on this page.
The page heading may be a bit
misleading, it's called "Webmaster's Favourites" because a large section of
it contains a list of my own personal favourite varieties of plants and
vegetables selected over 40 years of growing vegetables
(click HERE to go to
Whilst this list represents what I personally call my
favourites, you, the visiting reader, may have a completely different
list that you may consider to be a lot better. It's all down to personal
choice really. Experience, methods of cultivation, and of course, different
varieties, give different results depending on the allotment (or garden's)
geographic location, soil types, length of cultivation and individual
cultivation methods etc. etc.
Variations and choices are never
ending and at the end of the day "one man's meat is another man's poison"!
However if you're new to this game you shouldn't go too far wrong with the
varieties I've listed, but PLEASE experiment yourself and if you get
good results then don't be shy of getting in touch if you think I should
change my mind regarding my choices. At the end of the day, there are so
many varieties (with new ones coming out each season) that one would have to
live to be a thousand years old before every variety is tested and sampled
in identical growing seasons. Seed catalogues give rough descriptions of
what to expect from different varieties, but bear in mind that EVERY variety
listed in a catalogue is there to be sold! So don't take what's advertised
to be the gospel, check out unbiased independent advice - that usually comes
in the form of fellow growers, or neighbour plotters on the site where you
strut your stuff!
I'm Gwilym and I'm the Webmaster of
this web-site and one of the founding Trustees of the Aeron Vale Allotments
My interest in gardening was kindled
when I was a child ( that's me in the middle on on a tricycle) - thanks to my
Dadcu (Welsh for Grandfather
- he's on the left in the photo. Mr Burrell on the
right was his next door neighbour). My grandfather was a small man
in stature with (as I always remember) a white shirt a cap and usually an
open waistcoat and rolled up sleeves for most of the summer (the Mr
Fothergill Seed Company's logo reminds me very much of him - except Dadcu was
devoid of a moustache & a lot leaner!). He had a plot on the old Allotments site at Plasgrug
in Aberystwyth. The fond memories of going down to the allotment with him on
summer evenings, during the time I would stay with my Grandparents over the
summer holidays in the 60s, have lingered with me all my life. His plot
represented a special place of total tranquillity and peace where he would
quietly go about his methodical jobs. Often those jobs being nothing more
than a little bit of weeding, watering, trimming and generally pottering
about. This was the place he
taught me everything from how to sharpen a knife to making knots in string,
setting up Runner Bean supports (using 8' sticks of straight hazel that he
would cut himself and then keep meticulously for years in his allotment shed
- just replacing the broken or rotten ones from each season as the years
went by). It was simply heaven on earth for a little boy who shared special
moments with his Dadcu, who had all the time and patience in the world to
show me what to do and how to do it. Amazingly my wife Josie experienced an
identical experience during her childhood with her Granddad on his
allotment n Birkenhead on The Wirral.
Transport for Dadcu was an old black
ex-Lipton's groceries delivery bicycle - like the one on the right - that still had the "Lipton's" sign
filling theplate below the bar. It had a huge metal carrier basket on
the front above a smaller than usual wheel. Stopping was by means of a lever
and rod-linked braking system (like the one seen on the Hovis ads where the
delivery boy pushes it up to the top of the hill and then free-wheels it
down with his legs out wide - that could easily be a picture of me riding my
Dadcu's bike, the first bike I learned to balance on). His alternative
"carrier" was a wooden square handcart (like those used by the old London
barrow boys) with two bicycle wheels on either side and two shafts for
pushing and pulling. The hand cart was pressed into action when greater
loads of yield needed to be carted back to the house - when harvesting was
at it's height - during the periods main-crop potatoes and the like were
ready for lifting. During gluts he sold his surplus toMr. Newman the local greengrocer
around the corner, that I proudly reminded everyone that his veg. were ALL my Dadcu's
When someone quoined the saying
"you're nearer to God's heart in the garden than anywhere else in the world"
he knew what he was talking about - and probably had memories of a similar
Dadcu of his own!
