A Place for Vegaholics

A PLETHORA OF PEAS

It’s been a good year for peas and I have enjoyed growing a number of familiar as well as new additions to my library for culinary pleasure, to return to the Heritage Seed Library and share with fellow vegaholics. My absolute favourite new addition is Jeaune de Madras. An old French variety given to me by Gerrit Oshan from the Dutch Gene Bank in Utrecht, I am told this gorgeous and most decorative mange tout is the source of a breeding effort in the USA to develop an improved variety – not that I think this beauty needs any improving.…

4 weeks ago 0 Comments Short URL

DIARY OF A SEED DETECTIVE PART…

Whilst filming in Myanmar developing a TV project about my work as a seed detective I found this very photogenic tomato in a market in Yangon. My Burmese cameraman Michael Zaw identified it as the Burmese Sour tomato. You can see a short video of me saving tomato seed and discovering this variety in the second half of this YouTube video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-AkAz4MmFwg The Burmese Sour is something of a delight. It is a local variety and forms part of traditional Burmese cuisine. I am saving seed to share in 2017. The tomato is early, prolific and lovely simply sliced with…

1 month ago 0 Comments Short URL

A GARDEN FULL OF BEANS

I am fortunate to be benefiting from a very productive year – so far – growing a range of beans to enjoy on the plate and also for seed to save, return to the Heritage Seed Library at Garden Organic and to share with other gardeners. This year I am growing a runner bean called Montacute.  Because runner beans cross-pollinate easily due to bee activity I have my neighbours grow the same variety.  I also grow a few in a distant part of the garden further isolated from neighbours.   It is an heirloom from the Somerset estate of the…

2 months ago 0 Comments Short URL

A PLETHORA OF PEAS

I love my peas and this year I have so many on the go, some new and some to replenish my stocks of seed as well as to eat!  This little darling is Betany Blue, an HSL variety of which i had just eight seeds so a precious cargo. None will be eaten, all will be saved for a proper harvest next year maybe. My most decorative and also delicious delight so far this summer is Jeaune de Madras, given to me by a fellow vegaholic in Holland.  Peas are native to India so the name is no surprise.  the…

3 months ago 0 Comments Short URL

LET US EAT LETTUCE

The winter of 2015/16 has been great for salad crops.  The mild weather has meant that even a summer lettuce like Little Gem has survived through the winter and makes a tasty addition to the hungry gap.  This little darling was harvested over the weekend.There are a trinity of rather lovely winter lettuce that are now almost at end in my garden.. Sown between September and October last year, they have provided me with a delicious and varied crop until now. First up is Latuccino, an Italian variety that was given to me by the gardener who looks after my…

4 months ago 0 Comments Short URL

NEWS FROM THE FRONT

I am just returned from a manic but hugely enjoyable trip to Australia attempting to persuade some broadcasters that they should be commissioning a new series called The Seed Detective which would tell the amazing stories about how our fruit and vegetables found their way into our food culture.  These are stories about human colonisation, genetics, and the importance of conserving what is left of the genetic diversity of our food.  Saving, seeking out and enjoying traditional, ex-commercial, heirloom and native varieties is what makes me tick. Victoria is a garden state and I met with cellist and heirloom gardener…

7 months ago 0 Comments Short URL

SAVING TOMATO SEED

The other day I met a lovely local horticulturist who is growing and selling vegetables just outside Abergavenny.  Claudia was keen to save some of her Italian heirloom tomatoes – her dad is Italian – and although I explain how to save tomato seed on the website I thought it might help to go through the process briefly with some illustrations. First harvest your ripe tomatoes and then let them ripen a little more somewhere warm and sunny. I then blanche large fruit and skin them before cutting them in half and scooping out the pulp with the seed in…

1 year ago 0 Comments Short URL

SYRIAN VEGETABLE HARVEST

The war in Syria has been devastating for farmers and the country’s position as the bread basket of the middle east.  Fortunately the Syrian seed bank has been safely smuggled out of the country and the vast gene pool is now in deep-frozen security in neighbouring countries and the seed bank in Svalbard, Norway.  However, I believe it is important to conserve as much as we can of Syria’s food heritage by growing their vegetables and sharing the seed with others who appreciate their special eating qualities. This year I am growing fava beans, courgettes and cucumbers from my small…

1 year ago 2 Comments Short URL

GENETIC PURITY IN ITTON

This year I am conducting an experiment in how to conserve genetic purity when growing a highly promiscuous runner bean for the Heritage Seed Library. Stenner is a wonderful old English variety which produces an abundant crop of very long – often prize-winning – delicious beans. However, runner beans cross-pollinate for a pastime so growing them for seed means they need to be isolated from other runner beans; not an easy thing to do if you have neighbours who also grow beans… unless of course you persuade them to grow the same one, which is exactly what is happening on…

2 years ago 0 Comments Short URL

SEED SOWING, SAVING AND SHARING

It’s that time of year, when I start to fantasise about my vegetable successes in 2015. Of course everything will grow perfectly but the reality is always different. Successes are tempered by failures and lessons always learned. Already I have the HSL onion Up to Date growing in the greenhouse so I can be sure of a good crop which i can then store through next winter to grow on for seed in 2016. In the first polytunnel that I have erected in my new vegetable garden Omani garlic is growing strongly despite the cold weather – or maybe because…

2 years ago 0 Comments Short URL