The Welsh Vegetable Project from Dyfi Valley Seedsavers

April 8, 2011 § Leave a comment

The Welsh Vegetable Project from Dyfi Valley Seedsavers is a summary of Wales’ heirloom cultivars, published January – December 2010.


The Welsh Vegetable Project


The aims of the project were to seek to find and trial Welsh Heritage Vegetable varieties within Wales that are not available on the National List and to trial them amongst a variety of growers in Powys.

The project aimed to seek out varieties that may be on the verge of disappearing, or new varieties bred in Wales and to raise awareness of the importance of vegetable diversity by encouraging seed saving. The project was further motivated by a need to reduce food miles, and to encourage food growing using varieties that are suitable for the growing conditions of the local area in the light of climate change and the growing need for food security.

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How to get big aubergine yields

February 5, 2011 § 2 Comments

It can be challenging to get a really substantial crop from aubergines in the UK so we have put together an extended growing guide (the original can be read on our website here) to help.

Aubergine plants need regular care throughout their lifecycle to ensure plants receive no check to growth- the benefits of this early care will be seen in the harvest weight.

As aubergines need a long growing season, get an early start in March by raising young plants with heat and under glass outdoors, or on a sunny windowsill indoors. Seeds can be started as early as end January as long as sufficient heat and light can be provided. Aubergine seeds should be started no later than April/early May-  better to buy plugs at this time in the season.

Aubergine seeds, along with tomato and chilli seeds love ‘bottom heat’ (i.e from a heated mat, propagator, hotbed or soil heating cables) and will germinate much more quickly and consistently with this provision.

Pot on transplants when they have healthy but not dense rootballs. You can keep potting them on every 3-4 weeks until they go into the ground.

Plant your aubergines into their final growing positions in late April or May- a bit earlier in a polytunnel/greenhouse. Its is not advisable to plant out too early as aubergines grow well in pots but are stunted by cold temperatures and harsh winds.

They should be at least 15-20cm tall when they go into the ground:


Aubergines plants are attractive and look good in flower beds and containers. They grow relatively slowly compared to tomatoes, cucurbits and tall herbs, and in addition they are short plants when mature (maximum 1m), so it is advisable to plant them in or near the front of the bed receiving full sun, and give them plenty of room. The more sun the better for aubergines.


Aubergine plants need as much heat and wind protection as possible and well-draining soil, a sandy loam type soil is ideal.

Container grown aubergines should be housed in pots which are a minimum 30cm wide and 45cm deep. A suitable compost blend for aubergines contains plenty of rich soil, soil aerators and slow release fertilisers.

Aubergines have a deep rooting profile and will benefit from the soil being worked at depth prior to planting. Plant spacing is at least 45cm (18”) for the mini aubergines and 90cm (36”) for large varieties. Leave at least 70cm (30”) between rows.

Loosely tie the plant stem to a central stake to guide growth upwards, if neccessary. Aubergine plants tend to bifurcate naturally but you can pinch out the top of the plant when it is about 30 cm (9”) tall to encourage it to bush out if it does not appear to be doing so by itself.


As the plant matures, avoid overwatering and feed consistently with a general purpose fertiliser until fruits set. As fruits begin to swell, switch to a feed which is higher in potash.

Watering regularly (little and often) is important during fruit maturation. Harvest each fruit as it matures (when still glossy and firm) by cutting the stem to ensure continued fruit set. If fruits lose their gloss they are too ripe and may not cook well- in this case it is best to keep it for seed.

Pinch off blossoms 4 weeks before the first expected frost so that the plant channels energy into ripening existing fruit instead of producing new ones.

Choosing tomato cultivars

January 21, 2011 § Leave a comment

There are hundreds of tomato cultivars available. Here are a few of my favourites.

This is a Cuor di Bue I grew last year, an excellent variety for mozarella salads.

Anna Russian fruits are a lovely shape and the flesh is sweet:

Currant Goldrush is a particular favourite because the foliage is very fine and pretty:

Two of the best websites to help you choose which varieties you want to grow are:

…though prepare to be browsing for quite some time 🙂

A list of seed societies & seed banks from

January 19, 2011 § Leave a comment

Its about this time of year that seed catalogues start arriving in the post. With the weather being so cold and snowy the only thing I have been able to plant is Meconopsis baileyi, a blue Himalayan poppy. I have a somewhat pathetic success rate with this poppy so here’s hoping the snow will persuade it to germinate.
Here is some excellent information from on seed societies, seed banks and seed exchanges around the world.
” If you’re looking for interesting or heirloom seeds to grow, bank or give as gifts seed companies aren’t the only place to “shop” for seeds. There are plenty of seed societies, seed saving groups and places to exchange seeds. Here’s a listing of non-commercial seed societies, seed savers and seed exchanges from around the world. There is a separate listing for seed banks from around the world. While there may some overlap between the goals of these groups with the seed banks, I think they deserve separate listings. You find all of these seed societies, seed savers and seed exchanges in the Seed Snatcher search engine.
Bay Area Seed Interchange Library (US)
DYFI Valley Seed Savers (UK)
Garden State Heirloom Seed Society (US)
International Seed Saving Institute (US)
Irish Seed Savers (IE)
Koanga Institute (NZ)
Native Seed Search (US)
Organic Seed Alliance (US)
Organic Seed Partnership (US)
Primal Seeds (US)
Save Our Seed Project (US)
Seed Savers Exchange (US)
Seed Savers Network (AU)
Seeds of Diversity (CA)
Seedy Sunday (UK)
Seed and Plant Sanctuary of Canada (CA)
Southern Seed Legacy (US) 

If there’s a seed organization, group or seed exchange group that you think I should add please leave a message in the comments or contact me. In particular I’m interested in listing regional groups and groups outside of North America.”

Seeds up-close

November 13, 2010 § Leave a comment

Close-up shots of seeds.


Images from Wikimedia.


Pretty things to make from twigs, seed pods etc

November 1, 2010 § Leave a comment

Click here for an interesting article from the Telegraph detailing plants with attractive stems/leaves/seed pods which can be used ornamentally in bouquets, Christmas wreathes etc

The Independent published a similar article shortly after, read it here. Both articles are full of good ideas, worth a read for inspiration!

Seeds for Food – A great project which redistributes seeds to developing countries

October 22, 2010 § Leave a comment

Seeds for Food is a project which collects seeds and redistributes them to those who need them. they ask people to collect seeds from essentially kitchen waste: tomatoes, pumpkins, strawberries, etc, clean and dry them and post them to Seeds for Food.

Here is an excerpt from the organisations’ website:

Photo: Fresh food full of vitamins and mineral elements in the Sahara desert (Tindouf area, S.W. Algeria) grown from seeds collected by people in developed countries (UNICEF’s family garden and school garden project).


Let us banish hunger and poverty from the world!In 2005 I was invited by UNICEF ALGERIA to work as an advisor for the project “Family and school gardens in the Saharawi refugee camps of South-East Algeria”.

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