I myself started gardening in 1975
(armed with a copy of Dr D. G. Hessayon's book "The Vegetable Plotter" later
released as "The Vegetable & Herb Expert" and a big dollop of remembered
childhood wisdoms from Dadcu. Both remain my heroes to this day). The garden
was at the rear of the first house I lived in after I first got married when
I went to work in Cwmbran, South Wales. At the time I was working as an engineer for the
GPO in the Telephone Exchange - that was shortly after graduating with a
degree in electronics from the University of Wales Institute of Science &
Technology in Cardiff.
It was then that I discovered that
the greatest stress reliever for anyone who did similar work was in that
little secluded haven called a garden. I lived and worked in south Wales up
until about the mid nineties. By that time I was a Consultant Electronics
Engineer. I've now moved back to my roots and I'm semi retired (due to ill
health). Some years ago I moved to the seaside town of Aberaeron where
amazingly I now have the opportunity to marry my love of gardening with my
technical know-how to
produce this web-site for the Aeron Vale Allotments Trust. I hope it
brings as much satisfaction to
those allotmenteers who visit as I intend to get out of it along with my
latest allotment plot.
My Personal List of
A - Purple Pacific
B - Larac
is my No.1 favourite these days. A purple asparagus, so sweet
they say it can be eaten raw - making it suitable for salads,
etc. I still prefer it cooked! Much breeding work for asparagus
has been done in recent years, especially in New Zealand and
Canada, so the old varieties like 'Connover's Colossal' , have
been superseded. Apparently the newer strains have much smaller quantities of lignin, (the
fibrous material that makes the older green versions stringy) -
these are some of the reasons why Purple Pacific is now my favourite! Larac is a French variety
that's been around a while now - but it's not an ancient
heirloom variety, but it's one that seems hard to find
these days. The spears are early cropping in the
season, it has quite a high yield and a good flavour - it's
listed here due to it's flavour.
Bean - Broad
A - Bunyard's Exhibition
was introduced pre 1835. A long-pod variety producing a large
harvest of deliciously flavoured white seeded beans with up to 9
beans per pod.
Second choice is
Aquadulce Claudia it's another heritage variety from the
1850′s which has received the RHS Award Of Garden Merit (AGM).
Very hardy - good for Autumn sowing. A good "freezer" Third -
Masterpiece Green Longpod is yet
excellent long-pod variety producing long pods that contain up
to 8 green beans. A very high yielding heritage variety dating
from the late 1800′s with a superb flavour. This variety has
also been awarded the RHS (AGM). My three favourites are all
long-pod, why? Because I don't particularly like any veg. with
the tag "dwarf"!
Bean - French
A - Blue Lake
B - Cobra
C - Borlotto Lingua di Fuoco
E - Kinghorn Wax
F - Hunter
Lake A climbing French bean which
is a "pencil-pod" heirloom variety dating from 1885 producing
very high yields of straight, stringless pods that have an
excellent flavour. Can be left to mature producing haricot beans
for drying. Cobra
This variety is a vigorous growing climbing French bean which
provides a huge harvest of long, straight and totally stringless
pods. The beans are very tender and extremely tasty.
Borlotto Lingua di Fuoco An Italian
variety of climbing bean originally grown in the early 1800′s
producing large fabulously coloured pods and beans which are
heavily streaked with red. A vigorous climber the stringless
pods can be harvested young and eaten whole or allowed to mature
to shell for borlotti beans. Kingstone Gold is a
beautiful yellow podded climbing French bean. The plants grow to
6 foot tall the beans are tender and full of flavour. Awarded
the RHS AGM. Kinghorn Wax is a
stringless "wax-pod" with creamy flesh & a fantastic flavour
(not a climber).
Hunter is a traditional "British" flat-pod variety. It's another
"climber", has long straight & wide flat pods. High yielding good
flavour easy to grow, prolific and widely available. I seldom
grow dwarf bush varieties. If I did, my favourite would be Kinghorn Wax.
Bean - Runner
B - Polestar
C - Desiree
It can only be the
one for me (as the breeder of the
AERON PURPLE STAR
runner). I used to have this little
obsession to find the best. Every year, I would grow the best I'd found to
date (Polestar) alongside one
other variety that I hadn't tried before (none of this
"I've grown Scarlet Emperor for 30 years like my father before
me - if it was good enough for him it's good enough for me"
nonsense!). I did this every year, to try & discover the best.
