Friday, 8 January 2010

From a tiny seed

Our order of seeds arrived today. This is most of the seeds we are going to need for this years vegetable garden. We got them from The Real Seed Catalogue. These are all heritage seeds, some of which are varieties well over 100 years old. As we've looked into growing our own fruit and veg the kind of seeds we use has become more and more important. Here in England the weather is temperamental to say the least. We tend towards moderate and damp but we do get really warm patches and really cold ones too. We chose this company as they test all the seeds themselves, in Wales, to see how they fair in our climate. The ones in their catalogue should all work fairly well for us here. The reason we chose heritage seeds is simple. Less messing.

Most seed that you get from a garden centre of big catalogue are F1 hybrids. These have been bred to perform "better". This usually means more uniform in appearance and the plant fruiting all at the same time. While this is good for a commercial grower it's rubbish for us at home. F1s are bred from 2 or more kinds of plants to encourage certain characteristics. This means you can't really save seeds from them as they will revert back to the parent plants or just be sterile. Heirloom Plants breed true to type which means you can save your own seeds. In fact the company we bought from tells you how to save seeds from each different plant and actively encourages you to do so. What's that, a company encouraging you to not buy from them? Yup, that's right. So we have a bunch of really old varieties, a couple of which are weird ones such as yellow carrots and a cabbage tree! Did you know that orange carrots are relatively new, like the last couple of hundred years?

Anyhoo to get these cool kinds of veg they have to be a bit sneaky. According to EU regulations you can only sell certain kinds of seeds, those that have been certified, to the public. This is leading to many old varieties dying out. So by getting these seeds we have become members of the real seed club and that gets round it.

I like growing our own as we get the perfect ones and the ugly ones that supermarkets aren't allowed to sell. Under EU regulations (again) Vast amounts of fruit and veg are refused entry to our supermarkets based solely on appearance. Thankfully this abominable practice is being abandoned. So Will we eat wonky fruit and veg again?

Now I'm all out of pretty snowy pictures at the moment. I'm sure I'll take more this weekend.
So for now I leave you with a satellite picture of the UK at the moment.

Image courtesy of BBC

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