farm quickly recognised that you'd be a dill if you grew things that needed regular picking, like those zucchini (oops!) and green beans (oh dear!) or sweetcorn (bugger!) because the close planting makes getting in to harvest regularly pretty difficult. But we did kick goals with this Painted Mountain, some Uchiki Kuri squash and those volunteer spuds. We also broke the formula by planting in rows rather than the traditional mounds simply because it seems to be the most efficient use of our drip irrigation system. We did make the mistake of planting different varieties in each row, which meant they tasseled at different times, so pollination wasn't as good as it would have been if we'd planted in blocks.

Lessons learned, we will get into it again next year with drying beans, winter squash and pumpkins, grinding or popping corn, perhaps potatoes, and, not being one to stick with a winning formula, I might have a go at interspersing some millet or grain amaranth too, along with whichever other whims strike during our cold Tasmanian winter where we huddle by the fire and dream up plans for next springs gardening adventures whilst quietly cursing the quarantine restrictions that mean we're limited to only a few varieties of corn. *Note: We do value greatly the work Quarantine Tasmania do protecting our state from the scourges of pests like fruit fly, we just sometimes get intense seed catalogue lust, which, sadly, must remain unsated.

Next season I'm hoping to embark upon these shenanigans on a grand scale. I'm keen to work on growing what is traditionally a cheap commodity, grinding or popping corn, and sharing it with some keen locals who will hopefully enjoy the unique flavours and properties that different strains provide, and the differences in flavour that a locally grown and freshly milled crop can provide, enough to make it a commercially viable adventure. Because if these things aren't commercially sustainable then they're sadly not sustainable at all, no matter how delicious or beautiful they are. And we're hoping to supply seedlings of the plants you'll need to embark on your own Three Sisters adventure next spring, or you can just pop down and see us at market and enjoy the fruits of our experiments.

We've kept the husks for tamale wrappers, although they may have to be tiny tamales...

Thursday, March 13, 2014

An 11th hour plea!

I began this letter months ago, but sowing kale, keeping up with animals and weeding has kept me busy. It's our Tasmanian state election this Saturday, and whilst there are so many important issues to be covered, these are the ones that directly impact on our family business.

Any politicians that have something to say will be loudly congratulated!

Dear Politician,

I am writing to you seeking your position prior to the upcoming state election.

Together with my husband I run a small mixed farm growing specialty herbs and vegetables for local restaurants and vegetable seedlings, vegetables and eggs for the Hobart farmer’s market.

The Federal Egg Act is due to become enforceable in November. As far as I understand, following community action, Tasmania’s conditions are under review to better reflect the practicalities of enforcement on producers after confusion and misinformation previously, that lead to media interest in the issue and a petition being presented to Minister Green.

I would love to hear how you and your party intend to offer support for small primary production enterprises.

Our production system is diverse to allow for resilience in the face of fluctuating seasons and markets. This diversity enables us to offer a good range of local, fresh, nutritious food to our customers and also is integral to our land management systems. We currently use poultry to cultivate, control pests, create manure and clean up spent crops. We sell the eggs to cover the cost of their feed and as another income stream on our farmers market stall. Our eight-year-old daughter has grown and sold radishes to raise capital to run quail as her first business venture. She hopes to care for the birds and sell the eggs on our farmer’s market stall, but with limitations on the number of birds as it stands this would prevent her from undertaking this entrepreneurial initiative.

I have been encouraged to hear that all parties intend to support rural Tasmania, and I would love to see this focus not only on large scale agribusiness, but supportive of small scale, family based enterprises as well.

Our business is unique and has followers all over the world on social media. Our brand is intrinsically linked with Tasmania and adds weight to the boutique food angle of Tasmania’s tourism branding. Businesses like ours provide authenticity, depth and faces for the image of Tasmania as a place rich in quality, sustainably produced food.

