Journalist, professional gardener and politician Xenia Field died, aged 103, in 1998; this bean is without doubt a tribute to a most fascinating woman. Once available from Unwins, who said it was high yielding, disease resistant and performed well in British conditions. White flowers are followed by straight, green pods that are best picked when young and stringless. Also freezes well.
This bean produces pale cream and white flowers followed by small, flat, green pods that become blotched red when mature. Eat fresh when young when the pods are really tasty, or allow to dry and use the tan mottled seeds in soups and stews. Prefers a later sowing, is frost tolerant, and matures quickly.
Although originally from India this has been grown by our donor on the St Mary’s Allotments in Leamington Spa – a multicultural hotch-potch of vegetable growing. It is the most productive of the Indian mustards trialled in our Sowing New Seeds project, producing large, mild-flavoured leaves.
(Brassica oleracea) Our donor originally acquired seed of this variety in about 1957. Thought to have originated in Tiverton, Devon, it was then grown at Dipwell Farm, Ashburton. She says, “The plants are immensely strong and resilient. The leaves are a soft green with mauve veins and stalks. The shoots are delicious raw or cooked and it freezes well.”
(Brassica oleracea) An American heirloom from the southern state of Georgia that dates back to before 1880 and shows good resistance to both heat and cold. A prolific producer of huge, dark green leaves with white veins, still exactly as described in the 1944 Burpee's Seed Catalogue. Tasty and full of flavour, Seed Guardian Adam Alexander enjoys them Southern style, steamed and eaten with a dash of vinegar.
(Brassica oleracea) Our donor's family had grown this kale for many years. Known as ‘Tunley Greens’, it had originally come from his wife’s grandfather who obtained the seeds in Tunley, Somerset in around 1910. Known in Europe for centuries, it was often grown in cottage and farm gardens. Valued for its hardiness and ability to provide tasty, fresh greens in the depth of winter. Its frilly grey-green leaves have a lovely purple tinge.
(Brassica napus) Hungry Gap is the gardeners' name for the period in spring when there is little or no fresh produce available from garden or allotment. This hardy variety, so named because it crops during this period, was introduced by Carter’s in 1932. The steel-blue, wavy-edged leaves develop a red and purple hue in colder weather and are tender and mild-flavoured. Harvest from late autumn until April.
(Brassica oleracea) An old Danish variety whose name simply means “eat the leaves”. A particularly tall kale reaching a magnificent 2m in height, so may require staking. The leaves are broad and glaucous, and are slightly peppery to taste. If picked young the leaves are delicious in salads.
(Brassica oleracea) Our donor's family has grown this variety for several generations and found it to be “the nicest tasting of all kales.” Grown extensively before WWII, but seems to have disappeared soon after. Large and prolific; it is both hardy and resilient to pests and diseases. Delicious too, with a slightly nutty flavour.
Also known as the stem turnip, kohl rabi is grown for its enlarged, spherical stem. Dating back to the 19th century this variety has green skin and crisp white flesh. It can be used raw and grated in salads, or cubed and steamed if picked young, when the flesh is at its sweetest.