We’re both professional entertainers and were happily making our living playing drums (Celestino) and performing aerial acrobatics (Charlie). THEN the pandemic happened, everything shut down, and we had no work at all. We temporarily shuttered our live entertainment production company and sealed ourselves into our bunker. We started scheming. We already liked growing insanely, ridiculously, impossibly hot peppers, because Celestino can never find a pepper hot enough. What if we grew MORE amazing peppers? What if we grew enough amazing peppers that we had some for other people who can never find a pepper hot enough? What if we grew so many amazing peppers that we needed a TRACTOR???
We somehow managed to start 250 baby pepper plants in our impossibly tiny apartment. We improvised with what we had on hand as we went, which probably contributed to our peppers growing up as super angry little divas. We set them up the only place we had space: in the equipment room next to extra drum kits, rigging equipment, backdrops, lighting, and a closet bursting with costumes. The tiny sprouts emerged under the glow of one of our giant, 500 watt parcan stage lights because our grow lights hadn’t arrived yet. When the grow lights did come, we hung them from a cymbal stand so we could adjust the height easily. Sometimes we wore costumes when we checked on the plants in the field, because why would we NOT wear costumes when we checked on them in the field??
While our little baby plants were growing in the storage closet at home, we learned all KINDS of new farm skills! We learned how to drive a tractor and then also how to fix a tractor, how to build a hoop house and test ground and air temperature differentials, take soil samples and submit them for nutrient analysis, design and install a drip irrigation system, and we made friends with our state extension agronomist and horticulturalist! Special thanks to our SCORE mentor Don Ufford, who walked us through every step of our farm learning and planning and to Loren Steinhoek for letting us plant on his land and for teaching us how to tractor.
When our baby plants got bigger, we loaded them into the van and took them to play at Grandma and Grandpa’s house so they could get used to being outdoors before we planted them in the field. Before we knew it, they’d turned into little angry teenaged plants and we were empty nesters!!!
Harvesting The Fury
During our first year as well as now, we harvest both fully ripe and green pods, each destined for a different application. Fully ripe pods are the absolute hottest while green pods carry great flavor with a slightly toned down heat. We use green pods in our lower heat blends!
Deliciousness! And Pain!
The best part of the whole process for Celestino is quality control: it’s the part where he gets to taste each and every pepper variety, green to fully ripe pods, raw, cooked, and dehydrated to make sure that they all meet our standard of incredibly complex flavor combined with melt your face off heat. It’s also the part where Charlie’s P100 half face respirator is CRUCIAL.