Choosing vegetable varieties

by Pippa Greenwood

When the weather gets grim, I like to peruse the vegetable seed catalogues, checking the availability of my favourite varieties and finding out what's new.

Pea plants growingIt's that time of year again. When the weather gets grim, I like to peruse the vegetable seed catalogues, checking the availability of my favourite varieties and finding out what's new. I enjoy choosing what vegetables to grow next year, but I try to be restrained - it's very easy to overindulge.

This year I'm writing a list of the types of vegetable I want to grow, and allowing myself a maximum of two varieties of each crop. The problem is, it's hard to keep to this self-imposed rule. I'm always tempted to grow more; after all, early, mid- and late-season varieties are a great way to increase the cropping period of vegetables such as carrots and peas. Also, I love the experimental side of gardening and always want to try those new varieties that are introduced each year. It's good to find space on the plot for some spherical courgettes, as well as cylindrical varieties.

To complicate matters further, my increasingly eloquent and opinionated offspring have clear ideas of their own. My eight year old will only eat cooked carrots if they are a purple variety and they both rule out shop-bought veg for much of the year. At least they're interested, and can be easily co-opted into helping clear further growing space in the garden. Now I just have to pare down that ridiculously long shopping list...

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Gardeners' World Web User 17/11/2008 at 15:59

Ha ha, I feel for your plight! I just got my very own allotment and at first I thought it was huge! but now i think I'll be needing another to fit in all the veg I want to grow!

Gardeners' World Web User 19/11/2008 at 02:30

You can order quite a few Vegetable and seed catalogues completely free from a website called

Gardeners' World Web User 22/11/2008 at 16:44

I've clearly gone about this all the wrong way. We moved house a year ago and dug in a small veg plot earlier this year. We grew courgettes, sweetcorn, tomatoes and carrots. There's no way we can go back to supermarket veg. I then got carried away and bought about 30-40 packets of seeds in a garden store sale. I'm now desperately trying to redesign my corner plot to fit them all in - it's currently grass and borders. I have no idea where to start! All I've managed to do is set up a spreadsheet so I can record which varieties work and taste good!

Gardeners' World Web User 30/11/2008 at 16:11

Over the last few months Pippa has done a series of trials on various vegetables and gives her personal rating on each variety. Does anyone know whether this information (or a summary) is available online so that I can download it and refer to it when I come to select my varieties in future years?

Gardeners' World Web User 01/01/2009 at 16:11

could someone please tell me the best first early potato to grow that has a waxy consistancy to it? I grew some for the first time about four years ago and being the effeciant new gardener discarded the lable, only to forget the name. your help would be appreciated.

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