Tomato seed sales rocket 40% with First World War varieties the flavour of the month – but gardeners fear EU clampdown
- Foodies and tomato lovers tiring of buying mass-produced supermarket varieties
- Most popular tomato seeds include varieties introduced before WWI, like ‘Harbinger’
Sales of ‘heirloom’ British tomato seeds are soaring as foodies and tomato lovers tire of buying mass-produced supermarket varieties and turn to home-growing.
Tomato seed sales were up 40 per cent in the 2013 season according to figures from The Organic Gardening Catalogue, which has specialised in supplying seeds – some originating from before World War One – to organic gardeners for 50 years.
Some of the most popular tomato varieties driving the demand include the ‘Harbinger’ (introduced in 1910), ‘Golden Sunrise’ (1896) and ‘Ailsa Craig’ (1925) in an ever-expanding range of more than fifty colours, shapes and sizes.
The demand for more flavoursome fruit and vegetables has expanded alongside British households’ growing fussiness over their groceries and the origin of produce.
But niche tomato varieties stocked by retailers like Waitrose and M&S are often expensive and sometimes disappointing in flavour.
Michael Hedges, managing director of Surrey-based The Organic Gardening Catalogue, said: ‘Tomatoes remain the most widely-grown crop for home growers in the UK, and we’re seeing an increase in interest in the old varieties, ideally suited to home garden growing.
‘They typically have thinner skins, rich flavour and a long harvest and ripening period. It would be hard to find anything like these in the supermarket.
Continue reading “Tomatoes Seed Sales Rocket 40% With Heritage/Heirloom Tomatoes The Most Wanted”
I found this quite a fascinating little documentary that explores a wide variety of fruit and the importance of biodiversity for our food security.
The title of “Fruit Hunters” is attributed to people who travel the globe looking for rare and endangered fruits in order to preserve them and maintain diversity as well as just to simply enjoy them for eating.
This also covers the issues of things like taking certain fruits for granted and some history on almost losing Bananas from disease due to only having on variety and they also touch on them trying to develop more varieties.
These food hunters speak on the “living libraries” they are creating for preservation purposes as well as bringing new fruits to people via markets etc.
Now check out part 2:
Documentary made by “The Nature of Things” for CBS, thank you.
Quinoa is a high protein grain that was consumed by the ancient Incas civilisation of South America back in 3000 B.C. It is also currently a primary source of food and nutrition for modern day Bolivians and is now becoming recognised by those health conscious in the West and as a means to reduce hunger and malnutrition world wide.
The unmatched health properties of the only plant food that contains all the essential amino acids, trace elements and vitamins compelled the UN to declare 2013 the International year of Quinoa.
The high protein content is said to be great for those who prefer a vagan diet or are actively trying to reduce the amount of meat they are consuming. I believe this product is also available to buy in Health Food Shops and Supermarkets like Tesco if you want to “try before you grow” but do try and grow a bit of your own and reduce those airmiles on it, a bit of ‘Earth Care’. Anyway I’ll be growing some this coming year for you all to see at least.
I’m told it’s very easy to use, the grains are slightly larger than couscous and are cooked in a similar way to rice, with little spirals of white germ appearing as they expand. It goes well with most meals you would traditionally serve with rice such as curries, stews and tagines. I believe it can be used when making your own bread too, let me know how you get on.
Below shows uncooked and cooked:
I think this is best started in pots under cover in April if possible and then planted outdoors in May, they’ll end up reaching about 6 feet tall by the time they are flowering in July/August and seed are ready for harvest in Sept/Oct. Also unlike common grains like wheat just a few plants are required and are spaced 2 feet apart from each other.
Although Quinoa is usually thought of as a grain it’s worth noting that it’s actually related to the spinach, chard and beetroot family (Chenopodium). The Real Seed Company list two varities of Quinoa, a ‘Rainbow’ and a ‘Temuco’ and I advise you to grow both if you can and see which performs best in your region (micro climate). That said both of these grow well in wet and windy temperate climate here in the United Kingdom.
So granted we are hours away from 2014 but why not make a little space in your garden for Quinoa next year and see how life treats you.
