Ah, that little packet hitting the floor under the letterbox. You can't beat it for a thrill of pleasure, can you? My seeds from Garden Organic's Heritage Seed Library arrived on Friday. The funny thing is that I know what I ordered, but still tingle with the excitement of looking through them.
Reading the HSL catalogue always takes me ages as the descriptions are full of anecdote and comment. Do I want a long-rooted beetroot, "sweet and flavoursome" described by Vilmorin-Andrieux in 1885, or do I fancy the 1992 Ukrainian - tender, easy to peel.
I went for the former, Long Blood Red, not just for the name but for the promise that it stands well and is slow to go woody. As I tend to just leave beetroot in the ground until needed, I reckon that's a safer bet.
Other choices were:
Tomato Wladek, a beefsteak variety. I love the seeds that have a story to ponder. These were donated by the neighbour of a Polish man who arrived in the UK after WW2. Fleeing the Russian occupation, one presumes.
Lettuce Bunyard's Matchless, described as "a real lettuce-lovers' lettuce". I'm guessing it has a bit more bite and texture to it.
Pea Herbie's Purple Podded - new to HSL this year. Another seed that's been passed through neighbours and family for decades, this time in Northumberland, so I'm expecting them to stand up to the vagaries of the weather.
Onion Cipolla Bianca Agostana - my first attempt at growing onions from seed. All I know is that they should be big, white, thin-skinned and not make my eyes run when slicing. I hope to be more successful with seeds than I was with sets, which gave me something the size of a shallot.
Dwarf French Bean Deuil Fin Precoce - ah, a substitution. My original choice, Bountiful, dating from the 1890s, must have run out by the time my order arrived. You can choose what you'd prefer to receive if your first choice has run out, but as I've rarely received a substitution, I usually just indicate that any would be welcome. This sounds interesting - very old French variety, particularly early. Only caveat seems to be they're best eaten young, which means I must remember to look for them regularly!
Runner Bean David Chappell - hurrah, a runner bean. I didn't have room to order one (six packets is the limit) and this is the Lucky Dip choice - HSL always send you one unless you say no. If you know anything about David Chappell, let me know. Lucky Dip choices usually feature in the current catalogue, but this one doesn't. I'll see if I can find a past catalogue with it in.
If you're a member of HSL, there's still time to order, as the deadline is 27th February. If you don't belong to HSL, then if you join now (you can reach the catalogue through that link too) I suspect you'd still be in time to receive some seeds for this year. For a bit more information, I wrote more here.
If you've ordered seeds, do post a comment below to say what you're going to grow this year.