Things we’ve grown

Varieties of seeds/plants which I’ve inherited through swaps, from the Heritage Seed Library or smaller seed suppliers seem to have sparse amounts of information available so I started this page to collate what information I can on them.  Any information here will be my own research or experience, plus information from catalogues and books. If a blog or website has better information I’ll link to them so please do let me know if there’s anything I could add.

From some of these things I might have seeds to share, and am happy to do so if you are within the EU and really interested in growing them. Please leave a comment or contact me via the form on the “About” page.

Pea  – Golden sweet

Pea Golden Sweet hiding behind bread seed poppies

Pea Golden Sweet hiding behind bread seed poppies

Pale yellow mange tout pods on medium tall (up to 1.5m, much shorter when I grew the on a shallow soil above solid chalk), with bicolour flowers in deep pink and purple. Very prolific, fairly large pods.  Seed is dimpled and tan flecked with purple, and the occasional seed is all purple. It is said that is is drought tolerant and to dry well as a soup pea, and may be one of the peas Mendel experimented on.   I can’t corroborate any of these facts…

My stock originated with Real Seeds who observe that the yellow colour makes picking easier, which is very true, and the reason I then looked for purple podded peas the following year!  They sometimes turn up in the Heritage Seed Library catalogue.


Rebsie (whose blog is much missed) has a marvellous detailed and much more erudite review here:

Søren’s observations with some very nice photos of both seeds and pods:

Real Seeds, who sell the seed:

Pea – Kent Blue

Flowers of Kent Blue pea

Flowers of Kent Blue pea

One of many favourite HSL allocations, I chose it because it had been grown in Sevenoaks since the 1940s. The bicoloured flowers turn from maroon and pink to navy and pale blue as they mature.  The pods are smallish and sweet, and can be eaten as mange tout or mature peas (we mostly do the former).  Plants are quite short for us, which is convenient as our garden is exposed.  Since growing this I have discovered numerous other peas with lovely coloured flowers but I retain a soft spot for this variety – Pauline Pears was quoted as saying it’s the best pea she has ever grown and she knows her onions (and peas…).  Seeds are prettily speckled, most convenient for those seed-admiring moments in the dark days of winter…


Pea  – Victorian Purple Podded

Tall. Pink and claret flowers, lots of purple pods (the latter may not come as a surprise but the former is worth noting). “Vigorous dense plants” are promised by the HSL and this is true but the colour of the pods makes it easy to spot them – handy as the pods can be eaten as mange tout while immature.  It isn’t a “true” mange tout as the inner skin does become tough if you don’t catch them young.  Still beautiful on a plate, with for example Golden Sweet and Kent Blue.

Victorian Purple Podded Peas in flower, "fruit" and drying for seed

Victorian Purple Podded Peas in flower, “fruit” and drying for seed

Pea – Parsley Pea

Parsley pea tendrils and flowers

Parsley pea tendrils and flowers

Named for the “mutated” tendrils, which are actually more like leaves and are said to resemble curled parsley – it’s a bit of a stretch to say this in my opinion but they are herby. Plants will need staking because of the lack of tendrils – string wound between posts is helpful, or we have grown them in a hanging basket! They are only about 45cm high when staked upright.  The tendrils taste of peas so it’s a nice addition to your pea collection, letting you get the flavour early and more economically perhaps than pea sprouts.  The peas themselves are, of course, also nice to eat, but they aren’t the point of this variety, I think.  Ooh, also, it’s round seeded, and I can’t remember what that signifies…

Chilli Pepper –  Trifetti

White flowers with a purple edge which produce blunt, dark purple-black fruit, about 1 inch long. These will eventually turn an orangey shade of red.  The “tri” part is in the leaves, which are striped with cream and, I find, prone to creasing up and making young seedlings look a bit sickly.  HSL (where my seeds came from) recommends a long season. We managed to over winter mature plants but with difficulty. Seedlings are certainly fairly slow to grow and it has a delicate habit, being sparsely branched and leaved, with a “tree shaped” outline.  Fruit is pretty hot raw but it is useful for cooking, and because of the shape, easy to deseed once halved.  It has been suggested that it is attractive as a houseplant but I can’t get over the colour of the leaves!

From seed catalogue descriptions it may also be the same plant as Purple Tiger or more likely Tricolour Variegata .  Some descriptions say the flowers are purple but I’ve found all of ours to be this white and purple mix which is very pretty.

Bean – Pea Bean

Pea bean seeds, burgundy and white with splashes

Pea bean seeds, burgundy and white with splashes

A climber, supposed to be disease resistant, eventually the green pods turn yellow and bumpy, as the seeds themselves are fairly round.  The beans are half white and half burgundy, often with burgundy “splashes” on the white half. Raw beans supposed to taste similar to peas, immature beans supposed to be cooked as for French beans.  Most common use is for drying to use in soups etc.  I haven’t yet tasted the pods or “peas” as I’ve only grown them to increase my seeds so far!  This is still a commercially available variety – my seeds originated from the Organic Gardening catalogue.