Then I found a cross bred Polestar that had purple pods on one
plant. For years I carefully nurtured the beans from the
original purple podded plant, crossing it with other varieties
to obtain the best results - finally I got the finished product
in 2012. It is a hands down winner and hasn't
been matched by anything to date, it's sweet, succulent, crops
like crazy and it has purple pods that are totally stringless.
It is now coming true every year. I think it has the edge on
everything else I've tried - even though I say so myself. Wonderful cropper, fantastic
taste and totally stringless.
by many who have tried it after requesting seed from me, to be the best flavoured runner ever
A - Boltardy
B - Detroit 2 (Crimson Globe)
not an exciting
choice but it's passed the test of time.
RHS (AGM) holder, it's a tried and
tested variety. The yardstick by which all others are measured.
Globe shaped and resistant to bolting and a near perfect colour
and texture. It's an old favourite and crops
late. Detroit Crimson Globe (or Detroit 2) is another very common variety, it has deep red
flesh, good flavour and crops early. Between them I have lovely
beetroot throughout the season!
note 1 below)
A - White Eye
B - White Star
C - Broccoli Claret
D - Summer Purple
E - Nine Star Perennial
sometimes hard to justify looking after a veg when it takes
nearly a year to crop and be eaten. But in the depths of winter
there is something very special about going into your own veg
patch and seeing the frost on the broccoli and the ground still
being productive. There are two types of sprouting broccoli –
purple and white. The purple are generally bigger plants. For me
the white varieties, whilst being lighter croppers, are
undoubtedly better tasting. Hence the reason they take the first
two slots. Early white sprouting White Eye broccoli is a
very early, uniform variety which produces a prolific crop of
snow white spears. A nice mild tasting one.
White Star is a late variety
(April to May) with creamy/white spears that look good when
mixed with a purple sprouting variety. It is an unusual variety
that is hard to buy & also expensive in supermarkets. It tastes
great. Purple Sprouting (early and late) don't seem to
have many true varieties listed in seed catalogues - it's rather
a generic term that covers many! Broccoli Claret provides
a very good crop from mid April onwards. The spears are extra
large and succulent and can be harvested for up to 4 weeks.
Summer Purple is especially bred for summer cropping - from
late June to October, depending on sowing date from the previous
year. It produces high quality, well-coloured spears with
good heat tolerance. A good modern and versatile variety.
between the two I can harvest from April to October!
Nine Star Perennial
very hardy Heirloom 'everlasting' variety that produces a
central head, rather like a loose cauliflower, surrounded by
many smaller heads. Provided all heads are harvested and it is
not allowed to set seed, it will continue to crop
each spring for several years. It's
included here because it's the only perennial I know of (so not much choice
there). It produces several small cauliflower-like heads every
A - Trafalgar
B - Red Rubine
I've strived to
find a genuinely sweet sprout throughout my gardening life,
Trafalgar is probably the nearest I've got to it so far! It genuinely DOES taste nice -
pity it's an F1 hybrid and has really been developed for
commercial growers who want their sprouts to come all together.
However, Trafalgar will crop from mid Dec. to March the trick is
not to grow them all at once! Second choice is Red Rubine
basically for it's novelty factor, although in fairness it is
quite nice to taste with an unusual nutty flavour. The crops are
a bit light, but it's worth growing for it's beauty and
A - Durham Early
B - Pixie
A - Candissa F1
B - Primo
A - Celtic
B - January King
C - Tundra
A - Savoy King
A - Red Drumhead
Durham Early is
classic spring cabbage variety for picking loose-leafed as
spring greens, or leaving to heart up and produce a large,
handsome pointed head with an outstanding flavour and crisp
texture Pixie is a very early, versatile R.H.S.
award winner & can also be used either as spring greens or as a
hearted cabbage. It is a compact variety with pointed heads of
excellent flavour and colour, but I find Durham Early has a
nicer heart - otherwise Pixie would have the 'A' slot.
Candissa F1 is a
really reliable, sweet tasting cabbage, with a good internal
structure and short core. Can also be spaced closely and grown
as a 'baby' cabbage.
Primo (also called Golden Acre in some quarters)
is my second summer
favourite (it was first for years, and most other people's I think!) It's a ball-headed
variety, is popular and thoroughly reliable. I can't find any
other variety that's miles better, so I've stuck with it.
