What grows well for us! Which vegetable seed varieties are reliable?

Here is a discussion of some of our favourite vegetable seed varieties. This is not a definitive list, but if you are looking for reliable croppers (e.g. as a new plotholder) they are a great starting point!

‘Boltardy’ always reliable, ‘red ace’ prettier but no better tasting. In addition, ‘Cylindri’ produces decent tasting elongated roots that cut into slices easily!

Broad bean
‘Jubilee Hysor’ whitish bean, strong grower pick young for taste. This has quite a strong flavour.For later crop ‘Scorpio’ gives large crop of small beans.

French Beans
Climbing Cobra can’t be beaten for greenbean. Dwarf bean’ Deliniel’ but it can be awkward if sown too early. ‘Maxi’ is good even if it does look like it doesn’t grow very well. I.

Runner Bean
‘Red Rum’ or ‘Aintree’ are very reliable to set in dry weather. Runner bean ‘Enorma’ has set well in wet weather also.  For a white flowered variety ‘White Lady’.

Other Beans
‘Spagna Bianco’ is about as similar to a ‘butter bean’ as you can grow here. It does very well, but you need to start the plants quite early with protection. It is actually a runner bean, but let the seeds set and dry out on the plant. In addition, we grow many heritage beans for drying – favourites include ‘Hopi black’ (dwarf) and coco bicolour (climbing).

For a very sweet variety ‘Amsterdam forcing’, For summer ‘Nigel’. For long carrots which are winter hardy ‘St Valery’. For stump winter hardy ‘Berlicum’ type (zino or berjo). The ‘Early Nantes’ varieties are quite reliable.  ‘Rainbow F1’ has produced large roots which seemed to have some resistance to carrot fly; a nice range of colours. ‘Flyaway’ (or similar) that are marketed for carrot fly resistance still get the fly and also don’t have the best flavour. Whatever varieties you grow cover with enviromesh or similar if you want a crop at all!

For club root resistance ‘kilaxy’ or ‘kilaton’ but they are very mild cabbages and really only fit for coleslaw. Cabbages are very much to taste and because seed is relative cheap buy small packets of different varieties and try them. ‘Greyhound’ is a reliable small pointed cabbage that is very sweet tasting (summer), but it does get club root.

Calabrese (summer green broccoli)
‘Kabuki’ can’t be beaten for fast growing and sweet tasting variety. Cut main head and side shoots grow for second crop. Seems to tolerate club root as well. ‘Belstar’ is a good follow on.

Again for club root resistance ‘Clapton’ which is very good tasting and reliable. ‘All Year Round’, although not the whitest of cauliflowers is reliable and tastes good. ‘Aviron’ or ‘Igloo’ are good for slightly later caulis. For winter all the ‘Walcheren’ varieties are much the same. Try one of the coloured varieties (‘Cheddar’ is a good yellow) they taste the same and look good on the plate but the seeds are expensive.

Make sure you pick a variety that covers the time you want to eat them, some are very early. ‘Clodius’ is a favourite, but it’s not easy to find. ‘Trafalgar’ is a good late.

‘Defender’ Heavy cropping.

For early crops ‘Oarsman’ or one of the Autumn ‘Mammoth’ types. For winter ‘Bandit’ is very hardy and good flavoured.

Cut and come again types seem to do better than hearty types but maybe that’s because if you grow them too close it makes them prone to mildew. ‘Little Gem’ is a nice mini iceberg and does well.

Cut early before they get too big. ‘Tiger cross’ or ‘Badger cross’ are interchangeable. Don’t take up a lot of space as they are bush varieties.

Sets ‘Sturon’ for standard brown skin onions. Reds  ‘Hi-red’ or ‘Red Baron’ equally good. Spring onions ‘ishikuro’ if you only want to sow once and is very hardy.  ‘Summer Isle’ for repeat sowings if you like them mild. We mainly grow from seed now and like ‘Exhibition giant’ and ‘Globe’ for large onions that store well and resist bolting.

Salad ‘Anya’ but if you want more conventional looking pots then ‘Charlotte’ are very good.  ‘Pink fir apple’ are very tasty, but knobbly so scrub don’t peel. ‘Second early ‘Picasso’, excellent all rounder. ‘International Kidney (Jersey Royals)’; 2nd crop variety, but are nice as a early potato which are still pretty good when they grow bigger. The ‘Sarpo’ varieties, which are bred for blight resistance, don’t have great taste because if you leave them in the ground for just a day too long they become something that does not resemble anything that tastes like a potato! ‘Blue Danube’ has been marketed for blight resistance and has a really nice taste.  Potatoes need experimenting with to find the one you like. When you buy them from a supermarket try and buy the named varieties and write down the ones you like. In wet years it is difficult to avoid blight, but you can still get decent crops if you cut the haulms down in time. 

‘Archer’ but they are very difficult to find nowadays. To be honest there is very little difference between the F1 hybrids. ‘Gladiator F1’ is used by many. Don’t be tempted to sow too early as they won’t germinate in cold soil and you will get a disappointing crop.

‘Hurst Green Shaft’ or ‘Keveldon Wonder’ Good crop of sweet peas. Alderman are a great tall (climbing) variety.

Some are more powerful than others. ‘French Breakfast’ is a standard variety.

‘Magres’ – reliable.

‘Snowball’. Pick small though as the slugs like these if you leave them in!

‘Lark’ or ‘Swift’. Both so sweet you can just pick them off the plant and eat them  – delicious.

Probably more varieties of these than any other in catalogues. For the greenhouse ‘Shirley’ or ‘Bloody Butcher’. For cherry tomato ‘SunGold’, ‘Gardeners Delight’ or’ Sweet Million’. Costoluto Fiorentino is a fab beefsteak variety.

Best grown in a greenhouse. There are many varieties here, but a very good standard chilli is ‘ ring of fire’. Medium heat, but a decent size. The very hot Chinese varieties need a very long growing season and so are more difficult to get reliable crops. ‘ Bhut Jolokia’ – only try these if you really like it hot! ‘Praire fire’ or ‘Apache’ are small compact plants that will give you possibly over 100 chillies.

‘Pottimarron’ -very sweet tasting small round squash. ‘Crown prince’ is a blue-skinned bright orange squash that has a similar texture to sweet potato. If you want them big try ‘Atlantic giant’, but be aware that these plants roam and need a very big area to grow in.

‘Calvolo Nero’ is an excellent black kale. Very winter hardy.

Most seeds will keep for at least a few seasons if keep in dry, cool conditions. A few varieties need to be fresh. For example, parsnip.