Sorting Seeds, Planning Vegetable Growing

Sorting the Seeds

Going through my box, it’s down to sorting what I have to see what I need to get and sorting into sowing order. Some things will be successional so they get sorted according to when the first sowing will be made.

I actually use an old portable filing box to help with this as well as a wooden wine box from a French trip to store bulk items.

I’m going to try and avoid sowing too much just because I have the seed and give away the excess.

Pea and Bean Family

First to tackle is the easiest as they are the bulkiest – the pea and bean tribe also known as the leguminosae.

Broad Beans

I’ve got two and a half packs of Bunyards Exhibition and one pack (about 40 seeds) of Witkiem-Manita that I’ll sow in February / March and two packs of Aquadulce that will be saved for next year. I’ve not tried the Witkiem-Manita so they’ll be an experiment.

French Beans

I’ve some Borlotti for sowing in April and some Haricot Nain de Rocquencourt, which are a lovely waxy yellow bean that do better fresh than frozen. A large 150g pack of Tendercrop that need using and will do as a green manure if nothing else, a tip I heard from the blessed saint Flowerdew on GQT

Kenya Beans

I’ve an outdated pack of Twiggy that I’ll sow come May ? should be interesting.

Climbing French Beans

Half a pack of Cobra and Blue Lake, which is plenty

Runner Beans

Half packs of Polestar and Streamline, more than enough. A pack of White Emergo will be saved for next year and a couple of packs of Relay will be donated to the NVS seed swap.


I’ve never done too well with peas, so darn fiddly to pod doesn’t enthuse me either but I’ve a pack of Onward and a pack of Kelvedon Wonder so they will do. If I can find some guttering, I’ll try getting them going in the greenhouse in April.

The Onion Tribe ? Alliums

I’ve got Japanese onions and garlic in the ground and a couple of bags of sets, which are always fairly easy but onions from seed often seem to keep better.

Last year Ailsa Craig provided some really good sized onions. I’ve also got Bedfordshire Champion and Red Baron. These will be sown shortly into modules in the greenhouse to be transplanted outdoors early May.


I’ve a pack of Musselburgh, which are a good keeper and will stand right through to March and a pack of Autumn Mammoth Verina. They don’t stand as well but you can get lovely long blanched stems from them. I’ll start these off in March.

Spring Onions

I’ve got quite a few of these, Ishikura, Ramrod and half a pack of White Lisbon being the conventional spring onions. I’ve also half a pack of Shiminata, which is an old Japanese type that I tried but didn’t do well with last year and half a pack of my favourite, North Holland Blood Red Redmate. This is a red spring onion that, if left, will bulb up like a maincrop. These can all be started in March and sown in succession.

Root Crops

Now for the carrots, parsnips and beetroot etc.


I’ve a pack of Javelin, long straight roots so I may try these in a half barrel of sand and compost. I know I can’t compete with the show growers, but maybe I’ll get something special for me.

I’ve also a pack of White Gem, a short rooted variety that may do better in my heavy soil than Javelin would.

Usually they say to start parsnips directly into the ground in February but the cold wet soil hardly helps germination and may well account for their reputation for poor germination. I was amazed when one plotholder successfully grew parsnips in a seed tray and transplanted them. I think I’ll try starting them off in modules and transplanting early. That may be more work in one way but if I get better germination and don’t have to thin it will be worth it. I’ve also noticed they often germinate in a clump so thinning leaves big gaps.


I’ve a trial pack of Osiris F1 from Medwyn’s ? no idea what they will be like but I suppose I’d best look after these carefully.

I’ve a pack of Early Nantes 2 that I’ll try a sowing in the greenhouse of in February, following on with an outdoor sowing in March / April and a Nantes Frubund (Fast Crop) that I’ll try the same with.

Next I’ve got Senior F1 and Healthmaster which will start sowing in April so I think I’m OK for carrots.


I don’t like these, but my wife does and I’ve half a pack of Solist and a full pack of Detroit 2 Crimson Globe so she’ll be happy. Start sowing in April.


I’ve half a pack of Golden Ball. They didn’t do well for me last year and I think I’ll look for another variety. T & M’s Ivory, I think looks interesting as it is cylindrical with Snowball for a more conventional shape.


Although this is really a brassica, I always think of Swedes as a root. I’ve half a pack of Best of All but I wasn’t too impressed with the results so again I’ll look for an alternative, Brora seems to fit the bill.

I’ve also got some Spinach beet ? a leaf vegetable rather than a root but it seems to fit here.

