Planning for next year – colourful heritage and compact veg from seed
Even though the gardening season appears to be winding down, next year’s has already started – it’s one of my favourite times, as it brings the hope of a better future (and nice new things to grow).
The seed companies are out of the blocks with new catalogues – here is Dobies with its new vegetable range – 31 innovative and heritage varieties to try.
I’ve chosen my top 10 – not necessarily because I’ll be growing them but because I think they’ll be of most use to beginners and those with less space, so good in pots. Of course, bright colours and unusual names played a part too!
These colourful little pumpkins grow to just 8cm in diameter, ideal for cooking or as Halloween decorations. Stuff or bake them – each is one perfect portion size.
The skins can also be eaten, just boil for 5 minutes before baking and enjoy, £2.99.
This British bred purple-headed stem broccoli can be harvested as single broccoli or left to split and form spears like sprouting broccoli. The compact plants are ideal for exposed sites and are very easy to grow.
Purple Rain crops from July to November. adding colour to beds, borders, or raised beds. Height up to 60cm, spread up to 50cm, £2.99.
Flowering 10-12 weeks later than Genovese basil, plants have a longer harvest time, hence the name ‘Everleaf’. It has a tight, columnar habit, perfect for pots.
Harvest from mid-June to October, height 81-90cm, spread 21-30cm, £2.49.
This vigorous mini Pak Choi variety performs well in mid-summer with good bolt tolerance. Plants last a couple of weeks longer than regular varieties without going to seed. Ideal for succession sowing for a continued harvest.
The compact habit means they’re ideal for pots and can be harvested from mid-May until December. Height 1-10cm, spread 1-10cm, £2.49.
A club root resistant variety with tight white curds protected by large leaves. High-quality summer/autumn variety, harvest from August-October from April-June sowing.
Height 61-70cm, spread 61-70cm, £3.49.
An old German heritage variety with prolific crops of red, golf ball-sized fruits with a dark blood-red juice. Its fruits have a proper tomato taste which works well in sandwiches, salads and in sauces.
Cordon variety, harvesting late June-early October, height 151-200cm, spread 51-60cm. From the Rob Smith Heritage Range, £3.00.
Originating from Jamaica, these chillies have a rich smokey flavour and are used to make jerk sauce, fiercely hot at 300,000- 400,000 SHU (Scoville Heat Units)!
It’s called the Chocolate Habanero after its dark brown colour. The bushes grow fairly large to a height of 71-80cm and a spread of 41-50cm with strong stems and are ready to harvest between August- October, £2.99.
This old Austrian Heritage variety of Cos lettuce is very cold hardy and slow to bolt. It has unusual splashes of red on the bright green leaves, resembling the skin of the fish. Easy to grow and pretty in borders, this heritage variety will create eyecatching beds and borders.
Harvest from late April to October, it’s one of the sweetest Cos lettuces available. Height 21-30cm, spread 21-30cm, from the Rob Smith Heritage Range, £2.50.
Illusion F1 is a synergistic variety, meaning the kernels are even more tender than super sweet varieties but just as sweet. With excellent cool weather vigour, it’s more reliable in the UK climate.
Producing white cobs (with the odd yellow kernel) and excellent ‘tip fill’ means that Illusion F1 produces better, fuller cobs up to 20cm long. Harvest August to September, height 151-200cm, spread 41-50cm, £2.99.
This two-tone Swiss chard’s leaves graduate from flamingo pink to white and deep green, meaning they look great in flower borders as well as the veg garden.
The leaves can be used like spinach or cabbage, while the midribs can be cooked as separate vegetables. Harvest July to October, height 61-70cm, spread 41-50cm, £2.99.
For more information visit www.dobies.co.uk.