Saturday, 21 February 2009

Heritage Seeds.

Recently I have joined the Heritage Seed Library, this organisation aims to conserve and make available vegetable varieties that are not widely available. Some of the varieties that gardeners have grown in years gone by, have become extinct as they are no longer listed on the National List. This is a great shame as some of these varieties are heirloom or heritage varieties which are open pollinated and preserve diversity.

F1 hybrids are becoming the norm in lots of our seed catalogues, these seeds have been bred to withstand pests and diseases and produce uniform vegetables that appeal to many gardeners. One of the disadvantages to F1 Hybrids is the price of the seeds they produce.

The work that the HSL do is really important and I am happy to support this. They do not sell seed so you have to join. It costs £20 a year and they send you 6 varieties of seeds of your choosing plus one lucky dip from the catalogue which contains 200 varieties.

For many years I have saved flower seed but never before have I considered saving the seed of vegetables. So this year I will be saving seed of all my peas and beans. There are a number of reasons to do this, firstly I can used the seed for next year, secondly I am helping in conserving our heritage varieties and last but not least it will enable me to share the collected seed with others for them to try in their own gardens or plots.

I have also been able to secure some varieties that I am going to grow out and review. Many Thanks to Dave - American Gardener. My ultimate aim with these varieties is to grow them out and then dish them out! I have made a start on these varieties today, all have been sown into root trainers and are sitting in the utility room. Won't risk putting them in the greenhouse as the mice actually dig up my pea and bean seeds. I have photographed the different seeds, some are smooth, some are wrinkled, they are different colours and sizes. Some are really pretty, speckled, and variegated. Just by looking and playing with the seed you can see the range of diversity in the palm of your hand. I am also looking forward to tasting these varieties.

These are the varieties I am growing:
Glory of Devon
The Marquis
Duke of Albany
Early Bird
Blue Prussian
Early Blue
Big Ben
Royal Salute
Blue Bird
Prince Albert
British Lion
Purple Podded (Thanks to SarzWix)
Gladstone (Thanks to SarzWix)
Clarkes Beltony Blue - HSL
Ne Plus Ultra - HSL

I am also growing a few beans: Coco Nano, Limelight, Black Prince, Kew Blue and Early Warwick.
Most of the varieties listed, I have only five seeds of each, so they will be guarded like treasure.

Can't wait to see how they turn out.

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