Next I’ve some Kohl Rabi Superschemeltz ? never eaten this let alone grown it so should be fun. Medwyn Williams says it is easy to grow and under rated in his article Growing Your Own Vegetables – Kohl Rabi and even covers cooking it.


And finally half a pack of salsify although it seems a lot of fuss to prepare for eating.

Salad Crops


First thing with salad crops has to be the tomatoes. Now I have the big greenhouse I hope to get a really good crop. I’ve a pack of Sungold which I think are the finest sweet tomatoes you can get. One plant in the greenhouse and one at home will be fine. I’ve half a pack of Ailsa Craig, which we liked and a pack of Gardener’s Delight that will go into the greenhouse as well as half a pack of Garden Pearl so we can have a plant at home of these outdoor cherry tomatoes. I’ve a few seeds of Big Boy so I’ll try for a plant of those for the greenhouse as well. What I’m missing is an outdoor plum variety so I’ll get some Roma VF, which are very heavy cropping and disease resistant and can be grown outdoors or in the greenhouse


I’m fine with these, got half a pack of Black Beauty and a pack of Red Egg. I’ve never grown these before and they seem interesting but they’re no longer listed on the T&M site.


I’ve got some Tasty King F1 so I’ll start these in February for a greenhouse crop and some Burpless Tasty Green to start in April for an outdoor plant. These are my favourite cucumber, really tasty.


I’ve loads of these, French Breakfast and Scarlet Globe so I’m fine for them.

Hot Peppers

I’ve got Habanero, Cayenne and a mixture of hot types labelled “Hot & Spicy” so fine for hot peppers.

Sweet Peppers

I’ve a mixture pack from T&M and half a pack of Golden Californian Wonder, Ok for sweet peppers.

Lettuce and Leaves

I seem to have a load of these including stalwarts like Tom Thumb and Little Gem as well as Lollo Rosso and mixed cut and come again packs. Come the mid-summer I’ve a pack of Lakeland and for autumn a pack of Artic King. More than enough here.

Squash, Marrow, Courgettes and Pumpkins

I’m fine on these, Butternut and Sunburst squash, Jack O’Lantern pumpkins, Green Bush marrow, Golden Dawn courgettes and Black Beauty courgettes. Note to self: two courgette plants is plenty for two people!


I’ve half a pack of Samish so that will be enough for us there.

Brassicas ? the Cabbage Tribe

Last year was a bit of a disaster for brassicas. Main problem being the soil quality where I planted. I got the Ph right but lack of nutrition, wet weather holding them too long in pots all contributed to a poor crop that the caterpillars enjoyed more than us. This year will be different, I say that every year of course.

White Mustard

This is a green manure crop that I follow on potatoes with as it is supposed to confuse and kill the potato worm as well as, like all green manure, holding nutrients etc. One and a half packs, so no problem there.

Chinese Cabbage

I’ve half a pack of these for sowing between June and August.


Some of my seeds are past their sow by date but I know they can be stored for 5 years and the worst case is a lower germination rate, so I’ll just sow more and thin out as required. I only want one or two successful plants from each anyway.

For early sowing, February and March, I have: Primo, Greyhound, Christmas Drumhead, Marner Storing Red and Fuego.

For May and June sowing I’ve half a pack of Ormskirk Late and for July to September a pack of Savoy King.

Calabrese Romanesco

These were a failure last year, but 2007 will be different. I’ll sow them in March under glass for transplanting outdoors in May or June


I’ve half a pack of Chevalier, which did reasonably last year and half a pack of Wilko’s own brand so they’ll do fine for me.


I’ve a pack of Summer Purple Sprouting (Woc Brocc) for successional sowing from March. The early purple sprouting have never performed for me so maybe this cultivar will be the charm.

Brussels Sprouts

I’ve a pack of Topline and half a pack of Wellington, both F1 hybrids so we’re fine there. I used to hate this vegetable until we grew our own and learned how to not overcook them.


Cauliflower is my favourite brassica and second favourite vegetable after broad beans, so a real good attempt to get a decent crop this year.

First is Mayflower, sow now under glass for an early crop. Then Purple Graffiti which can be sown now. I had a few off them before and the flavour isn’t too brilliant but the deep purple colour, even when cooked, impresses vegetable hating children. In this batch the old standard of All Year Round in case Mayflower fails again

Come April and May I’ll be sowing Aalsmeer, Autumn Giant and Pavilion. The Pavilion was the success of last year. Almost show quality, despite no insecticide use and very tasty as well.

So that’s it, all sorted and dropped into the right month slots in my filing cabinet. Just a matter of growing them now ? slight understatement there!

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