Celtic has been called the new crown prince of winter
cabbages! It's undoubtedly a splendid,
firm ball-head standing outdoors without spoiling until January
or February. It's short stemmed and very uniform (being one of
those detestable F1s!). Also RHS Award of Garden Merit winner -
so first place.
January King will live
anywhere and must be the hardiest of all (it's name suggests
that)! Again nothing exciting about
just a Savoy type winter cabbage
without the usual wrinkled leaves that won't go AWOL when the
weather gets tough! For a proper Savoy cabbage then my choice is
I find it difficult to get excited about
cabbage to be honest - sorry you cabbage lovers (wife included)!
Finally, a good old red variety that looks good in your coleslaw
or salad - if that's what you like you won't go far wrong with
Red Drumhead it's difficult to find much else to better
note 2 below)
C - Inspiration
Note 4 below)
to be one of the most beautiful vegetables around - a true
product of nature's artwork. In my opinion Veronica is the
finest of the romanescos. It has a mild, sweet flavour, it also
has a melting texture when eaten. When I talk of calabrese I'm quite
entitled to talk about the Romanesco because most
discerning gardeners view it as a calabrese - although it is quite
different to the usual green domed calabrese that you will
encounter in the supermarket - often wrongly labelled as
broccoli! Confused - don't be. Romanesco is delicious with a
flavour that is somewhere between green calabrese and
cauliflower and a sweet nuttiness that is bereft of the slightly
bitter edge cauliflower and other calabrese can have at times.
The undisputed queen of the brassicas in my view!
Corvet is an F1
superb variety which grows to 2 feet (60cm) high. It gives the best of both
worlds as it has a central head and also secondary spears. It's
an ideal garden
vegetable because it crops a little and often over a long
period. Third choice is an RHS (AGM) winner and a newer kid on
Inspiration is a "Tender Stem" variety
of green calabrese with a RHS (AGM). It's called "broccoli"
everywhere - including all the seed
catalogues, but as it grows quickly from March - June & June to
November of the same season then it should not
really be listed as a "broccoli" in the UK. Anyway, it's a taste
sensation! Tasty spears on succulent, edible stems. with
outstanding flavour similar to asparagus for that reason it
gains it's place here.
Capsicum (sweet peppers)
A - Canapé
B - Californian Wonder
is the one to go for - it's mild and very sweet, grows quite well outside
too - if we get the summer! It's quite a
a heavy cropper of large fruit and
is very crisp and
sweet eaten fresh and
because it has a small central core it is ideal for stuffing.
for many years the
standard mix of sweet
peppers, it can be relied upon to give a good crop of "blocky"
almost square fruits which turn from green to red.
The fruits are on the small side
but nice and sweet (not such a
bad thing perhaps, when you see how many are left in the fridge
- half used and later thrown out)!
A - Nantes 3 (Tip-Top)
B - Autumn King
Now I CAN get
excited about carrots for some strange reason (when I can get
them to behave in my clay inclined soil). I love seeing them
grow and love digging them up to eat fresh from the ground -
after wiping them clean on some dew covered grass. To me they, onions, runner beans,
lettuce and peas seem to be the adorners of any veg. plot - they
just look so good! Nantes Tip Top were my favourite carrot of
all time - 6" long cylindrical roots, core-free and deliciously
sweet - says it all really. However the Nantes Tip-Top is not
available by that name anymore :-( It's now called Nantes 3
so there's no panic! 2nd favourite? Autumn King - not as sexy as the
Nantes, but it crops heavy, is quite long (for an
intermediate) and it's extremely hardy and healthy - perfect for
your main crop for later harvesting. No frills or colour
A - Canberra
B - Purple Cape
B - All Year Round
as the name suggests is one of those excellent Australian bred
varieties (now ectremely hard to find). It's a nice
compact cauliflower and can be ready around August, although
technically it's an "Autumn" variety - extremely difficult to
find seeds though. Purple Cape is a lovely coloured
cauli. I could list it for it's novelty value alone - purple
cauli heads are quite a talking topic. However the rich purple heads
are of superfine flavour - ready late March/early April. It's
very hardy (although it originates in South Africa), and can be
sown from March to May. It's listed as a winter variety.
