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.
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.
An Estonian ridge type cucumber with short, plump, prickly fruits borne on compact bushes. It tolerates poor treatment and cool temperatures, though requires a nitrogen-rich compost to perform well. The juicy flesh has excellent flavour, and is perfect for pickling, but remove the spiky skin first!
Originating from Bangladesh, this pleasantly mild-flavoured, mid-sized cucumber has a triangular cross-section when cut. Remove the male flowers to avoid bitterness in the fruits, which will begin to appear in July from an April sowing. For eating pick fruits when over 15cm long: they grow squat and stout rather than conventionally long and thin. Be sure to let the fruit fully ripen (to yellow or brown) or you won’t tell the difference between this and a normal cucumber, but grown under cover it’s easy, fruitful and relatively trouble free.
These cream seeded beans were brought to the UK from France at the end of WWII. Compact (1.2m) for a climber and thought to be frost resistant and less attractive to slugs than most French beans. Produces beautiful purple flowers followed by dark purple, 12-18cm, plump, flat pods. Guardian Mrs Jane Durston says, “Lovely hot, or blanched and used in salads. Good crisp texture and nutty flavour.”
This bean has been grown, selected and saved in its native Cyprus for many years and was given to our donor by an allotment neighbour whose father lives on a small farm there. With very sparse foliage, it produces white flowers followed by an impressive crop of crisp and slender pencil-type pods full of juicy green beans. It also crops over a long period of time.
A vigorous pea bean with beautiful white flowers followed by lumpy-looking but succulent, tender and stringless pods. Best cooked straight from the plant when young. However, the bicoloured white and brownish-purple dried beans store very well. If you are looking for quality of flavour, not quantity of yield, this is the bean for you. A delicious bean!
Our donor's father inherited these beans in the 1970s from a previous gardener at his place of work. Several Guardians have commented on the drought tolerance of this variety. The crisp, flavoursome pods do not get stringy, even when mature, so the cropping period is longer than for most French beans. When dried the dark brown beans with cream speckles are really tasty too.