My husband Matt is a qualified chef, and it would greatly increase the viability of our business if we were able to utilise excess produce to make pickles, jams and other low risk products to sell in the cooler months when produce is more scarce. This is a traditional method that small, family scale farms have used to maintain income streams. The difficulty we face with the current regulations is economy of scale. Because of the diversity that makes our business resilient in the face of the vagaries of weather and markets, we cannot afford to invest a lot of capital in any one aspect of our enterprise, so to access a commercial kitchen would make it to expensive for us to grow, process and market the small quantities we would be producing.

We would applaud a bureaucratic culture that sought to enable family enterprises like ours.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

Warm regards,

Paulette Whitney

The reason we do what we do.
We want our kids to enjoy value in hard work,
good access to a wide variety of clean, fresh food,
cohesive, supportive communities,
a beautiful environment
and successful, happy family life.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

A call to arms!

We love our chooks, and we want more!

Submissions are due into the Tasmanian Government's draft legislation Primary Produce Safety Act (Egg) Regulations 2013 by the 10th of January. We'd love your support for safe, local food. Even if you only have the time to pen a few lines, every voice will help to demonstrate the demand to buy food produced on small farms (I've included a copy of my submission at the bottom of this post). Written submissions can be sent to:
Email: or
Post to: Senior Policy Officer Compliance
Biosecurity & Product Integrity Division
Department of Primary Industries, Parks, Water and Environment
GPO Box 44, Hobart, TAS, 7001

As the Tasmanian draft regulations stand, initial accreditation for those with more than 20 hens will cost approximately $525. Plus annual fees (to DPIPWE) which depend on the number of employees, but start at $260, and an annual audit (to a private auditor) costs between $300 and $600. Fees alone would add at least $3.70 per dozen eggs to the cost of production in the first year for flock of just over 20 birds (which would be the situation we would find ourselves in as we gradually increase our flock size as the garden expands). If we add cost of legally required new cartons, feed and costs associated with bringing eggs to market, stall fees, fuel and insurance, it would cost us about $7.98 to sell a carton of eggs. A flock of 50 birds would spread the fees out further but in the first year fees alone would add $1.58 to the price of a carton of eggs. This doesn't take into account any amendments we might be forced to make to our egg packing area (our family kitchen) or the birds housing (a mobile a frame built for us by a friend).  There would also be added labour due to additional administration requirements. I have heard a rumour that there may be other options, but in the absence of them being officially spelled out these are the figures we have to write our submissions from.

As small producers, running a small number of poultry as part of our market garden system, we have a strong concern about the effect these regulations will have on our business as we slowly expand. Small, mixed enterprises like ours are a wonderful, low debt family business that provide us with meaningful, healthy work, in a enterprise that enriches our local community and provides you with access to local, fresh nutritious food, placed into your hands by the hands that grew it.

We would love to see laws drafted and enacted in a manner that recognises the limitations of small, mixed businesses and seeks to support us in producing and marketing safe, fresh food, and communicates clearly, and in a way that is easy for busy farmers to understand. Throughout this process there have been people suggesting selling under the counter, selling eggs as pet food or looking for loopholes, but this is not the way we'd like to do business. We want to run a professional, transparent, ethical enterprise, pay tax, and fees where necessary, and to have the support of the Government to do so.

I love the idea of my children learning the value of hard work and caring for livestock by running small flocks of their own to earn money toward university, a gap year, a guitar... We should enable young, or old, entrepreneurs and provide them with knowledge in how to produce safe food, not price them out of the market.

We are not flippant about the risks involved with egg production. Salmonella is a serious health issue, particularly for those in the community with health problems, the main aim of our enterprise is to provide people with food that is safe, clean and nutritious. We believe that due to the short (nonexistent!) supply chain that our eggs take to get to market, the intimacy we have with hygiene and welfare of our small flock of hens, and the freshness of our product, that our eggs are a safe food. Other states, namely Victoria and New South Wales have higher limits on birds before fees and compulsory stamping kicks in, and they both provide supportive, clear information for producers on how to handle eggs safely.

A few like minded, and hard working egg lovers have come together and written some suggestions that you could use if you'd like to add your voice and support our push to be allowed to use chickens as part of a mixed small holding, and cover their costs by selling eggs. Thank you so much for reading this far, and I promise to write about the garden or a plant next time! Please find our pointers below.