Bean – Poletschka

Another climber, this time an heirloom variety sourced from the Heritage Seed Library.  Its name is in honour of the donor’s family, who originate from Western Ukraine. Green pods, knobbly again because of the fat, roundish jet black seeds – described by HSL as blackcurrant-like.

Climbing French Bean Poletschka

Climbing French Bean Poletschka

Another climber, this time an heirloom variety sourced from the Heritage Seed Library.  Its name is in honour of the donor’s family, who originate from Western Ukraine. Green pods, knobbly again because of the fat, roundish jet black seeds – described by HSL as blackcurrant-like.

They say: “Stringless pods are prolific with a long cropping season”. Nice taste, but should be picked small (before they go too bumpy) or can used as a dried bean – they look lovely so I think would be a good alternative to “turtle” beans in chillis or soups, but I haven’t tried them as I haven’t had space to grow enough for drying yet.

Bean – Hungarian Butter

Heirloom, early dwarf variety donated to the HSL in 1980 but believed to date back to 1890. Used dried but can also be eaten green. Lovely milk chocolate coloured “kidney”shaped beans.

Sorrel – Shchavel

Russian (hence the name) tough variety, can provide greenery all year round. Description from HSL is that it is succulent, tangy, good for salad, soup, quich and stir fries. I haven’t bothered to save seed from this type as I couldn’t tell the difference, not being much of a connoisseur of sorrel, from the other types we had growing, but I think I still have some seed and will try again another time.  Can obviously be divided which is probably easier than trying to save seed.

DFB Black Valentine (green bean, prolific fat, tender pods – also beautiful black kidney beans)
CFB Kew Blue (purple green bean or drying bean, lovely purple tinge to leaves/stalks, v decorative as well as tasty)
CFB Polish Purple Stringless (stripey green bean or drying bean – attractive and prolific)

Vine tomato – cooking – Italian Heirloom (not enormously productive but very useful and tasty big heart shaped fruits)
Vine tomato – cooking – My Girl (my favourite cooking tom so far – very few seeds and lots of dry flesh)
Vine tomato – cherry – Black Cherry (some people find it insipid and this may be down to strains or growing conditions or taste but I found it delicious!)
Vine tomato – eating or grilling – Brooks Special (a “traditional” tomato that is lovely dry fried or grilled as a hot vegetable)


5 thoughts on “Things we’ve grown

  1. kath says:

    This is really interesting! I have Trifetti as one of my HSL choices this year – and a seed-swapping frined sent me Kent Blue and another sent Golden sweet. Nice to find out something about them beforehand.

    Good luck with the season. Surely we’re due a decent one?

  2. Bugs says:

    Thanks very much Kath – I hoped it would be useful to someone eventually but I’m so pleased to have a comment so soon! I’ve got (short) notes on about 20 other varieties to come so I’ll try to get a shift on.

    I’m hoping that what seems to be a “proper winter” will be followed by a proper spring and a proper summer…fingers, toes, and anything else that will flex enough crossed!

  3. marigold says:

    Lovely blog esculentetc! I grew some peabeans this year. They are delicious to eat as small pods – not particularly pea-flavoured IMO, though they do look like small mangetout. I can’t think of anything to compare them with taste-wise, so you’ll have to make up your own mind when you try them – tender and green is the best I can manage!

    They are (in my now vast experience!) easy to grow. Mine are in a large container and got such a vicious battering by stormy weather when they were first planted out that I thought they would never recover, but they grew into fine plants and have cropped quite well. The crop is small compared to runner beans and the pods go from just right to too big in a very short space of time, so you need quite a lot of plants to get regular feeds of them.

    The small young pods are a bit elusive amongst the foliage, so picking is a slightly more tedious task than runner beans. I think in an ideal situation I would grow them in single rows up a wide-meshed net stretched between posts so they could be picked from both sides. I’ve left most of the crop to go to seed now, so I can try them as a dried bean and have some to share next season. If they dry out successfully that is – it may be a little late now for them to fully mature and ripen on the vines.

  4. Bugs says:

    Hello Marigold! Thank you for visiting and for your comment too. I think you’re right about them going over – we’ve still mainly only managed to grow sufficient for saving seeds and to try a few cooked as beans (rather than pods) but not enough to draw any conclusions. They are so pretty I intend to persevere though, and look forward to trying them as a pod at some point.

    I could easily grow a lot of beans…

I love to hear your experiences and advice - would you like to comment on this post?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s