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The Pepper Chronicles Part III: Growth

I've started to realize just how intertwined so many concepts are as I forge this path ahead. The concept of growing a business that is focused around peppers brings the ever cliché analogy of growth to mind, yet here I find the one time it really and truly does apply, and isn't just some stupid cliché.

Day by day, I watch my plants grow. I have 486 plants in their pots, with so many more to go. I've always kept an open mind, and have always had a penchant for streamlining processes, increasing efficiency and decreasing costs, which has been incredibly helpful starting this endeavor. Since my last post, I was able to find a nursery supply distributer, Grower's Nursery Supply, and they have been a godsend! With their help, I was able to reduce my cost for trays by 57%, my starter pot costs by 47%, and the cost for 3.5" seedling pots by 84%, this place seriously is awesome!. This is exactly the kind of margin expansion I'm looking for as it directly effects cost to a monumental scale, and has absolutely no detrimental effect to the quality of product we have, which is critical. I will never sacrifice quality for cost, so identifying these areas is something I strive for.

As it is, I've streamlined the process for potting from before with these new tray sheets and can now average about 72 plants/hour in pots. Yet another critical factor: reducing labor time while increasing productivity. Re-using last years pots may have pointed me in the right direction. I've noticed my biggest problems are ones with solutions to them already, I just have to identify them and apply them. I'm not the first person to have the idea of selling plants obviously, the market already exists, so I look to their example. Why am I using round 6" pots when I can only fit 8 per tray? Why am I not using smaller square pots that will waste less space, instead fitting 18 per tray? Furthermore, why am I re-using old ones one by one refilling with dirt, painstakingly slowly potting over and over again when I can fill 4 sheets of 18 pots in about 10 minutes? The lessons are out there for most of our problems in life, we just have to find them, and this is no exception.

I've also been wrapping my brain around the process to actually sell these things (spring is fast approaching!) and just what exactly that means for me. Farmers market fees, technology to accept payments electronically (cash only eliminates so many potential customers!), booth design, and the thought that every customer that purchases a plant is also a potential customer for sauces come summer, my head is swimming in ideas, thoughts, and plans. I'd be lying if I said I wasn't excited as hell for what this year holds for us, because I think it's going to be an amazing year for Delta Mike's.

This is one happy Cayenne seedling!

More happy Cayennes!

They just keep going!

Habaneros in their new, much more efficient pots

Ghost Chilis in their new homes

Although they are rather far behind my Cayennes, this is normal as the Ghost Chili has a much longer grow cycle

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