CATALAN DISCOVERIES

A week in the Garrotxa region of Catalonia has proved most productive for this humble seed collector and saver.  It all started with a chance conversation and an introduction to Jesus Vegas, (pronounced Begas), who lives near Montagut close to the border with France.  A passionate protector of both Catalan and Spanish native and heirloom vegetables, I was able to spend several happy hours checking out his library of some 150 varieties and admire his wonderful garden where he grows heirloom and local varieties for food, to sell and to share the seed with a group of about 50 like-minded souls throughout Spain.two seed savers compare notes
I stayed near the medieval town of Santa Pau, which is now famous for its small white bean which is about to get special denomination status. It has a firm texture and nutty flavour and is usually eaten with the famous local sausage called Butifarra. or as I had it, pearled barley and crispy onion. Needless to say, I have brought some home to grow myself as well as two other beans I found in a little shop in another medieval town in the mountains called Rupit. Mongeta del Ganxet D’en Pere de Slica D’Amunt is a small white flagelot type from the Valies region and from near the town of Olot and very similar to Santa Pau, Mongeta La Val d’en Bas.Three local varieties, Fasol Santa Pau, Val D'en Bas and Del Ganxet
Catalans like to squeeze tomato onto their bread. It is a delicious alternative to butter or oil. They grow a special type of tomato for the purpose which they call Tomate de Penjar which are often sold on strings like onions for storing through the winter, but are grown and eaten from late spring onwards. Jesus had several varieties and gave me two of his favourites, Llagostera, which is the name of the place it comes from and Piel de Melocoton, or Peach Skin. I shall be growing both next year and will hopefully have seed to share.Jesus Vegas seed bank Jesus’ library was a rich trove of goodies. He gave me a purple broad bean called Reina Mauva, (Purple Queen), which is very rare but was widely grown in the region at one time and a purple seeded pea called Negra del Bergada. He has promised me some seed from another pea called Avi Joan, (Abi Juan) which was named after his wife’s grandfather who grew the variety for decades. It is a genuine heirloom with large, sweet peas on plants about 1.5 metres tall. I cannot waitpea Avi Joan

7 thoughts on “CATALAN DISCOVERIES

  1. Hello Adam,
    I’ve had seeds from you in the past, Chiang Rai and Luang Prabang chillies which I still grow year after year and which are excellent varieties. As I’m off to Catalunya at the end of August for 10 days I’m very interested in bringing back some Catalan varieties and am wondering if it’s possible to contact Jesus Vegas to visit him. Not knowing how obtaining these varieties works, I’d like to exchange some heritage Irish varieties with him (from our own seed savers association here), but would also buy them if that’s possible.
    Can you tell me how I might go about doing this?
    Thank you,

    • Hi Tricia,

      I am delighted that you are having success with your chillies. I am growing some Syrian ones this year with a view to sharing them in the future as the situation with seed saving there is disastrous. Watch this space.

      Jesus is lovely but only speaks Spanish or Catalan so you might need a translator. His telephone number is: 872 005012. Mobile: 696 393629 (plus Spanish code I guess). His address is Mas Trull, Ecollavores, 17855 Montagut Girona. Emial ecollavores@gmail.comHe isn’t interested in any other varieties – I offered to send him some from my collection. (on which subject, what might you have that would interest me???). Do please let him know you found about him from my website as I promised to spread the word for him. he is charming, the location is to die for and he has a very extensive collection.

      Good luck and keep me posted please, Adam

  2. Hello Adam,
    Thanks very much for all the info about Jesus. I might indeed need a translator so that’s something to take into consideration, but I have a friend from Barcelona who would send an email on my behalf so we’ll see how that goes. I’ll check through my seeds and see what might interest you. We have both Rocoto and Locoto plants this year, the seeds of both varieties given to us by friends so you’d be welcome to have some of those at the end of the season. I also have saved seed of Espelette and am hoping to find some of Guernika pepper while in Spain. I can send you some dried fruits of a hot chilli that was bought in a market in Rome earlier this year,small conical fruits, probably a commercial variety but don’t know which one. I’m also growing Irish Green Pea, originally from Irish Seedsavers that are very prolific and a good old-fashioned taste so if interested can certainly send you some of those too.
    Anyway, thanks again and will let you know how my communications with Jesus go.
    All the best,
    Tricia

    • Hi Trish,

      Glad you might be able to find a translator. I am growing brown rocoto this year and have plenty of red. A friend is growing yellow rocoto for me but I fear he might cross it with red. if you have any yellow I would be interested. I would love some Guernika if you find any. Not interested in the Rome round chilli. I have some like that which are commercial from eastern Europe. The green Irish pea sounds very interesting. I would love to try it. Is it a tall variety?

      Happy seed hunting,
      Adam

  3. Having just read through other bits of your blog, I’m intrigued by the Omani garlic, having lived in Oman for 5 years teaching English. I’d never have associated Oman with garlic so would be interested in how it turns out. As for Syria, it’s great that you are growing seeds from there and maybe we could do a swap so that I could give them a go next year? I was able to visit the country 3 times between 1992-1995 on holiday from Oman and really liked the people and country as a whole, but wasn’t really into veg growing at the time as I didn’t have a garden so didn’t think to see what seeds were available.
    The rocoto chilli that you have a picture of is very different to the plants that we have so I’ll send you a picture of one of ours so you can see the difference. I think there are quite a few different varieties depending on which part of South America they come from. Our Bolivian Locoto fruit are more conical than the Rocoto,which isa smallish,round and very fleshy fruit. Both are black-seeded and purple-flowered.

    Tricia

  4. I am trying to identify a magnificient squash I recently had the pleasure of eat8ng. Frsh, it tastes like a melon. Roasted it is a very sweet and delicious. I was told it was a Catalan de Plana from Catalonia. I have been unable to find this variety listd, and thought you might know something. I have a photo, but could not seem to attach it. The sauash is blue green on the vine, ripening to tan eith some green remain8ng. The flesh is orange. The size is approximately 4-8 pounds.
    Maureen

    • Hi Maureen, I don’t know the squash you have grown. It isn’t listed as a Catalan variety. Maybe the spelling is different. You can email me a photo and I will see if it has a familiar look. My email address is adam at my website.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *