Cambo Estate in Fife has turned up the heat this summer with Chilli con Cambo, a festival of food and gardening that’s taking fresh produce and fiery flavours from the greenhouse and turning them into irresistible food in the estate cafe.

Using gardening know-how and culinary skills, they’ve shrunk food miles to food metres and the results are a fascinating exhibition of gardening and a taste of summer on a plate.

The festival is based around three ingredients, tomatoes, chilli peppers and and beans, all of them chosen for their good looks, flavour and ability to keep producing over a long season.

Shelley O’Berg, gardener and Cambo horticulture training officer, who trained at the Royal Horticultural Society’s Rosemoor and Wisley gardens, has been in charge of growing.

“Seed was sourced from Chiltern Seeds’ vegetable range and the tomatoes and chillis were sown in full seed trays using John Innes seed compost then placed in a propagator set to 22 C to ensure optimum germination.

“Once the true leaves had emerged, they were pricked out and potted on into individual 9cm pots.

“When roots were showing at the bottom of the tomato pots these were potted on again in to 10 litre pots and as soon as the first fruit appeared, Tomorite was added at every second watering.

The Chillis were potted into longer pots to add interest to the display and the beans were sown into root trainers in multi-purpose compost. Once the roots had appeared at the base, the beans were planted in their growing position in the glasshouse.”

Scottish Gardener:

Here’s a full list of all the varieties grown by Shelley and the Cambo garden team.

Tomatoes: Black Cherry, Sunbaby, Snowberry, Tutti-Fruitti, Tummeliten, Sungold, Rosella, Blue Bayou, Green zebra, Golden Sunrise, Tigerella, Tumbling Tom Red, Tumbling Tom Yellow, Microcherry, Black Russian, Costoluto Florentino.

Tomatillo: Verdelino

Physalis: Dwarf

French Beans: Barlotto Lingua de Fuoco 2, Cobra, Cosse Violette.

Runner Bean: Painted Lady, White Lady, Lady Di.

Soya Bean: Fiskerby V

Asparagus Bean: Yard long

Chilli peppers: Pikito, Hungarian Hot Wax, Jalapeño, Vampire, Anaheim, Cayenne Long Slim, Demon Red, Ember Explosive, Gusto Purple, Hungarian Black.

Head chef Gillian Veal, who opened the Parlour Cafe in Dundee’s West Port, trained as an artist before switching to food and she has brought her creativity to Cambo, serving up hearty vegetarian dishes, salads and home baking using produce from the garden.

“My inspiration comes from the flavours and relaxed approach to food found in the Middle East and Southern Europe.”

Garden Notebook
Cambo House & Estate
Kingsbarns, St Andrews, Fife KY16 8QD