Tendrils: Black Tailed Prairie Dogs chatting
The 2017 Veg Crisis was a hot topic of conversation amongst the Black Tailed Prairie Dogs at Cotswold Wildlife Park

Hello, and welcome to Tendrils! Gardeners across the UK are champing at the bit to start gardening, trying to judge the earliest possible date they can start sowing seeds and have a chance the plants will survive. Windowsills are groaning under the weight of chitting seed potatoes (my slightly impulsive choices are now chitting in my office.

It’s seed swap and potato day season, and gardeners are plotting and planning and purchasing with abandon. Noel Kingsbury isn’t enamoured of seed swaps. In Would you trust a seed swap? he extols the virtues of the wide range of commercially produced vegetable seeds – trustworthy packets, properly created and stored. He prefers modern varieties for their reliability, and only commercial companies are bastions of genetic purity, it would seem.

I don’t disagree with him 100%, but as I have said in a comment on his blog (which, as I type, has yet to be moderated), he’s forgetting that one of the perks of growing your own is being rewarded with better flavour (which we were discussing, in terms of tomatoes in Tendrils last week). He’s also assuming everyone can afford to buy a gardenful of commercial seed packets every year, which we know is (unfortunately) not the case. And he bemoans the lack of ornamental varieties in seed swaps, since he has noticed a decline in the number of commercial ornamental varieties on offer. But apparently those of us who enjoy a good seed swap are anti-capitalist dreamers, so what would I know? 😉

Meanwhile, the New York Times has published a delightful love letter to heirloom seeds which goes a long way towards explaining the romance that is simply lacking in the modern commercial seed world.

Which is not to say that I am against modern varieties and plant breeding efforts – you know that I’m not! In point of fact I succumbed to a new variety this morning:

Suttons Exclusive Dwarf Mulberry

‘Charlotte Russe’ is Suttons’ new dwarf mulberry. Mulberry trees are normally large, and notoriously slow growing. I have one in the garden, somewhere. This compact variety will only reach a height of about 1.5m. “It’s self-pollinating, fully hardy and fruits on both old and new wood, meaning you can be picking mulberries within the first year… and unlike other varieties that only produce fruit over a 3-week period towards the end of summer, Charlotte Russe produces berries from May right through until September!”

It sounds like an ideal addition to my Small Harvest garden, so I have ordered myself one. (And I saved myself 10% using the code S16GARDEN.)

Black Tailed Prairie Dog eating salad
A Prairie Dog demonstrates one solution to the Veg Crisis – eating seasonally

Druid Life explains how green hearts show the love, and how we can use them to raise awareness and create momentum around the issues of climate change and other environmental problems.

The BBC have been exploring which foods can improve your gut bacteria. And while veg containing inulin (such as Jerusalem artichokes) are better than commercial prebiotic products, it seems that home-fermented foods are your best bet.

If you’re not that into healthy eating, or you had a rough week, then The Botanist has a lovely article on Mint – the drinkers herb.

And I think we can all be grateful that planters solve Paris’ pee problem (talking about the city, not the person).

For something a little more high-brow (perhaps over Sunday brunch?) check out Be Like a BHL Librarian and Edit Wikipedia for #1Lib1Ref from the Biodiversity Heritage Library, or wonder at the fact that the current lettuce shortage has been solved in space, with new crop of Chinese cabbage on the go.

It clearly has been a wondrous week in the wonderful world of plants! Tune in next week for the next exiting edition of Tendrils. In the meantime, isn’t is about time you fed the compost heap?

Black Tailed Prairie Dog nesting

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