With Christmas out of the way, it’s time to start planning next year’s garden, and (perhaps) sow some seeds. I’m going to start with some salad; whilst it’s a bit bonkers that we buy in salad from Spain, it’s utterly ludicrous that demand is going to be met by flying in salad from the USA for the first few weeks of 2017.
Anyway, a preview of the new Marshalls spring 2017 seed/plant catalogue landed in my inbox yesterday morning, so I thought it might be fun to see what’s new and exciting from them for next year. (For the record, I don’t have any commercial affiliation with Marshalls to declare, other than that they’ve sent me a couple of plants to review over the last two years. The images in this post are copyright Marshalls.)
First up, Marshalls have oca (Oxalis tubersoa) for next year, a nameless golden/pink variety. £6.99 for 5 tubers.
I don’t know what the Guild of Oca Breeders would say about eating the flowers, although it’s true that your oca won’t set seed unless you have two compatible varieties. I know they would say that, despite Marshall’s assertions, you’ll get better yields from your oca if you grow them in good soil.
And if you’ve developed a taste for the Andes, then you can also buy Quinoa seed from Marshalls this year. Their variety is ‘Rainbow Blend’, and you’ll get 450 seeds in your £2.45 packet. Interestingly, they make no mention of the need to remove the saponins from quinoa before you cook it. Perhaps they’ve developed a saponin-free variety (but I doubt it). If you need them, Real Seeds have super-detailed quinoa harvest instructions, and suggest that overnight soaking is the the way to go. They also grow and sell two different quinoa varieties, and have done so for years.
The quest for a soya bean that’s productive in our climate continues, and Marshalls are banking on Edamame ‘Summer Shell’ this year – apparently it has done well in trials. £3.95 gets you a packet of 80 seeds, or you can pre-order a dozen plants for £8.49, to be delivered late May.
You’ll have an easier time of it growing dwarf French Beans ‘Yin Yang’, which are beautiful with their black and white colouring. They’re also known as Orca beans, for obvious reasons. Equally tasty eaten fresh, and a gorgeous dried bean to see you through the winter. 80 seeds, £3.25.
If you’re pushed for space, then ‘Half Pint’ is a fun pea to grow – it doesn’t get much more than 30cm tall. I have grown these bushy little peas in the past, in a windowbox. They’re hardy down to -6°, and 100 seeds from Marshalls will set you back £3.99.
Cucamelons (Mexican gherkins, mouse melons, Melothria scabra) are dividing British gardeners. Some think they’re wonderful, others think they’re nasty, sour things with tough skins. You’ll have to grow them if you want to try them yourself! But they’re increasingly available in seed catalogues, and Marshalls are charging £2.45 for 20 seeds.
I’m trying to figure out where in the garden I can put some hanging baskets to grow Blackberry ‘Black Cascade’, the thornless, trailing blackberry that was first available last year. Marshalls are offering 1 plant for £9.99 and 3 for £19.98. (Thompson & Morgan have just announced that they’ve got a hanging basket raspberry as well this year; it’s called ‘Ruby Falls’, and is £12.99 a plant. They’re also doing a hanging basket berry collection, with one ‘Black Cascade’ and one ‘Ruby Falls’ for £17.99.)
And lastly, there’s Highland Burgundy potatoes, a heritage variety that’s making a bit of a comeback. It’s red flesh stays that colour if you steam your spuds; I suspect it will fade to light pink for mash or chips, but it’s the flavour that counts 😉 £4.99 for a 1kg pack.
I popped into the local garden centre yesterday, and they were trying to figure out how to make space to display the great piles of seed potatoes that had just been delivered, so it’s definitely time to start planning your spuds for this year! Start collecting egg boxes, and clearing the windowsills, so you’re prepped for chitting when the time comes!
Have you had a look at the Marshalls catalogue yet? What has caught your eye?
This blog post was written by Emma Cooper and was published on The Unconventional Gardener website. If you're reading it elsewhere you may want to navigate away from plagiarised content.