Tired of the same old bell or jalapeno peppers? Mike and Laura of Pepper Merchant hear you! The couple is passionate about spicy plants and loves growing unique peppers not typically found in supermarkets. In 2019, they launched their company to share their passion after realizing Canada lacked a diverse range of pepper seeds for gardeners craving homegrown spice.
They acquired an old Christmas tree farm just outside Almonte, ON. Eleven acres in size, the couple doesn’t use all the land yet but is constantly adding more rows to accommodate a rising demand for unique pepper seeds. They grow dozens of pepper varieties, and although not certified organic, no pesticides or herbicides are used on the farm. All of the open-pollinated seeds available from Pepper Merchant are grown, imported, and traded for by Mike and Laura, ensuring customers get the best genetics possible.
The seed-saving process is an art, and Pepper Merchant has designed unique dryers with a 3D printer that improves the quality of the end product while reducing the time it takes for proper drying. Rather than using disposable paper plates and plastic cups, Mike and Laura reuse the same driers, producing little to no waste. Customers can purchase seed packets online (ships worldwide), but Pepper Merchant seeds and seedlings can also be found at several markets, Seedy Saturday events, and hot sauce shows spanning southern to eastern Ontario.
Some interesting seed selections include a unique cross between Carolina Reaper and 7pot Lava Chocolate, the ridiculously hot Zing, a purple peach pepper called Thanos, and more. Hallows Eve, a spicy orange and black pepper, is one of the company’s best sellers. Mike says it doesn’t matter how many rows of this pepper they plant; the seeds always sell out. On the milder side, the Piment d’Espellete does well. This variety from France was sourced from a family member’s friend who lives in the Basque region. No wonder it’s a top seller; the French government only allows a small amount of Piment d’Espellete to be exported, making it rare in other parts of the world.