Now of all my Christmas presents, the ones which most fired up my imagination were the series of intriguing little packets which dropped through my door one by one in the week or so leading up to the Big Day.
These are the contents of my Seedy Stocking Stuffers: a wizard wheeze dreamt up by Emma and taken up with enthusiasm by fellow veg-growing addicts Andy, Charlotte, Liz and Ali, as well as myself.
I did find myself rather humbled by the result: I save a little seed, but not that much, and blithely signed up before realising that actually, the contents of my seed packet shoebox weren’t quite as inspiring as they ought to be.
I did manage to send out some rather lovely beans I saved: blue (‘Kew Blue’), purple (‘Cosse Violette’) and brown (‘Coco’)as well as bog-standard green. But mostly, I didn’t come anywhere close to the delights I received in the post: so here’s a public thank you to all those who have given me the chance to try so many plants I’ve been wanting to grow for ages, and a sorry for fobbing you off with less interesting fare.
So from my box of treasures, here are the ones I shall most look forward to growing this year:
For my herb garden, I have some orach ‘Magenta Magic’ from Ali and some red and green perilla from Charlotte: the large French sorrel (also from Charlotte) should cope (and indeed spread like mad) on the shady side of the herb patch and look suitably handsome, too.
My tropical edibles garden has suddenly taken shape in a way it was struggling to do before: I can’t wait to get my Achocha ‘Fat Baby’ in the ground (thanks Ali and Charlotte, again) and – yay!! – at last I have some oca tubers to sow (thank you Emma!) though I have to somehow prevent them rotting off before I get them in the ground. I may just plonk them in a pot in the (heated) greenhouse for now as otherwise I think they’ll all be goners. Plus the giant sunflowers are making a comeback: I now have a pack of ‘Russian Giant’ from Liz. Tape measures at the ready!
And for the veg garden: can’t wait to sow the 5ft high climbing pea ‘Telephone’ – Liz and Ali, and possibly another candidate for the tape measure – and my tomato needs are very nearly taken care of too, what with the plum tomato ‘Scatolone’ (Liz), good old ‘Gardeners’ Delight’ (Andy) and ‘Sweet Pea Currant’ (Charlotte): tiny, delicious, and worth growing just for the name.
Of those plants I’ve never even thought about growing, I shall watch the ‘Potimarron’ squash (Ali) with fascination as it gallops around my plot; Italian capers (Emma) are a new one on me and I have no idea what to expect; and sea beet (Emma) I’m pretty sure I’ve picked wild on the seashore in my youth but never actually tried to grow.
Well who would have thought it. It’s still only January and I have a list as long as my arm of delicious things to fill my garden. I have a feeling it’s going to be a good year!
Plant Mad Nige said:
Some lovely stuff for next year. Presumably the Italian caper is simply a form of Capparis spinosa but without the spines. I'm not sure how you harvest and store capers, but I love the taste of them and the flowers are rather beautiful – a bit like exploded shaving brushes.
The Constant Gardener said:
I think it's this caper: http://www.originaltouch.co.uk/acatalog/Caper.html which is Capparis inermis. You eat the immature flower buds (a bit like Nasturtium buds – my only other known caper substitute). No mention of spines (thank goodness!)Looking forward to the exploded shaving brushes too!