part 1: In the greenhouse
Obsessed with Seeds..
My obsession with growing vegetables started on a holiday in Cornwall when staying in a cottage on the Porth En Alls estate, when we were delivered a trug filled with heirloom vegetables. It was 18 years ago but I will never forget marvelling at the purple and white and yellow carrots, the beautiful chard and bunches of spinach. Back then, with only a tiny, very shady garden and no greenhouse, growing my own vegetables was a pipe dream which manifested itself in a passion for seed catalogues which I longingly perused with the same level of attention my husband gave car brochures full of fancy cars we were never going to own. Now I live in the countryside and have a vegetable garden and greenhouse, I study seed catalogues with a whole new level of excitement and enthusiasm. This year has been (unsuprisingly) fairly different. I normally try 4-5 new ‘out there’ tomato varieties which I order from Tomatofest, a brilliant website in the US (we grow A LOT of tomatoes) however this year we are just using up all our old seed packets which has been quite gratifying.
Usually we try one or two new things just for fun, things like agretti or cime di rapa, but this year we are sticking to all the tried and tested varieties we plant year in year out.
My Vegetable Varieties for 2020 IN THE GREENHOUSE
As well as raising all the seedlings we use the greenhouse for some of the tomatoes and a small, thin skinned cucumber variety called ‘Socrates’ plus early cut-and-come-again salad, chillies and herbs.
The cucumbers are planted in 3 wooden boxes on the greenhouse bench and are trained along wires on the ceiling. They are absolutely delicious and so prolific we run an annual competition to guess the number of cucumbers in a growing season. The prize is…. a cucumber.
Tomatoes are planted everywhere, not just in the in the greenhouse but also in adapted cattle troughs by the barn and in raised beds in the vegetable garden.
This Year’s Tomato Varieties:
* denotes varieties from TomatoFest
*Aunt Ruby’s German Green – a green beefsteak tomato with an excellent flavour but needs to be clearly labelled so you know it stays green and remember to pick it! Looks lovely in a salad.
San Marzano – the most famous Italian plum tomato. Great for sauces.
Sungold – a very familiar, excellent, sweet, orange-yellow cherry tomato – we grow every year.
Tigerella a delicious large red and orange/green striped tomato, another favourite.
*Gold Medal– a medium sized tomato. Looks like a peach, all soft yellows with a rosy blush. A favourite.
*Dagma’s Perfection – a medium sized, yellow tomato with a delicate fruity flavour
Black Cherry – small round, deep purple, mahogany-brown cherry tomatoes. Great flavour and they look excellent mixed with other tomatoes
*Hazel Gold a yellow beefsteak variety that grows well even in cooler climates like ours.
*Flamme – a golf ball sized, French, yellow tomato – great flavour
*Kellogs – proper orange beefsteak tomato with great flavour.
*Black Krim – A very dark, reddish brown beefsteak tomato with green streaks and a green gel surrounding the seeds. Deliciously tart and beautiful too. A favourite.
*Super Marmande – Heirloom, French beefsteak tomato a soft pinky red.
*Amy’s Sugar Gem – a sweet, very prolific, red cherry tomato.
*Brandywine – largish, red tomato, with a smooth almost buttery texture
Some interesting varieties we didn’t repeat
Spoon a tomato the size of a the size of a pea. The novelty appealed to me, they looked great and very cheffy but you couldn’t really taste them and they were so annoying to pick
Like last year we’ll squeeze what we can into the greenhouse (about 15 plants) and the rest will be planted outside in the coming weeks.
Chillies – a mix
Herbs – Newly grown from seed in the greenhouse this year – Greek Basil, Chervil and Coriander. Everything else has overwintered outside.
The Greenhouse Today
PART 2: IN THE VEGETABLE GARDEN