The seed sowing season is in full swing and I’m lucky to be trialling some new varieties from Sutton’s. I spent many hours flicking through their brightly coloured catalogue and narrowed my selection to a top ten list of favourites to try for the first time.
10. Peacock White Kale
I have to admit, I’m not a huge fan of eating kale. I much prefer the more subtle flavour of chard, but I’m not growing this just for the taste. I’m an absolute sucker for texture and shape in the garden (this explains why I am so fern obsessed). Kale is quite tolerant of most growing conditions as long as there is enough nutrients and moisture in the soil. I hope this unusual this Peacock White variety will be at home along side some foliage friends in my woodland corner, where the temperatures will be comfortably cooler in the height of summer.
9. Frizzle Sizzle Raspberry Pansies
In the bleak winter months when the garden is mostly brown, this striking Frizzle Sizzle Raspberry Pansy will give the eyes a much needed pop of fruity colour. I can just imagine those petals slowly unfolding and bursting into life on a cold November day alongside cyclamen whose leaf shape it mirrors.
8. Round Midnight Basil
Growing and eating purple foods is SO on trend! James Wong has an excellent article inside the Sutton’s seed catalog about the importance of eating colourfully (see page 62). Basil is one of my favourite summer herbs to grow and not only is it a fantastic companion plant for your tomatoes, but it tastes great in any Italian-style meal. Be it pasta, pizza, salads or pretty much anything with tomato. I can’t wait to try the purple Round Midnight variety to see how the flavour compares to the vibrant green we all know and love.
7. Lauren’s Grape Poppy
I’ll be continuing the trending purple theme into my flowers this year too. This velvety purple Lauren’s Grape Poppy is going to provide a contrasting POP of colour to the borders. I’m sure the bees will love landing on those centre pads and the skeletal seed heads will provide some structural winter interest.
6. Blauwschokker Peas
Purple flowers, purple food, pretty much anything purple is trending! That’s partly because ‘Ultra Violet’ is Pantone’s Colour of The Year for 2018. Not only do the Blauwschokker Peas have purple pods, but they have delicate bi-coloured purple flowers too! I chose these peas because you can not only eat the juicy green peas, but you can also pick the pods early to eat them as mangetout. Intrigued by the ‘Blauwschokker’ name, I did a little research and found that this heirloom variety originates in Holland and its name simply translates from the Dutch ‘blue pod’. The fat, round peas were traditionally used in Holland to make thick soups or stews called Erwtensoep or Snert, so it looks like l might have to find a Dutch recipe for these peas!
Oops! It looks like I got carried away in the flower section and picked a variety that isn’t new to Sutton’s. The cheerful Snowpuff has a very charming name and familiar flower. Part of the Matricaria genus, I love the simplicity and natural wild-flower feel. I’ll be planting these along with some cosmos for a meadow look at the top of my garden.
4. Ladybird Nasturtiums
Nasturtiums are a flower that everyone should grow. They’re edible, the bees LOVE them, the seeds are easy to collect and the leaves are like pretty little lily pads. When I saw the new Ladybird variety I knew I had to try them. The allotment this year will have a palette of pinks sweeping through the plot and these delicate, blossom-pink blooms will look great running along the front of my borders, attracting pollinators to the plot.
3. Peruvian Lemon Drop Chillies
I’ve heard great things about the shiny , yellow Lemon Drop Chilli. I do love some spice in my food and from what I know already, this zesty variety has a slight lemon flavour, is a heavy cropper and well suited to the British climate. It rates 30,000-50,000 on the scoville scale, so the heat should be comparable to a cayenne or tobacco. I’m looking forward to trying these in summer stir-fries and homemade hot sauces.
2. Queen Red Lime Zinnia
WOW, I mean, just look at them! The Queen Red Lime Zinnia is going to make a spectacular cut flower. I love the layering of petals and that incredible pink to lime colour. These will coordinate well with the Ladybird nastursims and provide some fancy shape, texture and height (60-70cm) to the display.
1. Honey Boat Squash
I had a successful harvest of squash in 2017 and my number 1 in my choice list is all down to the taste. The heritage Honey Boat Squash is claimed to be as sweet as a sweet potato and you can even eat the skin! The appearance isn’t too dissimilar to the stippetti spaghetti squash that I grew last year, with dark green stripes running down the length. I’m so excited to grow some Honey Boat Squash. This is probably what I am looking forward to harvesting the most, although it’ll be a long wait, but totally worth it.
After writing this I’m even more eager to get sowing. I already have the Lemon Drop chillies coming along nicely and I’ll be sowing all the others in the coming weeks. Are you growing any from my list? Let me know!
Sutton’s have very kindly gifted me these seeds. This is not something I have been paid to do! I’ll be sharing my honest feedback and progress with you. Images sourced from Sutton’s.