Hi There,

You may be aware that in response to enacted national egg safety legislation, the Tassie Government has put out for comment draft legislation "Primary Produce Safety (Egg) Regulations 2013".  The proposed changes in a nutshell:

Number of egg laying birds

How eggs are used

What am I required to do?
Fewer than 20 egg laying birdsFor home purposes only (including eggs given away to family or friends)Nothing. Producers in this category are not required to stamp their product, nor is an audited food safety plan required.
Fewer than 20 egg laying birdsHome purposes plus some sold at markets, roadside stalls, and to friends, colleagues etcAll eggs sold must be individually marked with a unique identifying mark or code. This can be done with a hand stamper provided to egg producers in this category on registration of their details with DPIPWE. No accreditation is required, however producers in this category are not exempt from the requirements of the Food Standards CodeYou are now leaving our site. DPIPWE is not responsible for the content of the web site to which you are going. The link does not constitute any form of endorsement in respect to eggs for intended sale.
More than 20 egg laying birdsMainly soldAll eggs sold must be individually marked with a unique identifying code. Producers in this category require accreditation and an approved and audited food safety program (this requirement is already in place for producers in this category under the Egg Industry Act 2002You are now leaving our site. DPIPWE is not responsible for the content of the web site to which you are going. The link does not constitute any form of endorsement).

Note: Accreditation and auditing for those with more than 20 birds was already required (but not enforced) under the Egg Industry Act 2002, so the only new requirement for people who sell their eggs on roadsides, at their farm gate, market stalls etc is the stamping. What has also changed is the enforcement of the auditing and food safety program.

Initial accreditation for those with more than 20 hens will cost approximately $525. Annual fees (to DPIPWE) depend on the number of employees but start at $260, and an annual audit (to a private auditor) costs between $300 and $600.

Suggested issues/questions

Will stamping the eggs (traceability) of small to medium sized egg producers (those who sell directly to the consumer or to a single retailer) lower the incidence of salmonella poisoning in Tasmania? 
What information and help can DPIPWE provide to small producers to lower the incidence of salmonella poisoning in Tasmania? (I really like these documents from the Victorian and NSW Governments.)
How many egg laying birds do you currently have? If you have more than 20 birds how do the accreditation fees impact your business? 
Should the 20 bird threshold be raised to take into account the increasing number of small to medium sized producers who raise hens as part of a mixed holding or integrated farming system? If so, what number of laying hens would define a small to medium sized producer? (As a guide, the threshold in NSW is 20 dozen eggs per week, and in Victoria it is 50 laying birds). Please click here for links to the act and to find out where to send your submission. 

Provenance Growers submission for the review of the Tasmanian Primary Produce Safety (Egg) Regulations

Provenance Growers is a small, mixed market garden and edible plant nursery. We sell our produce to some of Tasmania’s leading restaurants and direct to domestic consumers at Farm Gate Market in Hobart.

We feel the Tasmanian Primary Produce Safety (Egg) Regulations fail to recognise the limitations of smallholders to achieve compliance in a cost effective manner.

It is the primary goal of our business to financially support our family whilst providing nutritious and, above all, safe food to our customers. We would love to see compliance and food safety issues addressed in an environment where small enterprises are nurtured by a bureaucracy that has an interest in the success of our enterprises, not just in our compliance.

Our eggs are only sold direct to customers at Farm Gate Market for domestic use. Currently we maintain a flock of 18 laying hens and only sell a few dozen eggs each week. We sell our eggs in new cartons with a label outlining our methods of production, our contact details and date of lay and best before date. We know each customer who buys our eggs, and they know us. Traceability, in our situation is not an issue.

Our flock are an integral part of our production system. We feed them spent crops and weeds, which they convert to manure that we then use in our composting system. They cultivate growing areas between crops, removing weeds and cleaning up insects and spoilt fruit thus eliminating the need for us to use agricultural chemical inputs and therefore increasing the marketability of our produce.

We sell the eggs to cover the cost of supplementary feed for the birds, and also because we want to offer a wide range of produce to our customers.

