I’ve been a member of Garden Organic, and the Heritage Seed Library, for a little over a year now. Among the choices, I made for the 2018 season was Achocha, which I enjoyed growing and proved to be of interest to many others on our site. As a somewhat ‘different’ crop, it was a good way of getting to know people on my new site – everyone was genuinely interested in learning about them.
My seed collection is huge – many hundreds of packets, thanks for magazine subscriptions and other freebies over the past few years. There are relatively few seeds I need to buy each year – Rhubarb seeds are the only ones I’ve bought for this season so far. There are a few others I will buy, though at present that list is only a handful.
The heritage seed library offers the chance to try something completely different. While there are plenty of varieties of common vegetables to be found – for example 21 tomato varieties and a staggering 47 varieties of french beans, there are also some less common vegetables there. I use the heritage seeds as a way of discovering, and trying new vegetables.
I placed my seed order the day the seed list was released, and they were duly delivered only days later. These are my choices for this year;
Manchester Table (Carrot)
My seed tin isn’t short of carrot seeds. I have dozens of packets, mostly of Nantes. This one appealed to me purely because of the name – what better carrot to grow in Manchester than one that shares its name?
This variety is still commercially available in Australia and New Zealand. It’s stated to be both productive and vigorous.
View Manchester Table at HSL
Despite the fact I use cucumber in abundance – at least 4 or 5 of them a week – I’ve never actually grown them. I did have a half-hearted attempt at growing some outdoors in my first year, but circumstance prevented me trying again since. Izjastsnoi, as well as having a funky name, is said to tolerate poor treatment and cool temperatures. While I shall grow some other varieties this year, both indoors and out, I’m curious to see how this performs against the more common varieties such as Marketmore.
Izjastsnoi originates from Estonia and bears short fruits on compact bushes.
View Izjastsnoi at HSL
Tower Hamlets (Dudi)
Much like Achocha last year, Dudi is something entirely new to me. I’ve never grown or tasted one before – nor have I seen anyone else do so. I’m very much expecting this to be the ‘talking point’ for plot visitors this year. As it’s said to be especially vigorous, spreading up to 10 metres, I suspect it will be hard to miss. It’s said that Dudi is similar to courgette, yet retain their crunch when cooked.
I’m tempted to place arches across the ‘ditch’ in the centre of my plot for these to climb across.
View Tower Hamlets at HSL
Vasu’s 30 Day Dwarf Papri (Lablab Bean)
Another completely new one for me. Originally from commercial seed in India, these have been grown on an allotment in Leicester and saved for the HSL. As the name suggests, they are said to grow from seed to flower in only 30 days. I haven’t been able to find out a great deal about these, so more research is needed.
View Vasu’s 30 Day Dwarf Papri at HSL
This is supposedly an early, reliable and heavy-cropping leek. Another crop I’ve yet to try.
View Coloma at HSL
This is probably one of the more ‘confusing’ selections. It’s neither asparagus nor typical lettuce. With this variety, it’s the stem that is cultivated rather than the leaves. Originating from China, the stem can be eaten raw or lightly cooked for stir fries.
I use a great deal of lettuce, and grow quite a bit of it where possible too – so I’m very excited to try this out, despite (or because of) it being so different.
View Asparagus Lettuce at HSL
As the season approaches, I’ll be documenting my progress with each of these – along with everything else on the plot.
Main Photo Credit: Garden Organic