Seed catalogues

by Adam Pasco

I know what I like, and which varieties have performed well for me in the past, so should I go for those reliable favourites or try something new?

Seed being held between finger and thumbAs seed catalogues drop through my letterbox as predictably as falling autumn leaves, I face a dilemma. Each one is a veritable candy store, packed with sweets and treats to savour. I know what I like, and which varieties have performed well for me in the past, so should I go for those reliable favourites or try something new? 

New varieties are always appealing, but not necessarily better. The one thing you can be sure of is that they'll be a little more expensive, or you'll just get fewer seeds of them in the packet. 

A balanced approach is probably best. Order seeds of those favourites that you know perform well and you won't be disappointed. I'll always try one or two new tomato varieties, but will always grow 'Gardeners' Delight'. Few, if any, can beat it for flavour and as it's an established variety its seeds are also great value. 

Sweetcorn is a different matter. I grow it every year, as my family love it fresh from the garden. But I'm yet to find a variety that combines all the desirable characteristics: good yields, large cobs, tenderness, good flavour and the elusive two cobs per plant. 

However, last year I was sent seeds of a new variety, 'Rising Sun', to trial, and it was magnificent. Plants were tall and vigorous, and cobs of equally massive stature, but only one matured per plant despite the promise of two. That was OK, as the first mouthful convinced me that here was a superb new variety that others will find hard to beat. I'll definitely grow it again. 

The range of grafted crops available for 2010 looks very promising. Grafted plants offer vigour and enhanced disease resistance, and stronger-growing plants produce bigger yields of tasty fruits. I'll come back to grafted crops in a future blog. 

So, what's the answer to my dilemma? Of course you should look wider and delve deeper, or you'll never discover new favourites. Gardens evolve and develop, and our knowledge only grows with new experiences.

Perhaps you have a trusted old favourite that you grow year after year? Or have you recently discovered a fantastic variety that you'd like to share with everyone?

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Talkback: Seed catalogues
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Gardeners' World Web User 03/11/2009 at 13:55

I agree that if a certain seed is reliable and a chosen favourite then continue to use it. As I live in the north pennines I always choose Mussellburgh leek seeds because the plants are hardy and are able to withstand our winter weather, on the other hand by all means try out new variaties. I am trying French dwarf bean Delinel as I saw it grown on Gardeners World and I liked the way the beans did not touch the ground as the plant is quite tall, also I am trying a white flowered runner bean as I am told that birds are not attracted to white flowers so the flower loss is less and the yield is higher.

Gardeners' World Web User 03/11/2009 at 21:13

I wonder if someone could give me some advice I admit to knowing very little about gardening and am planning on creating a rockery area at the top in the corner I have a mountain ash which I do not wish to remove in the same corner and in the winter tne garden gets very little sun could someone suggest the best plants and is the a good idea there is not another area it could go, I refer traditional plants.

Gardeners' World Web User 05/11/2009 at 21:36

I always grow Shirley Tomatoes and Gardeners Delight-you can always depend on them for taste and results. This year tried 2 new varieies-yellow pear shape, very disappointing, and Matina which I will definitely be growing again next year. Had a few failures like squash and beetroot so will give them a miss perhaps but thought I might try Swiss Chard for first time. Just can't resist those seed catalogues and am already plotting next year

Gardeners' World Web User 06/11/2009 at 05:04

how can you tell if old seed that ive keep from last year (well possably 2 or 3 years) is still ok to grow.i know what somebody will say "well sow them and find out" but i need to know befor i sow them. its to late after waiting for the the darlings to show there alive. can anyone help?

Gardeners' World Web User 08/11/2009 at 15:00

try early sunglow variety of sweet corn it give double ears and if plant it at 4 plant per foot you can reap a haul of 128 ear from 4ft x 4ft. As for building a squirrel,badger proof cage over your corn plants. see feb 1996 25 of the mag OG.

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