In a much loved garden tucked away in St Albans lies some of the hottest chillies on the planet.
Horticulturist Len Panecki has been perfecting his chilli range for three decades and says his offerings are up there with the hottest in the world.
“When I first started you could only get one or two varieties on the shelves and my wife, who is a bit of a chilli-head, said they weren’t very hot.
“So i went on a quest to find the so called Mt Everest – the hottest chilli.“
Mr Panecki did just that – cultivating chillies as hot as the famed Carolina Reaper in his backyard.
“It brings everyone to their knees… it’s actually quite lethal stuff. I have to where a respirator and gloves when I blend it down into chilli powder.
“Even the smallest amount of dust on the hands followed by a touch of the eyes nose… or even going to the loo has you singing and dancing for a long time.“
After years of perfecting the craft, Mr Panecki has the growing process down to a fine art.
“To grow from seed, you have to start in late June/early July. I use warming trays to do that.
“When they germinate, I put them inside a hot house to get up to size before potting.
“By time spring comes they’re ready to go out in garden.“