All Year Round
on the other hand is known to everyone and his dog! It seems to
be everywhere you look for seeds! Amazingly it's referred to as
a dwarf variety and yet seed sellers advertise it as "large
headed"! In fact it's a very run of the mill cauli that will
seldom disappoint whilst not setting the cauli world on fire. It
again falls between a true summer and an autumn variety. In
reality the flexibility is up to the grower's sowing time table
and the weather. Hence why someone called it "All Year Round"
perhaps. I've listed it as a "favourite" because I always seem
to land up growing it!
A - Athene
B - Burpless Tasty Green
C - Lemon Cucumber
Athene is an
F1 hybrid. It gives a high yield of
medium-length, slim, bright, dark green fruits with a slightly
bulbous end; it is also slightly ribbed.
Beautiful quality flesh, with lovely dark green skin. And it's
an all female variety so that you don't pull faces when you pick
the wrong one to eat!
Burpless Tasty Green is
an old favourite with me,
it has a crisp outer skin with a sweet juicy centre that crops
early and over a long period. It can be grown outdoors but I
find it performs best under cover without ANY male flowers near
It's easy to grow, heavy cropping &
produces easily digestible, 9ins fruits. As a bonus it's also
Lemon Cucumber reputed
to be more digestible than many other cucumbers, this has a mild
sweet flavour and is very juicy. So it's not just a novelty
choice to have cucumber fruit that looks like lemons. It really
is very nice and can be grown outside as well. And as a bonus,
it's recommended by the RHS to be an excellent attractant and
nectar source for bees and other beneficial insects.
A - Sweet Success
B - Burpee Hybrid
C - Marketmore
is another all female
variety, but I mainly choose it because it has no seeds and is
quite burp-free! By far the sweetest flavour I've found in any
"burpless" cucumber that grows outdoors. Not strictly speaking
an outdoor (ridge) variety, but it copes quite well!
The 12 inch (30cm) long, straight fruits are very mild and sweet
if grown away from other varieties. The Burpee Hybrid
(ii) is an excellent, vigorous and prolific cuc. It
has smooth dark skin and is noted for it's reliability. hence
why it's taken second place! Marketmore (an
improved version of the old King of the Ridge) performs well
both in good and poor seasons. It's not often realised (as
Marketmore tends to be seen as a "run of the mill" cuc.) - it is
an RHS (AGM) holder and has got a lovely flavour. It's a true
ridge type with a trailing habit. So the male flowers have to be
left on to pollinate it. Another indicator of a true outdoor
Check this one out
- you can pick leaves in November, young shoots in early spring,
and Broccoli-like spears around mid Spring. What more can you
ask of a plant?
A - Musselburgh
B - Lyon 2 Prizetaker
Autumn Giant 2
has served me really well over the years. Suggesting a better
variety would be tantamount to a betrayal! It's
an exceptionally hardy variety,
very reliable and heavy cropping. Musselburgh is a
proven performer for me and still takes some beating as a winter
leek. A tender and mild flavoured variety that has green-
blue/grey leaves and a short thick stem. The heirloom variety
Lyon 2 Prizetaker was introduced in the 1880s and is still
going strong on the show bench and in our kitchen at home. It's
is a very tall leek, reaching 30-36 inches in height with thick
solid 8 to 10in (20 - 25cm) pure-white stalks.The long, thick
shanks are extremely cold hardy, staying in good condition in
the garden for months. I've only had limited experience of
Argenta but it seems to perform well from both early and
late sowings. It produced long, thick, mild flavoured leeks
which matured in late autumn it's also remained in good
condition right through until late spring this year - what more
could anyone ask of a leek?!
A - Buttercrunch
B - Webb's Wonderful
C - Little Gem
We like crisp
lettuce in our family Buttercrunch gets 1st spot though -
not because it is the crispest but because it's sweet!. It's an American Butterhead variety
that was developed by Cornell
University . The next
Webb's Wonderful is
known to everyone and is probably the most popular "crisphead"
in the UK. It IS crispy and forms a good heart Little Gem
a small COS variety is there simply for it's sweetness and
size. It's a handy size that we can use just for one meal.
We don't like bitter loose leaved lettuce so these three are
sweet and 'hearted' enough to pass the taste and squeeze test!
Marrow Squash & Pumpkin
can't make a comment on these cucurbit plants - the varieties to chose
from are mind-boggling! I grew a "selection" pack once. Most of
the seeds looked the same (they weren't segregated). Everything
cropped well - but unless you were a cucurbits expert you
wouldn't have a clue what half of them were!
Onion (from seeds)
A - Ailsa Craig
B - Kamal
C - Supasweet
Ailsa Craig was
in 1887 by David Murray, gardener for the Marquis of Ailsa. It's
an old variety but as popular as ever with me - it's my all time
favourite. It's quite large and round and has white flesh and is
mild flavoured. It is not available in "sets" form. If it was,
it would take the place of the others below! It's storage time
is a bit short though. Kamal
is a red skinned onion and it has red flesh. Everyone hoots on
about Red Baron, in my opinion it doesn't come close to Kamal!
A first-class, deliciously flavoured onion that's
perfect for salads with a good strong red colour, both inside
and out. However unlike Red baron it
won't blow your socks off when you come across it in it's raw
form in the salad bowl! It also stores very well.
'Supasweet'™ (Dulcinea) is a very new kid on the block and
relatively untried onion in the UK so new that not many growers
have heard of it yet. It's been hailed as the first "tearless"
onion to peel! The large semi-globe, copper-skinned bulbs
of Supasweet are so sweet and juicy they can be eaten raw
like an apple apparently (I wouldn't go that far!). Downside?
Useless for storing so they have to be eaten as they're
Onion (from sets)
A - Autumn Gold
B - Setton
C - Centurion
Gold has made it to the top of my onions from sets
favourites list. It's a good keeper and will store
through to spring from a September harvest. lovely flavour and
it looks really good. To date it hasn't showed signs of bolting
- but I'm watching out for that! Setton is an improvement
on the popular traditional variety ‘Sturon’. It's more uniform
in shape, gives higher yields and has better storage potential.
It's an RHS (AGM) holder it also has good skin quality and an
excellent flavour. Centurion is another derivative of
Sturon so it's from the same stable as Setton really. Reliable
in poor weather conditions though. Good all-rounder for that
reason. It's one of those that I would turn to if what I was
looking for was unavailable!
Onion - Spring
A - Summer Isle
B - Shimonita
C - White Lisbon
C - Paris Silverskin
Is there any other that comes
close in general popularity to White Lisbon for salads? With the exception of the Japanese Shimonita
perhaps. It's quick growing, silver skinned and is the
epitome of what most people expect from the allotment for summer salad,
however it's not my personal No. 1. Shimonita is BIG and beautifully mild & sweet.
Another mild and very sweet spring onion (which I personally
prefer to White Lisbon or Shimonita is Summer isle. If you want to do a bit of pickling
for later on as well then I'd recommend Paris Silverskin more rounded than White Lisbon and is ideal for
the pickle jar when the bulb is about marble size - the only
reason it's listed, there's not much other choice for
A - White Gem
B - Albion
C - Gladiator
A big plus for me
growing on a clay-type soil is that White Gem is not so
fussy about soil types (being a bit stumpy) it's also
canker resistant. It has a very good flavour and now probably has the
edge on the similar and very popular Offenham. Because I don't
like growing F1 seeds on principle, my second & third choices
are Albion a newish variety that's done well at the
Wiseley trials and last but not least, the well known
Gladiator. Both perform very well but I'm rather stuck with
A - Early Onward
B - Kelvedon Wonder
B - Senator
Kelvedon Wonder ticks all the right boxes for
me as a 1st early. It has good mildew resistance, can be spring
or summer sown, has narrow pointed pods and guess what - it's
pretty sweet as well! However I've found a more robust and reliable variety
is Early Onward and it's just as sweet as KW - so it gets the
"A" position. For a maincrop my choice is Senator, it's
not particularly big but it will crop in abundance and is noted
for it's sweetness. After all what do you grow peas for
1. Pink Fir Apple
1. Pentland Hawk
What a headache this one is! With
over 2,000 varieties you've got to be damned whatever the
choice! 1st Early choice for me - Foremost, It's been around
originally called Sutton's Foremost. It's excellent
flavour and resistance to disintegration when boiling made it an
instant favourite with gardeners, it's average sized yields and
disease resistance meant it never really took off commercially.
It's an RHS (AGM) winner. Second early favourites are
Charlotte - it has beautiful skin
& firm flesh - perfect "new potato" for the salad due to
it's very waxy texture - however long you boil it. The perfect new
potato taste. It's also an RHS (AGM) winner. Next second
early favourite is Kestrel these potatoes have to be one
of the best overall varieties in living memory. Bred by the
great man himself, Jack Dunnett, this potato has taken the
exhibition scene by storm because of its consistent size and
colour.Without doubt one of the best tasting potato varieties
available. with excellent cooking uses and disease resistance.
If in any doubt at all, Kestrel are the potatoes that every
discerning grower should always be growing in tyeir garden! Second Early/ early Maincrop -
Pink Fir Apple - a
heritage variety from the 1850s. NOTHING tastes quite like it or
looks like it for that matter. The only negatives are that it's
a pain to peel (luckily you don't have to do that) and
it's also rather blight prone unfortunately. Maincrop -
Harlequin has pure pedigree because it's a cross between
Pink Fir Apple & Charlotte! It is gorgeous! Finally there's
Picasso a really heavy cropper, it's popular with
allotment growers because it's well suited for that environment and
gives a good return for the space it takes up. It's also quite
nice tasting but not as flavoursome as Harlequin.
Another of the veg plot's "pretty"
residents. This one is bright scarlet with a white shoulder. A
quick grower but more importantly for me it's mild flavoured and
not too aggressive on the taste buds as some other varieties can
be. I'm not a radish lover and I can't find anyone in our family
who is! So although I have this variety as a favourite I haven't
tried many others!
A - Dutch Yellow
B - Red Sunset
A little bit of a generic name
this - the same variety is also offered under other names e.g.
Giant Yellow, Sunset Yellow etc. It's a basic shallot variety. If you're an
exhibitor then you'll probably have your own favourite - this
one is a box standard good garden/ allotment choice.
A - Sigmaleaf
B - Dwarf Green Curled
Sigmaleaf is ideally sown in Autumn as a Winter
variety. I find Spinach taste is much of a muchness among the
different varieties but this one is very slow to bolt so it
earns extra points. Dwarf Green Curled is exactly what it
says on the box! The leaf flavour is as good as any.
A - Ruby
B - Brora
C - Marian
been bred for extra sweetness, it has dark purple-skinned globe
shaped roots with creamy yellow flesh. With a high dry matter
content it provides excellent winter hardiness and it also shows
good resistance to Powdery Mildew. Winner of an RHS A.G.M.
is another super sweet swede, producing high yields of good
quality roots with attractive deep purple skins and very few
blemishes. Specially bred to have a delicious taste and a
relatively low dry matter content that ensures it cooks rapidly
another RHS A.G.M. winner. Marian is
reliable you can depend on it to produce a heavy crop of
splendidly flavoured, finely textured globe roots which are
resistant to both clubroot and mildew. It's medium sized swede that's very
hardy and stores well. It's also quite mild flavoured, so it won't
Cawl - as some
old fashioned swedes could do!
A - Northern Extra Sweet
B - Lark
C - Swift
has excellent cold soil
performance. That's why it's first on my list - clay soil is
usually cold. It's a reliable performer in British summers, it
is especially suited to cooler northern districts. As one of the
earliest maturing of the 'Supersweet' Sweetcorns, I've found
that this variety produces good quality, well filled cobs in my
neck of the woods - where sweetcorn can sometimes be iffy, due
to cold soil conditions and a relatively short maturing period
in cool summers (disadvantage of being on a westerly coast).
Lark is one of a new generation of Tendersweet varieties,
Lark has superior sweetness but just as importantly the kernels
are softer and more digestible than those of Supersweets. The
plants are of medium height and produce good crops of long, high
quality cobs early in the season. Still only second place.
Swift is my third favourite for no reason other than it's a
dwarf variety and I don't like dwarf plants! Apart from it's
lack of stature Swift is an early maturing, extra tender sweet
corn with a high sugar content that gives a deliciously sweet
flavour. It also gives good performance in cold soils.
