In the Gardening section of the Telegraph last Saturday there was an article written by one of my gardening heroes, Noel Kingsbury. His books have been a huge inspiration to me, so when I saw the column entitled Heritage vegetables aren't necessarily the best, I grabbed the paper and settled down to see what he had to say.
Mmmm?!! lots to think about there Noel. So, am I a 'Vegetable Luddite' ? I suppose that if my aim was to grow enough food for us to be self sufficient all year round I would organise my plot in a very different way and yes Noel, probably I would grow modern varieties. So my motivation must be something other than putting food on my plate – I like the fact that by growing old and almost forgotten varieties of vegetables my garden is full of surprises (some good, some not so good). I have also happened upon varieties of veg that suit my garden and my taste – I've never tasted a better runner bean that 'Salford Black' or seen bean plants grow so abundantly with so little effort. And Noel, the 'Nero de Toscana' kale in my garden is tender and delicious.
Have a read and see what you think. Meanwhile here's a roundup of some of the unusual and distinctive heritage peas in my vegetable plot . . .
Old varieties of peas often have two-tone mauve/magenta flowers, and not just the purple podded varieties. Here's 'Carouby de Maussane', a large and delicious mange tout originally from near Avignon in France . . .
The pea I selected from the Heritage Seed Library catalogue this year was 'Victorian Purple Podded', and over the past few weeks it has been the star of the vegetable garden – tall (2.5 metres) and as statuesque as a Victorian duchess in a tightly laced corset, its sweet-pea lookalike flowers will have centre stage in the borders next year.
The long purple pods are looking good too, so I can't wait to taste those peas . . .
Here's 'Golden Sweet' glowing in the sun beams. This is not only noted for it's delicious flavour but has great historic pedigree - it was one of the pea varieties grown by Gregor Mendel for his experiments in genetic inheritence. 'Golden Sweet' is also one of the parent plants for the amazing red podded pea bred by Daughter of the Soil .
And – WHAT IS THIS!!!
Another amazing pea variety from the Heritage Seed Library that Daughter of the Soil grew last year and kindly sent me some seeds. The vertically ridged stems are thick and strong, like no other pea, this is a real curiosity . . .
and here are the flowers of pea 'Salmon Flowered', aren't they gorgeous! Now, I wonder what the pods and peas will be like?
So am I a 'Vegetable Luddite' ? Or just infatuated with curious and beautiful edible plants!