Page 38 - Simply Vegetables Winter 2020/21
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                                What’s New for 2021?
 In this article we have invited David Thornton, our former General Secretary and now joint owner of Select Seeds with his wife Jill, to review what’s new for 2021.
When it became evident in early spring last year there wouldn’t be any “physical” shows, open days, meetings or similar events we decided to showcase our new and newer existing varieties using social media. As with many good intentions this only partially happened because you just get caught up with the growing and harvesting and thinking of what “might have been”
had there been shows to go to. Speaking
to many customers and NVS members last year the quality of produce generally seemed very high and we would have enjoyed some excellent exhibitions. Let’s hope this year we will get back to the old normal.
Last season did provide an opportunity to do some trials and testing of different ideas as well as growing a whole batch of new varieties. For example, I tried in-media addition of fungicide (a new commercial practise) to try and prevent potato common scab. I also tried growing cordon peas and tomatoes from side-shoots rather than the main stem. Timing of cauliflower plantings for certain “cancelled” show dates, different mixes for the long carrots and parsnips and so on. Maybe the results of this hard work are an article for another day!
I am often asked where we get the ideas from for the new varieties that appear in our catalogue and website. The answer is from the market place, from customers, from the show bench and from going to trade open- days. Those conversations largely took place before the pandemic, allowing us to test and trial the potential new material last year, but my concern is for next year, i.e. 2021-22 because of the shutdown last season.
Many of our customers like to try growing something new each season. I like to be in the position of having grown new varieties first so at least I can speak with a little authority about it if they contact us for advice. Our large “Select Seeds” plot allows us to
do just that as well as being home to my
own growing for showing efforts. The plot
is in the corner of a very large field grazed
by cattle and cut for silage three times a
year and has a very good stock fence all round it! There is a 30x15 feet polytunnel, a 12x8 feet glasshouse and around 8 raised beds with walkways between. The plot is 800 feet above sea level, has a westerly sloping aspect and we get a lot of weather, particularly wind and 65” rainfall a year. So, all
Cauliflower Oviedo-F1
in all, I think the site provides a good testing ground for the new and existing varieties of vegetables (and me!). Here is our selection of new and newer varieties:
• Cauliflower OVIEDO F1: this one is quick, it matures in approximately 69 days from planting out, ideal for June/ July harvest from a March sowing, well protected heads, lovely deep white florets.
• Cauliflower SV5818AC: still a coded variety from Seminis, but did appear on the show bench briefly in 2019. Matures in 80-85 days from planting out, large framed and is sure to win prizes.
• Savoy Cabbage RIGOLETTO F1: heavily indented leaves, very hardy, maturing from December to March and shows excellent tolerance to Alternaria.
• Broccoli KAIBROC F1: brand new multi-heading tender sweet stem broccoli that has the advantage of multiple harvest over a long period.
• Brussels Sprout OLAF F1: brand new disease resistant hybrid for December- January harvest with excellent internal structure and lovely sweet flavour.
• Purple Sprouting Broccoli PURPLE RAIN F1: an outstanding performer last season producing a very high yield of dark purple shoots from mid- October for around 2 months.
• Pea STYLE: this is an interesting pea that not only gives a high yield of well-filled pods, but also has masses of edible tendrils eaten as “pea shoots”. Two crops in one!
• Dwarf French Bean STANLEY:
this brand-new round podded introduction joins our selection of flat pods Hawkesbury Wonder and The Prince. It grew so well last season and was harvested in around 9 weeks from sowing outdoors and seven weeks in the polytunnel.
• Spinach ARCADIA F1: another brand new commercial semi-savoy variety that was harvested in just over 4 weeks from sowing last season outside. Unlike other spinach it can be grown in succession all season long.
• Lettuce COVENTRY: new to the market and our first offering of Little Gem type lettuce. The seed is pelleted making it easier to sow in succession all season long under- cover and outside.
Tomato Sweetie
Purple sprouting Purple Rain F1
• Sweetcorn GOLDCREST F1: this selection joins our Lark F1 but has the advantage of filling the cobs to the very end and combines the best attributes of the Xtra tender and super-sweet types.
• Tomato SWEETIE: grow in the greenhouse or polytunnel cordon style for an abundance of grape sized, very flavoursome red fruit.
These varieties are all new for 2021, but
of course we also grow our newer existing selections to make sure they continue
to perform well under different seasonal conditions. The best performers last season were our own selection of Kelsae exhibition onions where I managed to get a few bulbs of 8lbs in the polytunnel and 5lbs outside, which were my best onions ever! For the 250g class and an excellent kitchen onion was our new introduction last year SAFRANE F1. It showed very good uniformity and
looks to be an excellent storing onion. I also should mention our new tomato CULINA
F1 from last year, which in my opinion is
the best tasting exhibition tomato currently available. I was picking fruit from my cold polytunnel well into November last year and there was no sign of yellow calyx, which
can be a problem with some varieties. We submitted this variety for an RHS Award of Garden Merit last year, but unfortunately their trials were a victim of the pandemic.
In the interests of balance in this article I also grew two other varieties of cauliflower, a cabbage and another new round tomato in my polytunnel. Unfortunately, they didn’t quite hit the mark we were looking for and they won’t be listed in the catalogue or website. It wouldn’t be fair to mention their names in case other seed suppliers are listing them.
Finally, I was very kindly sent a couple of heritage varieties of a pea and broad bean from two customers, which I grew on and was extremely impressed. The pea is an old Devon variety called TURNERS SPRING that has definite show potential, which I entered in the NVS Virtual Show last year and came second. Congratulations by the way to
all those involved with the virtual show, I thought it was extremely well organised. The broad bean called RELON was a potential commercial variety from the 1980’s I believe, which never made it because the pods
were too long! It also has massive national exhibition potential and is already well known in Scotland. We have limited quantities of seed of both if anyone is interested.
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