HSL choices 2017

Happy midwinter everyone! For the last few weeks I have been deliberately trying to slow down, to spend some time relaxing and recuperating after a busy year. The garden has been doing the same, and so I have been leaving it to its own devices. When I have thought about it, it’s been more in terms of what I might choose to grow next year.

December is the time when the new Heritage Seed Library (HSL) catalogue comes out, and keen gardeners across the country pick some old-fashioned varieties to grow next year. I’ve been a member for quite some time now, but I still look forward to it. Since I don’t have space to grow everything all the time (a lesson that is hard to learn and which I have to keep re-learning!), this year I shared my seed quota with a friend. Alison from the Backyard Larder chose Zapallito de Toscana squash, Green Nutmeg melon, Rainbow Sweet Inca corn (which we enjoyed growing this year), and Nigerian Green callaloo. I chose purple mangetout and a fresh back of achocha seeds. The extra ‘lucky dip’ seeds this year are a pepper called ‘Skinny’. According to the catalogue, it is

a fairly slow growing variety producing small fruit (1-1.5cm long) with pointed ends. The compact plants are perfect for small pots on a windowsill. The peppers are extremely hot and care should be taken when handling, preparing and eating them.
They’ll be too hot for me to handle, so they’ll need to find a new home!

Real Seeds choices 2017

I’ve tried to be circumspect in my seed buying, too. I ordered some seeds from Real Seeds earlier in the year, mostly leafy greens. But I saw a picture of someone’s harvest of ‘Double Red’ sweetcorn this summer, and after the fun we had with rainbow sweetcorn this year we just had to try it. Real Seeds have a minimum order, so I picked up a packet of their rainbow sweetcorn too, and some purslane. I’ll probably sow the purslane next year; I’m not sure whether I’ll leave the rainbow sweetcorn for 2019 or just sow a mixture of colours….

Secret seeds

And I ordered one more packet of seeds from Victoriana Nursery Gardens very recently. They didn’t forget to label it; I have obscured the name of the seeds because it’s for a project Ryan and I want to try this year that I’m keeping under wraps for the time being. This is actually Ryan’s half of it. For mine I have some seeds I collected. It will be something new for me, I’ve never tried to grow either of these species before, and neither of them are commonly cultivated in British gardens.

As some of you will know, for the past few years I have been building a new life. Pretty much every aspect of my life is different now than it was, and better. Ryan and I have been living in this house for three years, and the garden is starting to bed in, although we still need to tackle the extra strip at the front of the house.

At the start of this journey I went away to Kent and did my masters degree in Ethnobotany. Since then life has been a bit chaotic and I have not not able to spend much time delving into the secrets of how people make use of plants, but now life has calmed down and I hope to spend more time reading and researching and poking around in dark corners and writing the kind of posts that I, as a plant nerd, would really like to read.

I don’t feel that this blog is the right place for that kind of writing. The Unconventional Gardener is a more practical kind of place, where I can share what I’m doing in the garden and the ways in which my garden and I can benefit the wider environment. The kinds of posts that I want to write will, I feel, appeal to a different audience. They will take time to research and write, which is why I have taken the decision to host them on Patreon where people can access them for a small payment. I hope this funding model will afford me more time to put into my writing both for the Patreon blog and this blog. If you think you might enjoy the more in-depth ethnobotanical posts, you are very welcome to check out the Patreon blog (there are a few free posts) and for those who become supporters, my deepest thanks.

On my Patreon site I am also planning on blogging the books I want to write, and can’t seem to get around to, starting with one I wrote some years ago. My Garden is Not a Cat Toilet! 101 ways to stop cats wrecking your garden arose from the battles I had with the neighbourhood cats in my old garden. I’m going to start blogging it in the New Year. I suspect that I will also benefit from its advice, as a feral cat has taken to encroaching on my new garden!

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