This is a prolific and rampant climber reaching 3-4m, so will need supporting with trellis or a frame. The small, cucumber-like fruits have a fresh flavour, a cross between a minty cucumber and a green pepper. Eat raw or in stir fries when young; when mature they have tougher skins so stuff with meat, fish or cheese, and then bake or make an achocha curry. Can also be used pickled or as a base for chutney. The flowers are also attractive to pollinating insects.
One of a series of innovative breeding lines from the former National Vegetable Research Station at Wellesbourne (now Warwick HRI, part of Warwick University), it remained a stalwart variety amongst gardeners for many years. An early, prolific and fast-growing round-rooted type; Lawrence Hills states in The Vegetable Finder that it matures in about 10 weeks. Excellent sweet flavour; both juicy and crunchy when young.
Our donor obtained the seeds when holidaying in Crete. Growing to around 60-75cm in height his plants produced around 1kg of beans from a 1.25m x 1.25m plot, he says, and blackfly appeared not to be interested in the plants. Don't expect huge pods: four beans in each is normal, but they are produced in abundance. The tasty beans are perfect eaten raw, as they do in Greece.
Donated by one of our volunteer guides at Ryton, who originally obtained the seed from one of his old friends, George Potts. The seed was handed down to Mr Potts by his father who had grown them since the early 20th century in Manchester. They seem to be resistant to pests and disease and produce a heavy crop of delicious beans.
An ex-commercial variety developed by Arthur White from the small hamlet of Arkport, New York State in 1941. It is thought to have been named after Catskill Park, a forested and mountainous region in New York State which fringes Arkport. Still very popular in the USA, this robust heritage variety grows to around 50-75cm in height and produces richly flavoured sprouts around 5cm in diameter. Great for eating fresh or for freezing.
Our donor acquired these seeds from a guest speaker at his local gardening club. The speaker, Mr Lockwood, was in his 80s and has given up his allotment after years of saving his own seed. Sow in March under glass for an August/September harvest. Bradford Bomb is a compact, white cabbage and great for showing. As Mr Lockwood was a judge at local horticultural shows we should probably take his word for it!
A very large heirloom variety developed by an unknown Irish allotment holder, who saved seeds from his largest specimen and shared them with his allotment neighbours. Spring sown for late summer/autumn use, it is a vigorous grower, producing large firm heads that stand well until late autumn/early winter. Delicious raw, very crunchy with a spicy flavour. Retains both its texture and flavour when cooked. One HSL member commented, “The best autumn cabbage I have grown in 60 years of cultivating.”
Named after the locality in which it is thought to have originated, Silsden, near Keighley, Yorkshire. Said to have been bred by Jonnie Watson, an old gardener from the town; our donor acquired it in 1980 from “a chap” who had grown it for 12 years. Only one of his seeds germinated, but since then seeds of the variety have been saved and shared around the whole district! Apparently all of the horticultural show growers wanted it; our donor has won first prize with his specimens. Produces small heads with distinctive white-veined, blue-green leaves.