Getting Children Involved in Gardening
6th Nov 2004
The clocks have now gone back an hour which pretty effectively puts a halt to any evening activities in the garden. There is however one activity that I thoroughly enjoy during these dark Autumn and Winter evenings and that is to thumb through a host of vegetable seed catalogues. Most catalogues will have dropped through your letter box by now and inevitably, as breeding work on the various vegetables continue, so does the inclusion of newer varieties in the catalogues.
I am always striving to get more children involved in growing and probably more importantly in eating fresh vegetables. It's a well known fact that children love brightly coloured foods and one definite way to make them more appetising is through having a really colourful range.
Up to a couple of years ago all the carrots that we had on offer were all orange in colour, now we have Yellow ones as well as purple, red and the latest Rainbow coloured variety.
One could say that the carrots are in reality returning to their roots as they were, as far back as the 10th century, a variety of colours with white through to purple being more of the norm than orange. It was during the 17th century that things really took a change when the Dutch growers started breeding the orange colour in earnest, favouring the colour used on their national flag. The yellow variety Yellowstone, is yellow throughout and has to be grown for it"s flavour as well as a strong resistance to cracking and the carrot fly. Last Christmas I had some Yellowstone still left in one bed and some Gringo in another, most of the Gringo were riddled and cracked whilst the Yellowstone were in perfect condition.
A new purple carrot called Purple Dragon is exclusively released for 2005 in Thompson and Morgans' seed Catalogue as is Rainbow, a new F1 hybrid carrot. This is a result of some unique breeding over many years producing a mixture of pastel shades with a diversity in skin and core colours from white to pale yellow through to shades of orange. Carrots are extremely rich in beta carotene which is a powerful anti-oxidant and is found particularly in the orange colour. Purple coloured vegetables contain pigments called anthocyanins which also act as anti-oxidants. As a general rule, the brighter and more colourful the vegetables, the more anti-oxidant nutrients are likely to be present such as in tomatoes, purple sprouting broccoli and a range of different coloured peppers.
Runner Beans and Dwarf French Beans
Wisley Magic is a Runner Bean that"s definitely going to be worth growing in 2005, British bred by Dr Peter Dawson of Tozers Seed and sold by Thompson & Morgan. The only vegetable on release to celebrate the RHS BI Centenary celebrations, awarded an RHS AGM (Award of Garden Merit) at the latest Runner bean trials and easily came out on top as the heaviest yielding as well as producing regular quality pods through out the Summer.
To continue with the colour theme, Unwins are introducing a new yellow Dwarf French Bean called Sonesta, a heavy cropper with the waxy yellow beans being held clear of the foliage making picking easier. Amongst their carrot list is Samurai, a long red fleshed carrot with fine flavour and ideal for lifting young as finger carrots, this variety is also featured in the Suttons catalogue.
Marshalls are well known for their onion sets and are offering a heat prepared onion collection consisting of one pack of each of the following, New Fen Globe, Red Baron and Showmaster with a saving of £1.25 off the normal catalogue price. Another collection well worth growing is the 'Tasty Trio', a colourful mixture of red, white and yellow globe beetroot. Certainly a change from the regular red variety and with less risk of staining from the yellow and white types.
Suttons have six new introductions with Trevi giving us an alternative to our regular white cauliflowers. Trevi has green curds producing delicious crisp medium to large heads from September to November. I have grown this one for my Chelsea display and it's much easier to handle than your white as the curds don't have to be covered up. A recent survey of children has indicated that their favourite vegetable is the Pea. Suttons are introducing Avola, a new early type that grows to only 22inches in height yet it carries a bumper crop of pods with up to 8 peas per pod that's high in Vitamin B1.
My own full coloured seed catalogue is now available as well containing many new highly coloured vegetables.
Catalogues from =
Marshalls &Co Ltd, Freepost NATE104, Wisbech, Cambs PE13 2BR
Medwyns of Anglesey, Llanor, Ffordd Hen Ysgol, Llanfairpwll, Anglesey, LL61 5RZ email - medwynsofanglesey.co.uk
Suttons, Woodview Road, Paignton, Devon TQ4 7NG
Thompson and Morgan, Poplar Lane, Ipswich, Suffolk, IP8 3BU
Unwins Seeds Ltd, Mail Order Department, Freepost ANG10815, Cambridgeshire PE13 2BR