Sunday, 30 March 2014

Gilfeather Turnip

I'm very glad to have grown these last season, seeds were given to me by a kind member of Allotments4all forum. The name Gilfeather Turnip is a little misleading as they are not really a turnip but a swede, although those in the North may say differently. My experience is they grew well in the UK, overwintering easily although they have not had to contend with very cold weather as it has been such a mild winter. Taste is good and they are a pleasure to eat.

Difficult as it was, I've kept the best sized and looking roots in their bed, only pulling the not so good ones to eat. My aim is to let these remaining swedes flower and set seed. I'll update the blog as they progress.

Overwintered Gilfeather Turnip, showing new growth

Saturday, 22 March 2014

Dreaming of Long Multi Coloured Fingerling potatoes

Well that's the hope!
This year I'm planning on growing some potato varieties (several I've bred, the others are bought in) that I hope, with a bit of cross pollination and lots of luck will set some True Potato Seed this summer.

True Potato Seed or TPS for short is the actual seed from the little fruits some potatoes make following on from fertilized flowers. These are poisonous, so don't eat them! TPS are not the actual 'seed potatoes' which are the more normal way of buying potatoes.
Potato flowers

Seed pods (TPS) forming

Seeds from inside a potato fruit

I love waxy potatoes, I love coloured potatoes and I love long shaped potatoes. So you might be able to see where I'm going on this one!

These are the varieties I've chosen to grow for this little project;

Snooki and Hot Dog

Snooki and Hot Dog are home bred varieties. Grown from True Potato Seed from a cross I made the previous year. I was delighted with how they did and taste was great, both had lovely long waxy tubers. They were so good hot with a little bit of butter or in a salad. 

Snooki and Hot Dog

Inky Squid was a bit of a surprise, for one the beautiful dark skin and flesh colour and then the taste and texture - they were lovely.

Inky Squid Blue Fingerling

Inky Squid Blue Fingerling

I bought Red Emmalie and Violetta as their description sounded super, both a coloured variety, producing long shaped tubers. Violetta good as a salad variety, Red Emmalie is good for boiling. Information on the British Potato Variety Database indicates they both should readily set TPS

Red Emmalie and Violetta

Inky Squid, Snooki and Hot Dog, shoots are starting
to sprout.

Here they all are together, I'm quite excited at the prospect of planting them all. Avoiding Late Blight I think will be the biggest challenge, as regrettably we seem to be in a hot spot for it here. 

Starting at the top left hand side and running clockwise, Red Emmalie,
Violetta, Inky Squid, Snooki and Hot Dog.

Tuesday, 11 March 2014

Crown Peas

I've rather fallen for this type of pea, perhaps partly because they seem to be somewhat of a rarity, with only very few varieties available worldwide. The variety most people (including me) may have come across is Salmon Flowered, which have beautifully delicate and unusually coloured pink flowers.

Salmon Flowered Pea

Although they remain a rarity in the UK, this variety has been helped along by the Heritage Seed Library and luckily seed has been saved and shared to help keep this variety alive.

Salmon flowered peas grow to about 5 foot or so, the stems are fasciated making them look quite different from other peas. They flower in a cluster and pretty much altogether, rather than the more extended flowering you get with most peas. This is lovely to look at in the garden, but results in crops being given over a shorter period.

Intrigued by Crown peas, I now have a small crown pea breeding project in progress and my hope is to further select several types of Crown peas this year. I'd like to have white, pink and salmon flowered types with preferable examples of both round and wrinkly type seeds too!

Seeds to be sown this year were selected last season from the vines that most resembled 'Crown type' peas. Some of the plants were tagged at flowering for bloom colour and the seeds were then divided at harvest.

Crown Pea Seeds

Starting on the left and going clockwise; seeds selected from purple flowers, mixed coloured flowers and lastly white flowers. I also have a selection of seeds from the remainder of plants that didn't appear to have have any or much indications of fasciation which, space allowing, I'll grow a selection this year too. I'm looking for a large seeded wrinkly salmon flowered pea, but that's another story!

Another potentially White flowered Crown type pea came my way whilst taking part in a Seed Circle last year, the variety shared  is called Mummy Peas. These were thought to be a white flowering Crown pea although it now seems possible they are a salmon flowered one.

I've added some more pictures of this years Crown peas at  Growing Food Saving Seeds