Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Can you believe the time has almost come again?

That's right, we are nearly at pepper season.  Plants will be going in the ground in almost a month, but this year, we are well ahead of schedule.

Every year, we seem to grow a little bit more.  When we started, we grew a couple of Fatalii plants, a couple Douglahs, and then some boring old Habanero's and Serranos.  Most everything else we tried died off or never sprouted.

However, we learned, we improved, we stopped buying seeds from certain places....

What started as four or five plants turned into twenty, then seventy, then over 100!

And now, we have our biggest crop yet, with over 600 different plants already.  Strange feelings emerge inside, knowing full well we will not be keeping most of these, but instead, attempting to sell them.  Sure some will go to friends and family, but many, we hope, will be leaving us at farmers markets and other such garden bazaars.

When we started we had no idea this would become such a passion, let alone a possible business, but here we are, in 2017, poised for our best year yet.

This year, we started earlier.  We used better materials.  We built a second indoor plant rack.  We tackled all our previous years issues of pests, disease, rot, anything, before they even happened.  This year, we are ready.

I challenge anyone in the Bloomington/Normal area to compare our superhots to anything you'll find at the A and B's or the Niephagens of the world.  You'll see that our plants are healthy, luscious, beautiful...

Because we love them, and we take super hots seriously.  I mean, these are the plants that will be used in this year's BobbyGitr sauces, so they HAVE to be good.

Don't believe me?  Here' s a couple of pictures to show just how great everything is looking.

We will definitely be better at blogging this year, as there is so much on the docket.  For now, that's all, a quick post from Bobby G himself.

As always, thanks for all the support, and remember to keep life....

Mmmmm, Spicy!

Friday, January 27, 2017

Lordy, LORD--2017 ALREADY?!

My, oh my, how time does fly!

I can't believe it has been nearly 6 months since the last post! Once the peppers start coming on heavy, though, it's a full time job to plan, pick, and process everything.

So many PEPPERS!
August-October we suffered an 'embarrassment of riches,' one might say--up to our elbows in fruits, which forced a little expansion in pepper products. While nailing down our hot sauce recipe and process for 'legalization,' we also successfully experimented with dehydration and powder-making. (A shout goes out to my friend Erin for loaning us her awesome food dehydrator.  I promise I will get it back to you soon!) We also made our vendor debut at the Downs Village Market in September.
Our first dollar!

As a result of all the extra work, our 'winter break' (which amounts to about a month from Nov-Dec), was spent making solid plans to kick 2017 up a notch on both ends of the business.

PLANTS: We decided to start seeds a full month earlier than we did last year, so around 600 went into soil between January 2-4th.  More will be in the ground soon, but this is all we had room for in the beginning!  Fewer plants will go into the BBG Garden this year overall (which means more for sale in May-June), but we will be varying the pepper types even more.

First "true" leaves are in!

Reach, babies, reeeeeach!
We said goodbye to a few strains--the Naga Viper, Jamaican Gold, Cumari--and decided to add an heirloom strain of Yellow Fatalii, a BBG 7 Pot, and some seeds we received from group trading (Mustard Habanero, Locato, Bulgarian Carrot, and Cherry Bomb, to name a few) to include in the Super Hots.  We also planted seeds from one of our more interesting cross strains from last year (White Giant Habanero x Trinidad Scorpion) and are eager to see how they come out.  We toyed with the idea of experimenting with some hydroponics this year, too, but the idea has been tabled for now.

SAUCE: We are still in the process of getting our hot sauce 'legalized' for sale at local farmer's markets.  The fees and hurdles in Illinois are high, but so are our hopes that 2017 will be THE year we finally go legit.  We have a recipe, we have our HACCP plan almost ready for submission... and hopefully will have the fee for certification raised by the time we need it.

(Not-So-Interesting Side note: Hot sauce is a funny little thing... it's not a "food" per government regulations, it's considered a condiment, and even as a condiment, it doesn't qualify for home production under the Cottage Foods Act, but rather falls under the area of a canned good.  That, in turn, puts in under and entirely different set of guidelines from 'regular' processed goods.  On top of that, our state government has been in a budget battle that has limited the number of experienced people available to help answer questions and guide us through the processes, sooo... we had to do a lot of helping ourselves in 2016.)  

BobbyGitr heading up disc sales at our DG club's fall event
DISCS:  This might be the MOST EXCITING  part yet!  We have become an approved vendor for a couple of disc golf supply companies, and will be investing a lot more time and effort on this end of the business in 2017.  We are working on our first order from Dynamic Discs (Who carry DD, Trilogy, WestSide, and Latitude 64), and have at least one tournament in the works for the year.  That means more local choices for plastic, and more chances to grow the sport!

As Danny Lindahl says, "Slow is smooth, and smooth is far..."  Hopefully our slow but smooth start into the disc business will help us grow and take us far.

Until next time... keep things... "Mmm... SPICY!"

-The HaPeppaMama

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