Locally Grown Peppers

Ashley Foods grew locally growing peppers for Seven years.

We started working with UMASS Amherst in 2013.  Frank Mangan from the UMASS experimental farm, was instrumental in procuring the best seeds from Trinidad then creating a farm plan for us. The test crop was grown on about 3/4 of an acre and the yield was  2,500 lbs of Trinidad Moruga Scorpion peppers. The first picking was used in our Mad Dog 357 Scorpion Pepper Hot Sauce and the rest we frozen.  When we had the peppers tested using HPLC method and they came in at 1,008,000  Scoville. This was the hottest pepper to date the we have been able to use in large scale.

Since then we have been growing at J P Bartlett Co, located in Sudbury MA. Bartlett’s has been in business since 1911 and it was a natural fit locally growing peppers in Greenhouses that are not in use 5 months a year. The 2015 crop includes 8,000 total plant with the most variety being produced the Carolina Reaper Pepper, along with Trinidad Moruga Scorpion Pepper, Chocolate Ghost Peppers and a few other test peppers. The peppers are in 5 Greenhouses and about 2/3 of an acre. We are locally growing them as naturally as we can.

In addition to our greenhouse crop we’re also cultivating 3/4s of an acre outdoors in soil.   Approximately 5000 plants are being grown on plastic with low flow drip irrigation.

This year is also our first year experimenting with hybridizing for future production, so please stay tuned and keep and eye out for Mad dog Mutants.


Growing Tips:

  1. Purchase quality seed.

Whenever growing any vegetable including peppers always select quality seed from a reputable merchant because there’s nothing quite as disappointing as getting jacked by internet Joe online who sends you sappy jalapenos instead of ghost peppers.   If you are saving your own seed make sure to clean and dry your seed properly before storing them. Storing them before they are fully dry increases the risk of losing seed to mold.

  1. Wear Protection.

With super hot chilies you may want to take precautions before so you begin to sow your seed, nitrile gloves are a must.  Eye protection and a respirator/dust mask is also very helpful when sowing seed that may still contain chili dust or oils. The same protective equipment should be remembered when it comes time to harvest and process the fruit, these chilies ain’t no joke!

   3. Containers and Soil.

Chilies will grow big, fast, therefore it is important to choose a final container that is large enough to support a shrub 4-6 feet in width and height. Initially the seeds should be grown in small containers or seed flats and potted up as they grow. The soil is critical as well, it is important to use a soilless media that has a neutral pH, plenty of drainage and amended with compost.