Our business is expanding as demand for our produce increases and we had planned to increase the size of our flock accordingly. The eggs on our market stall sell out within the first 5 minutes of the market opening for trade and we are asked throughout the trading period for more.

We retail the eggs for $7 a dozen. We feel that after costs this provides a reasonable return for our labour, caring for birds, packaging and bringing eggs to market. The new fee structure would add a minimum of $3.70 per dozen in fees in the first year as we build our flock. We hatch chicks under broody hens so we anticipate the growth of our flock to progress slowly. The lack of a sliding scale in the fee structure does not allow for this, as it begins as soon as you increase beyond 20 laying hens. We calculate our cost of production, packaging and market fees for 21 laying hens to be $4.25 per dozen eggs so when the first year fees are added our break even for a dozen eggs would be $7.95.

As well as the financial impost, we are concerned at the time it would take us to achieve compliance, and also at any infrastructure changes that may be required following auditing. Our poultry housing structures are made from recycled materials and our packing area is our domestic kitchen.

The definition of an egg laying bird is also of concern to us. The draft defines this as “a female bird that has reached a stage of growth where the bird is capable of laying eggs.” In our current flock we maintain older hens who lay irregularly but are valuable to us as broody hens. We also maintain a strain of Rhode Island Reds as meat birds for personal use but they share housing with our laying birds. If these birds are included in the flock number allowable, and should we choose to operate with fewer than 20 birds, this places us at a distinct financial disadvantage to producers who run flocks of commercial hybrids and cull spent fowls.

Implementation of a food safety scheme and making time for inspections will prove logistically difficult for us. Eggs from our 18 birds provide about 2% of gross farm income and a small increase in flock size, to above the threshold, will not increase this percentage greatly. The administrative burden to achieve compliance would render it impossible for us to increase our flock size and remain efficient in terms of time use in relation to income.Refer to Part 2, 13 of the act.

What we would like to see:

·      A charter that producers can fill in with a checklist of risks involved with the small scale production, handling and sale of eggs and clear guidelines on how these can be implemented. This example from NSW is a workable and useful document. WordTM version for customising   

·      A review into the allowable flock size. We feel that in our mixed enterprise we can safely handle, and sell directly to domestic consumers, the eggs from 100 birds and a flock of this size will prove invaluable from a weed management and soil fertility perspective as the scale of our business increases. Our children have expressed interest in raising birds as a source of income and legislation should be written to allow for the reality of family businesses and to foster entrepreneurs by giving them safe guidelines to work under. Victoria and NSW both allow for larger flocks than Tasmania.

·      Recognition that small, mixed holdings do not have the administrative capacity of large, industrial egg producers. In the case of our business there are two full time operators. It has taken at least 24 hours of work time to read, interpret and collate our input for this submission. This is a critical expense for a small, fledgling business.

·      A review into the definition of ‘Laying Bird’ to allow for older hens, broody hens, domestic flocks on mixed holdings and breeding stock.

·      We question the role of stamping as a method of reducing the incidence of food borne illnesses. The incidence of salmonellosis in Tasmania has remained relatively static, from 204 in 1991 to 232 in 2013 (the number of cases peaked at 302 in 2005). Queensland introduced egg stamping as a means of tracing the source of salmonella in 2007. The incidence of salmonellosis in Queensland rose from 2363 in 2007 to 3092 in 2013 (Australian Government Dept of Health, 2013) We advocate for an educative path for small producers and consumers in the safe handling of eggs and egg products. Producers who sell fresh eggs into the local domestic market will not create the same traceability issues as large producers who store, ship, wholesale and /or process eggs.

·      We would also like to see evidence of the risk posed by clean, used egg cartons.  To reduce costs and lessen the environmental impacts of our business reusing cartons would be of great benefit. Labelling issues are easily addressed by removing old labels from cartons. We also question the requirement for our business address to be printed on cartons. As we would be registered with the Department this would negate the need for small, domestic producers addresses to be shown, and allow privacy for us as operators who live with our families on the site of their business, we are happy to provide our phone numbers and email address.

·      Recognition of the value of small mixed holdings, or small poultry enterprises as a low debt business for people wishing to contribute to the Tasmanian economy. Legislation should be drafted in such a way that it enhances food safety and the viability of small business.

