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Southease Chilli and Sweet Pepper Parade (continued)

“I buy the seeds from Simpson’s Seeds (a family-run business in Wiltshire) who classify their chillies according to their strength,” he says. “These are as follows: W, H, HH, HHH, HHH+. ‘H’, obviously, stands for hot.” He shows me which chillies are hot, and which are not. “Alma Paprika is the mildest there is: I was promised just a tingle, but I found they didn’t even produce that.” The others all produce a bit of a kick, to put it mildly. He shows me Anaheims, Krimson Lees, Hungarian Yellow Waxes (‘also known as hot bananas’), Red Hot Cherries, Bulgarian Carrots, Heatwaves, Portugals and Tropical Heats. He reserves the hottest he grows to the end. “Hot Paper Lanterns, I’d defy anyone to try it,” he says. “You’ve got to be careful, actually, when you’re growing them. I rubbed my eyes after touching one once, and they were streaming for over an hour.”

Peppers, he tells me, need quite a lot of attention. He germinates them in March (they have a reputation of being hard to ‘start’). “They need a lot of warmth, so I put them in the utility room by the radiator where it’s about 83 degrees, to germinate.” From there to the greenhouse, where he carefully waters them daily, and watches them grow. The fruits start appearing in June and are ready to eat in early September. I have a burning question. Why are chillies hot? He doesn’t know. “Actually I’m not much of a fan of hot food,” he says. “Vindaloos and Phall aren’t for me. I prefer my curries mild.” AL

The Red Hot Chilli Peppers hit Southease

Village Green, Southease
When? 11-4.30pm
How Much? Free
Southease Plants (Adrian Orchard)
(t) 01273 513681