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SUMMER / FALL 2019      © 2019 812 Magazine

Susan Weisand, chile grower


With 20 years of chile farming under her apron and over 1,600 varieties of seed in her greenhouse, the Chile Woman has found the temperature isn't the only thing that Hoosiers like hot.


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Susan Weisand, the chile woman.

With 20 years of chile farming under her apron and over 1,600 varieties of seed in her greenhouse, Chile Woman Susan Weisand has found the temperature isn't the only thing that Hoosiers like hot.

There's a chile out there for everyone.

On a scale from 1-10, 10 being the hottest, I consider a jalapeno a five, so you can go up and down from there. If you're looking for very mild, I suggest a pasilla chile, which has a smoky flavor. As for hotter peppers, I recommend any of the South American aji peppers. They have a fruity flavor that I really enjoy.

It's not all about the heat.

There's currently a big trend in purchasing what I call "super hots"-varieties like ghost peppers, scorpion tongues and 7-Pots. I'm hoping the fad will begin to fade. I like hot, but I'm more about the flavor.

Animals know the land better than you do.

I don't plant until I see that my snapping turtle has laid her eggs in the spring. If she's not out, I'm not planting.

Agriculture is not for the fainthearted.

In 1998 the garden completely flooded and a fungus grew that forced me to move my garden to a completely new location. Then, this past May, a tornado swept away a lot of my seed stock plants and left me without electricity for weeks. It's a risk that comes with the job description. You have to know that nothing is guaranteed or a given when it comes to farming.

Nobody wants to see your chile face.

Someone always challenges their friend to eat a ghost pepper at the farmers market. Are you crazy? Do it at home when you have milk to put out the fire.

Weisand's chiles are available for purchase every Saturday at the Bloomington Farmers Market and over the phone at (812) 339-8321.