I am pleased to report that Sally got my seeds on Tuesday, and she sent me a lovely e-mail to say that she enjoyed my packet. I did my best to include seeds with a story, since I struggle to find heirloom varieties over here. I often have to get them from the UK, and all the suppliers that I talk to laugh, since a lot of their seed is grown over here in the Netherlands. I find this pretty frustrating, as there are very few varieties on offer here and even less choice if you want organic seed. Not to mention the crazy seed miles that they have to travel. Anyway, I’m glad that Sally liked her parcel; I hope to be able to save some more seed, so I should have some more variety in the future.
Yesterday, it was my turn. As I mentioned in my last post, my penpal Charlotte has been to India. Lucky me, I got lots of lovely seeds from India, and some from elsewhere too. Charlotte was really good at getting plants that suit my shady garden, or my sunny windowsill, as well as being some of my favourite things to eat.
From India, I got:
- Bangalore cucumber mix – with a random tomato seed. Charlotte picked up a pack of cucurbits, including some oblong ones, and there were a few random seeds in the pack, which she shared with me too.
- Ash gourd, which is a popular Ayurvedic plant in India, particularly good for strengthening the digestive system, and protecting against indigestion and urinary tract problems. I am lucky not to currently suffer frequently from either, but now I can make sure they stay away!
- Unknown squash, Charlotte couldn’t be sure of more than that, because the packet was in Mayalam. She postulates it is a winter squash, and recounts an unsuccessful attempt at explaining what a courgette is when she was trying to find out more.
- A variety of yard long beans. Unknown, as again the packet was in Mayalam. I can’t wait to be able to grow these, I love beans and surprise varieties are always welcome.
- Some Lab Lab beans. I am assured that these have beautiful flowers. I am already trying to think of some construction that will show them off near the house.
- Palak Bhaji and Dhanta Saag, both of which are leafy greens, possibly amaranth types. They will be a different flavour to add to my salads and as cooked greens.
And it doesn’t stop there, Charlotte also sent me seeds that she enjoys, and that she chose because I prefer things that you can eat. All of the seeds she sent have a story, but I particularly enjoyed some of the stories with these seeds.
The stories and the seeds are:
- Kimberton tomatoes; a yellow tomato variety developed by the members of Camphill Village, an intentional community in Kimberton, Pennsylvania for people with developmental disabilities. They grow their own fruit and veg, and develop varieties of plants. Charlotte is actually from a town very near to this community, so these are seeds from both her home and her homeland. She mentions that the packet says “Grown and selected for many years by the late Hupert Zipperlin from Camphill Village, Kimberton”, so thank you to Hupert for these seeds too.
- Sokol Breadseed Poppy. Charlotte sent me these because the seeds are easy to collect, due to the unique way the seed heads form. She thought that they would be interesting for me, despite the fact that I don’t grow many flowers. I have previously not seen much point in flowers, but I am trying to garden using permaculture principles. I am seeing increasing uses for many flowers, and have learned a lot about edible flowers, and parts of flowering plants. I’m looking forward to benefiting from an abundance of beauty as well as the tasty seeds next year.
- Nautica Beans, which are a particular favourite of Charlotte’s. She says that they are thin, tender and tasty, and remained so for the duration of her trip to India. She says she thinks they are amazing, and may not grow any other variety of bush beans. High praise indeed, I’m looking forward to these in a thousand different dishes already.
- Minutina (Buckhorn Plantain) was chosen because I like to eat weeds. Or what others may consider weeds, in any case. I have found most of them to be delicious. Foraging is even better when you don’t have to look too hard.
- Radish Munchen Bier, which are podding radishes. You don’t eat the root; you wait until they go to seed and eat the seed pods. I’ve never tried these before, so I’m looking forward to these too. Charlotte recommends stir frying them.
I also got Nardello peppers to grow indoors and some bunching onions and mixed lettuce, which will be great for the 52 week salad challenge.
You may have noticed the glorious yellow scarf underneath the seeds in the photo. Charlotte also sent me this, another present from India. Isn’t it beautiful? And as we head into winter, or even if we get another summer like this one, it is a vibrant reminder of sunshine, and happy hours in the garden.
Thank you, Charlotte. There is certainly a lot to challenge me, and a lot of brilliant plants to look forward to.
Anyone can join the Seedy Penpals, whether you have a window box or a wood. I can vouch for the fact that people have enjoyed the first one, and that you get some great surprises and new and interesting plants. If you are interested, see here for more details and how to join up for the next swap, which will be in the spring. New seeds, new varieties, new friends. What’s not to like?