The Cottage Smallholder

stumbling self sufficiency in a small space

Choosing the seeds for 2009

Photo: vegetable seeds

Photo: vegetable seeds

I woke up a couple of nights ago with the name “White Lady” on my lips. I lay quite still, wondering where the words had come from. A few minutes later I remembered that Maurice had recommended “White Lady”  as the best runner bean seed available in the UK.

Jalopy and I were loitering in with intent in Fordham yesterday, visiting the organic butcher and the Secret Garden stand. Just opposite this wonderful resource there is a small branch of Scotsdale’s in the Fordham High Street. A good garden centre which is a mini version of the Cambridge outlet.

I decided to buy my 2009 seed from there. They sell Unwins seeds that are produced in the opposite end of our county. In fact, Newmarket is a great seed capital. This is the home of Mr Fothergill’s, D.T.Brown’s, Johnson’s (Mr Fothergill’s) and the budget Country Value seeds (also Mr Fothergill’s).

I’ve experimented with different manufacturers’ seeds over the past few years and now go for the high end brands because I discovered that they perform so much better, with stronger plants and better yields. They might seem exorbitantly priced at the outset but, if you match this against the value of the yield, the cost of the seed is peanuts. I would recommend Unwins, D.T. Browns, Mr Fothergill’s and Johnson’s if you live in this area of the UK.

I found the White Lady runner bean seeds within seconds and then I happily browsed. This is dangerous. Suddenly the kitchen garden seems vast and able to foster loads of different varieties of vegetables. Danny had put in a request for Pack Choi. I want to try cauliflower this year along with a good range of tomatoes and peppers (chilli and Romano). And we can’t forget the salad leaves, lettuce, greenhouse cucumbers, squash and spinach beet. A summer wouldn’t be a summer without courgettes. I was tempted by a new (to me) vegetable: Asparagus Pea. Apparently the young pods taste just like a mix of asparagus and pea. They’re dwarf plants so could be poked into the herbaceous border if we have no space left.

Seeds are so beguiling. The promise of a bountiful future. Just what we need in these troubled times. I imagine myself out with a machete at harvesting time.

In the end we’ve spent just under £30 on seeds, seed potatoes and shallot sets this weekend. But expect at least a £300 return in fresh vegetable savings.  The runner beans alone feed us for a good three to four months (seeds £3.99). And they freeze well. These are so easy to grow. They can even be grown in a tub or mega pot so why not give them a go this summer? Water every morning and evening and feed generously every week and you could be enjoying fresh runner beans for endless weeks.

Read and digest the seed packet tips. These are written by experts. If they work you will be back next year for more. The tips are generally the minimum directions that you need for a good harvest.

  Leave a reply


  1. Fiona Nevile

    Hello Heidi

    I wish you the very best of luck with your seeds!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

HTML tags are not allowed.

2,237,279 Spambots Blocked by Simple Comments

Copyright © 2006-2012 Cottage Smallholder      Our Privacy Policy      Advertise on Cottage Smallholder