Friday, December 20, 2013

At market this Sunday....

A mammoth pick is ahead of us tomorrow for Farm Gate Market on Sunday. Pre-orders are encouraged for all of the produce listed below as there may be limited quantities of some lines. Please leave a comment below or email us at before 4pm Saturday to order, we will reply to confirm your order. If stored properly everything should be in wonderful condition for your festive feasting.

Broad beans. We’ll have both baby and grown up broad beans for sale this Sunday in good quantities. The young ones are beautiful podded and dropped briefly into boiling water, drained and promptly sprinkled with sea salt and anointed with a little butter or olive oil and served as is. The older ones I love to make a dip with. I boil them with bay leaves, parsley stems, garlic cloves and peppercorns for about ten minutes then drain, and puree them with freshly toasted and ground cumin and coriander seeds, a little chilli or paprika, lemon juice, olive oil and salt to taste. Older beans are also a delicious addition to bubble and squeak on boxing day, and both sizes can be thrown in their pods onto the barbeque, given a liberal sprinkling of salt and nibbled straight from the pods edamame style, or the young beans eaten pod and all, just watch out for the occasional bean that may pop out of its pod as they heat up!

Stuffing bundles. You know that thing where a recipe calls for a few sprigs of thyme, a little sage, some parsley…? You spend a fortune on little bundles of herbs and only use a bit of each bunch. Well, we’ve got the answer for you! We’re making up bunches of herbs including sage, thyme, lemon scented savoury and parsley (and possibly other tasty things that the chef deems delicious with a roasted bird!) perfect for using in the stuffing of your turkey, scattering over roasting veg or slipping under the skin of a chicken.

Lemon scented savoury, like lemon thyme, but with a fuller flavour and slightly peppery bite.
Delicious, beautiful and easy to grow. Available in our stuffing bundles and as plants in flower.
French tarragon. The perfect, most delicate herb that melds beautifully with butter and is wonderful on almost anything; beans, chicken, eggs,

Tea posies. We love fresh herbal tea! Our posies for this weekend will include delicious herbs to aid digestion and relaxation. Anise hyssop, Mexican tarragon, lemon liquorice mint, lemon balm, lemon verbena and German chamomile. Perfect to make the designated driver feel spoilt and those who have over indulged feel refreshed. Just drop the fresh leaves into a warmed teapot and leave to infuse, any remaining herbs will dry beautifully for later use.

Radishes. Lovely served as they are with cultured butter and salt, cooked briefly on the barbeque, tops and all, or lightly pickled. A tasty, refreshing and extremely pretty addition to your table.

We’ll also have our salads, bunches of lovely, tender, young bay leaves, chives, kunzea (perfect for a Tasmanian flavour to your roast vegetables and meats or delicious as a tea), native pepper leaves and more will be added to this list as we gather tomorrow.

If you’re short of a gift or two we’ll have our usual range of herbs and edible plants, some potted into beautiful old terracotta pots, edible flower posies and gift vouchers for edible gardeners.
Our newest colleagues, beautiful piglets from Weston Farm. 

Thank you all so much for your interest, support, custom and companionship as we’ve enjoyed our first year of supporting our family through growing food and plants for you. Every smile and chat at our stall, or conversation and kind word in the virtual world, means so much to us and we wish you and yours a healthy, fulfilling year ahead.

This week's excitement!

Green huntsman in the celtuce.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Tomatoes and Peppers

In true Tasmanian style, many of our tomato seedlings are ready just in time for Show Day, and there a more varieties still to come over the next few weeks.....with snow forecast tomorrow perhaps they know more than I do!

Due to an erratic season, a few varieties are in short supply, so be early or please leave a comment below to reserve any you'd like.

So here's what you'll find at Farm Gate this Sunday:

Deutsche Fleiss German heirloom, easily grown, high yielding variety. Red, 3-5cm fruit that look deceptively like a supermarket tomato but are one of the tastiest salad tomatoes I’ve grown. Fruit are firm and store well. Staking variety, but tends to grow low and bushy.

Jaune Flamme A French heirloom with small, opaque, orange fruit. Unique dense texture and rich flavour. Staking variety. 

Tasmanian Yellow Yellow, beefsteak type, medium/large fruit. Sweet, meaty fruit. Climbing variety.

Debaro Medium sized, red, egg shaped fruit with smooth skin, to 6cm across. Great flavoured salad tomato. Productive.

Leicester Jones Tassie bred by a naturopath, perfect for our conditions. Large, pink, ridged fruit.
Leicester Jones
Camp Joy Hardy, productive, large cherry type tomato. Beautiful flavour. Climbing variety.


Lemon Drop Cherry tomato that produces masses of tiny, yellow fruit. Holds fruit until late in the season, pull spent plants and hang in a dry place for continued harvest.

Harbinger English heirloom, produces well in cool weather and for a long period, green fruit is said to ripen well off of the bush, we pull plant at the end of the season and hang in the wood shed. This year we picked from the spent vines until . Medium sized, red fruit. Staking variety.

Tigerella Gorgeous green-red tomato with orange stripes. Reliable and productive. Small to medium fruit, tangy, firm flesh and incredibly tasty. Staking.

Pineapple Stripes Inspired to grow this one by one of my favourite instagrammers, Tucker Taylor. Said to be a hardy plant and a great producer of heavy, rich flavoured, yellow fruit with red stripes inside.

Black Cherry

Black Cherry Cherry tomato with dark purplish fruit to 3 cm across, produced in trusses on tall vigorous bush. Sweet, juicy flesh with a rich flavour. Reliable with high yields. Really delicious!!

Moldovan Green We've grown this one on the recommendation of our friend Pauline and she knows food! A beefsteak type that ripens to green with pale areas, said to have 'tropical' flavours. Perhaps Pauline can tell us more?

I'll be sorting through my tomato trays and hope to add a few more to the list before Sunday. Other varieties to come, either this week or over the next few include Tommy Toe, Wapsipinnicon Peach, Black Krim, Brandywine, Roma, George, Green Grape, Reisentraube and Stupice.

And Peppers! Again these are only the first of our varieties and some are in short supply. Look for more varieties in the coming weeks, and remember there's no hurry! Last year I was still picking the deliciously addictive Padron from an outdoor garden at Neika long after our tomatoes and zucchini had succumbed to frost.
Alma Paprika, unripe fruit and flower.
Plant them into good, rich soil and remove the first few flowers to encourage the plant to put some energy into growing before it begins fruiting. All varieties can be harvested green or red, and, if protected from frost, your plants will continue fruiting well into winter. Our pantry is well stocked with little jars of dried chillies and bottles of chilli plum sauce, and the odd jar of pickled peppers is still lurking in the fridge. The most precious one for me is our paprika. When dried it forms luminous, dark red flakes and smells sweet, rich and complex.

Padron Spanish frying pepper. Mild with the occasional hot fruit giving them the nickname of 'Russian Roulette Pepper'. Grill over coals or fry in oil and finish with salt. Most rate at 500 on the Scoville scale with the occasional fruit getting up to 25,000. These became an obsession for us last season, I couldn't get enough!

Alma Paprika A favourite of mine, use fresh or dried. Red, round, warm but not super hot fruit with a rich flavour. 100-1000 on Scoville scale.

Beaver Dam Hungarian heirloom, warm to hot flavour, great for pickles and salsas. Suited to cool climates. This was super productive last year, despite the differing Scoville ratings I couldn't handle the heat of this one as a frying pepper even though I was addicted to the Padron, but it was wonderful to add warmth to curries and salsas. It continued to ripen fruit in the unheated polytunnel until July. 500-1000 on Scoville scale.

Rocoto Perennial tree chilli. If protected from frost this pepper will fruit all winter. It produces great crops of hot, round peppers. May grow to 4m but easily pruned to a manageable size. Withstands cool temperatures, but not frosts. 50,000 to 200,000 

 Good producer of long, red, hot peppers. Use fresh or dry for year round use. 30,000-50,000 Scoville points.


Beaver Dam