We’re being generally less adventurous this year particularly in the annual vegetables and seed-saving, but we have been attempting to start off quite a few more long term plants. A quick round-up of new experiments and old friends:
Spis Bladene kale from the HSL – thought to be a perennial which is its main appeal for us, but it sounds like an attractive plant that might be to our tastes too. We love the mustardy flavour of kale flower spikes and the HSL’s description of “peppery” sounds promising. More details on the Adopt a Veg Kales page. The plants are still too young to be interesting but as usual great germination from HSL seed. I’ve always assumed it’s just fresher and kept with more enthusiasm and care by Seed Guardians and the HSL itself than Some Commercial Companies.
Agroforestry Research Trust seeds – I confess this is mainly my better half’s domain, and probably to be the subject of more detailed posts as things start to (hopefully) germinate and grow. The whole order of around 40 (!) different seeds is a bit of a gamble – not all of them are strictly/solely edible but all have some particular use in mind. Highlights that have germinated so far include three Pinus pinea (stone pine, the source of pine nuts), Claytonia sibirica, Turkish rocket, some unusual hawthorns, reeds, one Szechuan pepper, and limes (the European Tilia rather than citrus).
Cambridge Gage – this is my little experiment. A punnet of barely a dozen fruits from Waitrose last year were very tasty especially given that they’ve been through a supermarket supply chain and the associated chilling. As they were sourced from the Tiptree estate (makers of the tasty and rather posh jams…including James Bond’s favourite I seem to recall!) I thought it would be quite pleasant to have them grow. Some research and consulting of more knowledgeable people suggested it was worth a go in terms of the likelihood of (a) the seeds growing (b) eventual fruiting and (c) that the fruit would be edible, even similar to the parent. So in to the fridge with some of the ART seeds they went, and behold, half a dozen germinated and I now have some sturdy little plants to nurture.
Chinese artichokes – a friend has kindly presented us with two pots of this in exchange for some oca and yacon, so that’s another exciting perennial for the list.
HSL experiment – mango ginger. Not doing very well at all. Followed instructions, got nowhere. Put in heated propagator – turmeric alongside it practically got up and walked, but mango ginger continues sulking and looking unhappy. I’m a bit disappointed in this as we’ve had reasonable success with pot grown turmeric and I had the impression from the trials description that they felt this was a useful plant to grow, but it looks most unhopeful to me.
Old friends – yacon and oca, both originally from Real Seeds, we have found to be worth growing again, although still struggling to find yacon its niche in the kitchen (stir fries are top of the list so far, and it really is the right flavour and texture for them..but I don’t like stir fries that much!). Oca we love in winter stews. Other things lurking in pots include eddoes (never harvested yet) and bananas, turmeric, seakale. That’s off the top of my head…slightly less established friends include Vietnamese coriander (robust and pretty but it tastes and smells horrible to us!) and Arctic raspberries (vigorous, attractive and the single berry we have had was delicious, but may have been a one-off – plants found at a market last year and nursed in pots through to this year, they really need to go in the ground).