A - Sungold
B - Ailsa Craig
C - Shirley
If you want REALLY sweet
toms then Sungold is tops. A fantastic cropper with the sweetest
tasting fruit you'll find anywhere. It's all the top gourmet's
choice for flavour but strangely enough you don't see it on
shelves! In my opinion "Ailsa Craig" knocks
spots off the heavy cropping but bland-flavoured "Moneymaker"
that everyone seems so hooked on! Ailsa Craig has a great "old
fashioned" home-grown flavour, it has
medium sized fruit, is brightly coloured and my favourite.
Shirley is my third choice because it's a heavy early cropper,
has good disease resistance and is very tolerant to short cold
Hands down winner in my book.
Outdoor Girl is a heavy early cropper, has excellent flavour and never lets me
down. I haven't found an outdoor variety that even comes close
to it. A much underrated
variety that performs well outside even in poorer years - it
doesn't have an RHS Award of Garden Merit for nothing! Early to
set fruit, 'Outdoor Girl' produces a very worthwhile crop of
billiard ball sized fruits that have an excellent flavour and
are full of juice. For those growing tomatoes outside this is an
absolute 'must grow' variety. I recommend it highly
A - Model White
B - Milan Purple Top
Probably the only all white
maincrop around. Very good flavour.
Milan Purple Top is a very
easy to grow variety, has good flavour is not too big and grows
like a bat out of hell!
Broccoli and calabrese
are two different varieties of the same vegetable. Since they
are of different types, they also have differences which will
distinctly tell you which is which. Broccoli comes in different
types and there is much confusion. Catalogues/ textbooks
and the increasing use of supermarkets and Americanisms in our
everyday life has resulted in many not being able to agree on
the correct term to use. The word BROCCOLI should be
limited to the sprouting varieties that can be cut and come
again (early or late). They are usually white or purple,
harvested in the year AFTER sowing.
Calabrese. One characteristic that
defines a calabrese from a broccoli is the season when they are
planted and harvested. Calabrese typically matures much faster
than broccoli. They are planted early in the year and harvested
in the same year which is usually in the summer or autumn.
Broccoli on the other hand matures more slowly. Broccoli that
has been planted this year should mature the following year
(early or late usually white or purple). Calabrese also looks
physically different from broccoli. Whereas a calabrese produces
dense green heads, broccoli produces looser and smaller white or
purple heads. The head of a calabrese is also larger compared to
that of broccoli. Often the floret has a thick stalk -
supermarkets wrongly market this under the name "broccoli"
which, whilst being technically correct is very misleading. The
Americans call what we know as common broccoli, calabrese and
There is also a
distinct difference in the taste between the two. Calabrese has
a mild flavour with a texture that’s tender similar to that of
asparagus. Broccoli has a slightly bitter taste that’s tougher
than calabrese. Currently, modern breeding allows gardeners to
harvest broccoli almost all throughout the year. This makes the
difference between calabrese and broccoli even more blurred and
hard to recognize. Even supermarkets tag both by either name and
sell both types under both names. That's supermarkets for you!
H. W. Bush famously said "I do not like broccoli and I
haven’t liked it since I was a little kid and my mother made me
eat it. And I’m President of the United States and I’m not going
to eat any more broccoli". What the "genius" was actually
referring to was what we call calabrese shown on the left.
Broccoli on the
other hand is a loose sprouting head coloured white or purple
that flowers the year after you sow it. Shown on the right.
Winter Cauliflower. That is the name that should be
applied to what is often sown and grown as white heading
broccoli. Again a technicality but unless you are aware of the
cross use of terms for these plants you will land up scratching
your head and be wondering if you've grown what you really
wanted to eat.
Romanesco. An old Italian vegetable
variety that's been rediscovered, Romanesco cauliflower or as it
is often called romanesco broccoli, calabrese romanesco or
minaret especially in Italian recipes. It is sometimes called
broccoflower, a name is also applied to green-curded cauliflower
cultivars. It is also known as coral broccoli. Although it is
often referred to as a broccoli, in fact it's a calabrese but
with with a difference. It matures a bit later than the normal
green calabrese, and it's marginally hardier. It can sometimes
stand till spring during a mild winters. It should be treated
like a winter cauliflower. The head is a delicate shade of
almost lime green, and it grows in the most beautiful whorled
form. It has a superb fresh flavour.