In some regions of the world you can still naturally find white, yellow, red and purple carrots, this is the spectrum of colors carrots used to have but today in most countries carrots tend to be just orange. Why is that then?
Allegedly they are orange for entirely political reasons: in the 17th century, Dutch growers are thought to have cultivated orange carrots as a tribute to William of Orange – who led the the struggle for Dutch independence – and the color stuck. A thousand years of yellow, white and purple carrot history, was wiped out in a generation.
Although some scholars doubt if orange carrots even existed prior to the 16th century, they now form the basis of most commercial cultivators around the world. Presumably crosses between Eastern (purple), Western (white, red) and perhaps wild carrots led to the formation of the orange rooted carrot sub species. Turkey is often cited as the original birthplace of the hybrids (or mutations) of the two groups.
Whatever the origins, the Long Orange Dutch carrot, first described in writing in 1721, is the forebear of the orange Horn carrot varieties so abundant nowadays. The Horn Carrot derives from the Netherlands town of Hoorn in the neighborhood of which it was presumably bred. All our modern, western carrots ultimately descend from these varieties.
In fact the different colour pigments have have different health benefits also, colours like Purple are reported to have more antioxidant effects (anthocyanins). I will post more on that soon but for now don’t just stick to what the supermarkets or veg shops are providing, create something new yourself.
So why not try something different next year, break the mold and get something you can’t just pick up somewhere. Brighten up that plate a bit and enjoy all the variety in colors on offer.
The Read Seed Catalogue may be somewhere to pick up those seeds (and support) but they are widely available now really.
Top Fruit: Apple – Malus domestica (syn. Bardsey Island)
“Bardsey Island is a lonely wind-swept island off the tip of the Llyn Peninsular in North Wales, UK. It has long been a venue for pilgrims both pagan and later Christian. A single gnarled old tree was discovered near the remains of a 13th century abbey (in 1999), believed to have housed monks. Hailed as the rarest tree in the world (1000 years old) it is perhaps all that remains of the monastic orchard. It is the only apple variety from the Celtic welsh heartland. On the island both tree and fruit are completely disease free.”
The fruits are striped pink, medium sized and have a distinct scent of lemon. Excellent straight from the tree, the fruits are crisp, sweet and juicy. They will cook to a delicate light golden fluff and require no added sugar. Harvest at the end of September, keeps until November. Pollination Groub B.
If anyone’s interested I had a look around and it looks like your best off buying it from “Ian Sturrock & Sons” (£30 with delivery, two rootstocks available), it appears to be a Welsh Nursery with direct access to the people on the island, he’s also keeping records to this tree and how well it fairs on the mainland.
I think we should preserve the heritage of these old heirloom potato varieties, genetic diversity could be the key to future plant disease and pest cures and in turn help towards feeding a growing population.
A source of these Heritage and Conservation Seed Potatoes is a North East of England company called Carroll’s Heritage Potatoes, great stuff. Grow something different next year, spice it up a bit, get those good old potato tastes and textures from the almost forgotten past.
The Heritage Seed Library (for Tomatoes)
I just wanted to to put up a link to the “charity/club” as I joined a few years ago and support what they are doing, there is an argument out there at some of the more modern tomato varieties have been breed for disease resistance and yield and in doing so have lost some of those old interesting tastes qualities of yesteryear!
The Heritage Seed Library (formally known as The Henry Doubleday Research Association) based in the UK is well known for holding a large variety of old open pollinated Heritage and Heirloom varieties of vegetables that would have otherwise have been lost or forgotten.
The basic principle is that you become a member for £20 and they send you 6-7 varieties of what ever vegetables you wish for, so if your thing is tomatoes you can get those. It’s not exactly cheap at £3 a pack but you are supporting a cause here and it’s difficult to get access to these “lines” anywhere else so you pay for what you get.
I got other veg from them but the Tomatoes I got from them in seed Enorma, Jubilee and Sugar Italian Plum. I will be updating the blog with photo’s from my greenhouse soon showing you the good and the bad.
I also got some of the Plug plants from Delfland Nurseries but I will add another post for that too.
Let me know if you have a good source for open pollinated Heritage or Heirloom seed or can suggest a good tasty tomato for me?