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Organic Super Hot Peppers – What is organic?

Skiddo T Goat

Fresh super hot peppers can be hard to find.  Organic super hot peppers are even harder to find, unless you grow them yourself.  But even when home grown, if you have concerns about food being organic you really have to examine the products you use.  We avoid the problem by not generally using commercial products at all.  It’s not so much a business decision as it is a health and lifestyle decision.  Truth be known, a grower can produce much more produce with modern non-organic methods.  If we were charged with feeding the world, organic methods would not be the route to go.

Certified Organic?

There is a huge difference between using all organic methods and being certified organic.  The short of being certified organic is that there is someone looking over your shoulder making sure you tell the truth about your methods.  I think that is great.  It allows consumer to feel confident that their government is assuring that a product is organic.  But is that product truly organic?  These days it seems the word can mean a great many different things.  Lets talk poop.

Skiddo T Goat

Hi, I am a goat.  Most of what goes in my front comes out the back in nice little pellet form.  In the barn, this mixes with hay and straw.  When my stall is mucked out, the material can be composted and aged for about a year and you would swear it is rich top soil.  Sounds great right?  Well we think it is.

Not all growers keep their own critter.  It simply doesn’t make business sense because unless you keep them for other reason, it is more affordable to purchase fertilizer.  Many source their manure from commercial factory farms.  While some of those grower believe their methods are organic, one should might want to consider what is going in the front end.  In the case of factory farms and especially with huge chicken farms, antibiotics are often fed daily.  In fact, if you check the label on chicken feed, you often find that it is medicated.  The reason is that living in factory farm conditions, mortality rates can reach fifty percent without the effort.  Not generally so on smaller farms where chicken free range.  I am not a scientist.  So I do not know if those antibiotics can go from critter to poop to plant, but I don’t want to take a chance.  That and we really love keeping our own critters.  So lifestyle is one of the driving forces behind our method of farming.

Lifestyle and a general mistrust for commercial marketing.  Recently, I have read that sewer sludge / human waste is now used to produce ‘organic’ fertilizers.  On the surface that sounds horrible due to pathogens which easily move between the same species.  But we are assured that when properly composted, aged and processed the pathogens are not much of a concern.  Ah, but what about birth control, hormones, and antidepressants?

If you give it a search, you will find article upon article concerning hormones and antidepressants in municipal water supplies.  It seems we take them, urinate them out, flush them down, and then drink them up again.  Evidently, these things are far too small to be filtered out when they recycle waste into drinking water.  Yes, many of us are drinking recycled urine and don’t know it.

Are those things processed out when making fertilizer from sewer sludge?  I honestly do not know.  But between the antibiotics from factory farms, the hormones and antidepressants from sewer sludge; we want none of the commercial fertilizers even if they claim to be organic.  Besides, it gives us the excuse to keep critter a our friends.

We are not certified organic.  To be honest, the paper work alone would probably drive me nuts.  But we stick to organic methods because they work for us.  We honestly believe our produce tastes much better for it.

Growing Super Hot Peppers

It seems when it comes to super hot peppers, the preferred method of growing involves covering an area in black plastic, putting five or ten gallon containers on top of the plastic, and drip irrigating.  Most seem to use commercial chemical based fertilizers.  Much larger operations use methods similar to factory farming.  First they destroy weeds with various chemicals.  The they plant and switch to chemical pesticides.

We prefer much less complicated methods. We think our peppers and produce are better tasting for those methods.  But to be perfectly honest, we came to this method for personal health considerations, the love of critters and the meditative benefits of traditional gardening methods.  Our methods are not sane if the goal is commerce alone.

My wife swears she can tell the difference between a container grown tomato and a field grown tomato.  So none of our produce is grown in containers after it original planting.  Our produce is grown in the ground.  We do use containers when growing seed stock in isolation, but flavor isn’t all that important when the fruit is discarded.

Pest are controlled by critters here on our micro farm.  You would be amazed at the volume of pests that ducks and chicken will remove from a garden.  Yes, you will loose low lying fruit.  Tomato go first.  If you keep certain ducks, you will also loose zucchini and cucumbers.  But things that grow on the ground should not be where critters can get anyway.  Non composted waste is dangerous.

Ground crops like cucumbers should not be grown where uncompensated materials might come into contact with them.  You would be amazed at the number of food poisoning cases have risen from a deer visiting a farm at night.  Our solution, we grow our ground crops up off the ground.  Generally, a sloped piece of lattice work will do.  But I hope to build a cucumber house where I can look up to pick the fruit.  Root crops are grown where critters can not access.

Speaking of waste, barn scrapings and the dredging from the bottom of ponds is generally considered safe if composted, aged, and treated over the course of a season.  Still, we only use it on areas where we grow corn.  The next year, we till what remains of the corn under to fluff up the dirt and then rotate produce to that area.  The benefit here is not only does the practice improve the soil, but we have something to do with what we produce when mucking the barn or dredging the ponds.

We try to live in kinship with not only our own critters, but those that come from the wild.  Currently, we have a possum that sleeps with our barn cat.  Until it proves itself dangerous to the chicken, duck, or other kept critters it is welcome.  I understand a single possum will consume thousands of ticks.

Our grass and yard waste is used as mulch to keep down the weeds.  This provides an excellent home to frogs, toad, snakes and other wildlife which further keeps down the bugs.  Our ponds, not yet stocked, are our main water supply for the gardens.  Once stocked, they will provide extra nutrients with every ground watering.  From there, we hope to experiment with aquaponics a bit.

As I have mentioned, our methods are not economically sound. A business could make far more profit if it used more modern methods.  Although we are expanding our grow each year, our harvest is always limited.  We typically sell everything we post for sale shortly after it is offered.  Not because we are a huge well known producer, but because we are a tiny family owned farm.  But we love the lifestyle our methods allow and really love doing what we do.

If our sales continue to grow, our plan is to expand the grow using the same organic methods, add friends and family to the work force and more critters to the menagerie.

Please wish us luck.



2 thoughts on “Organic Super Hot Peppers – What is organic?

  1. I love your farming methods & the down-to-Earth way you explain them, A.J. Drew. I trust you & your family to provide us with healthy, tasty & super-HOT peppers! You have earned that trust. I look forward to your 2017 crop, especially those Bahamian Goat & Star of Turkey peppers!

    1. Thank you. Our methods have come about for a love of nature. Believe it or not, there is a baby duck in my lap right now. She was sickly and rejected by her mother. Heavy mulching makes for a great place for our free ranging flocks. It helps attract worms, frogs, toads, and even turtles. Not that ducks eat turtles, but it feels great to be tending the fields and run into one. Its baby season right now. So each day, one of the mama ducks walks past a time or two with her ducklings following close behind. One will walk past one row away and not mind me at all.

      My wife and I had a discussion just the other day. Each year, despite expanding, we seem to have more interest than we have peppers. I am torn between wanting to expand and wanting to keep doing things the way we do. We are hoping to do both by hiring good folk to join us. Time will tell.

      Thank you so much for your comment. Makes a person feel good about being an old hippie.

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