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The Webmaster's "Favourites" 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 the list).

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 Trust.


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 produce!

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 Favourite Varieties

A - B - C K - L - M O - P R - S - T







A - Purple Pacific

B - Larac

'Pacific Purple' 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

B - Aquadulce Claudia

C - Masterpiece Green Longpod

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 another 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

D - Kingstone Gold

E - Kinghorn Wax

F - Hunter

Blue 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

A - Aeron Purple Star

B - Polestar

C - Desiree

D- Enorma

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. Considered 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)

Boltardy is 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!



(see note 1 below)

A - White Eye

B - White Star

C - Broccoli Claret

D - Summer Purple

E - Nine Star Perennial

 It is 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 is a 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 year.


Brussels Sprouts

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 wow factor!




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 a 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 it - 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 Savoy King 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 it.



(see note 2 below)

A - Veronica (Romanesco)

B - Corvet

C - Inspiration

Veronica is a Romanesco calabrese (see Note 4 below) it has 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 Hybrid. A 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 the block. 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

Canapé 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. Californian Wonder 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 gimmicks!


A - Canberra

B - Purple Cape

B - All Year Round

Canberra 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!


Cucumber (Greenhouse)

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! It's easy to grow, heavy cropping & produces easily digestible, 9ins fruits. As a bonus it's also Mildew resistant.  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.

Cucumber (Outdoor)

A - Sweet Success

B - Burpee Hybrid

C - Marketmore

Sweet Success 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 ridge variety.



Pentland Brig

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

C - Autumn Giant 2 Argenta

Musselburgh 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

You Decide!

 I really 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 introduced 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 harvested.

Onion (from sets)

A - Autumn Gold

B - Setton

C - Centurion

 Autumn 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 "silver-skin" pickles!



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 White Gem.



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 except sweetness?



 (1st Early)

1. Foremost


2nd early)

1. Charlotte

2. Kestrel


(Early main-crop)

1. Pink Fir Apple



1. Pentland Hawk

2. Harlequin

2. Picasso

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 since 1954 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

Ruby has 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. Brora 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 overpower your Cawl - as some old fashioned swedes could do!


Sweet Corn

A - Northern Extra Sweet

B - Lark

C - Swift

 Northern Extra Sweet 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.


Tomato (Greenhouse)

A - Sungold

B - Ailsa Craig

C - Shirley

If you want REALLY sweet orange-yellow "cherry" 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 many shop 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 spells.


Tomato (Outdoor)

Outdoor Girl

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!


1. Broccoli. 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.

2. 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 visa versa.

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!

George 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.


3. 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.


4. 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.