Seedy Saturday: Rainbows, Crocodiles and Pearls

With chilli sowing season already upon us, it’s time to unearth my special seedy shoeboxes to plan for the growing year ahead. One particular box contains an exciting collection of seeds – those I’m trialling for Suttons in my role as a guest blogger for 2018. I’m really looking forward to trying out some of the new seed ranges – in particular their children’s ‘Fun To Grow’ seeds and the rainbow-coloured ‘Developed by James Wong’ collection. I’ll also be experimenting with crops and varieties I’ve not sown before, like edamame beans and chilli pepper ‘Pearls’.

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Chilli sowing signals the real beginning of the new year for me

I began buying seeds from Suttons years ago whilst searching for more unusual tomato and chilli varieties. Over the past few years I’ve grown a range of interesting Suttons crops such as cucamelons, achocha, inca berries, tomatillos, trombonchinos, Chilean guavas, and Makrut limes. Some have been more successful than others, but the exploration of more unusual crops has been fascinating and has introduced some new staples into our family garden and kitchen. Suttons continue to expand their range and now offer everything from electric daisies (on the list for next year) to liquorice (a hardy member of the pea family which I’d also love to grow).


Dogwooddays as a guest blog in Suttons 2018 catalogue

The kids are particularly excited by the ‘Fun To Grow’ range as it combines edible crops such as Crocodile Cucumber (‘Bush Champion’) and Bowling Carrots (‘Rondo’), with the more unusual Strawberry Sticks (Chenopodium – a leaf vegetable in the summer with strawberry-like fruits in the autumn) and interesting ornamentals like the Dancing Plant (Mimosa pudica) and the Caterpillar Plant (Scorpius muricatus).

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Suttons ‘Fun To Grow’ range

I like the way these varieties offer children different shapes (round carrots), easy-to-grow dwarf varieties which will work as well in pots as in the ground (Tabletop Tomato – ‘Sweet ‘n’ Neat Cherry Red’) and interactive plants like the touch sensitive Mimosa. Anything which engages children by making them think differently about plants (and where their food comes from) is a step towards a more widespread acknowledgement, not only of the complexity and beauty of the plant world, but also of the way we rely on plants for our food, medicines, many materials and the life-support systems of the planet. I think we’ll learn interesting things together and have a lot of fun with this range and I’ll be updating the blog with the progress of my little ones and their plants throughout the growing season.


‘Developed by James Wong’ rainbow range

The second range includes fruit and vegetables in a variety of different colours – focusing particularly on varieties which are rich in lycopene, the bright red phytonutrient found naturally in many fruits and vegetables. Medical studies suggest that lycopene may be a factor in improving heart health and reducing cancer risk, and work is ongoing to find out more about its health benefits. This is a topic the ethnobotanist, James Wong, covers in detail in his book ‘How To Eat Better’ which I reviewed when it came out last year. I’ve always loved growing different coloured crops – it’s fun for children and makes them look at food in a different light when they’ve grown a yellow raspberry or purple carrot. It also fills me with pleasure when I harvest a colourful basket, especially in the darker months (oca is particularly good for this), so it’s great to know that lycopene, along with a range of other colourful antioxidants in our fruit and vegetables, is also great for our health. So here goes with purple carrot ‘Night Bird’, striped tomato ‘Red Zebra’, orange squash ‘Uchiki Kuri’ and beetroot ‘Red River’.

You can’t get much better than a rainbow of vegetables – for the eyes or the stomach

Last year, the cutting patch in the allotment was one of the most pleasurable and successful elements of our growing, so I’m planning to continue growing flowers for cutting in 2018. I’ve chosen a couple of zinnias – ‘Queen Red Lime’ and ‘Molotov Mix’ as our zinnias were stunning last year and Rudbeckia ‘Irish Eyes’ as the rudbeckias lasted for ages in vases last year and really brightened up my study windowsill for much of the summer. I’ve also chosen Tithonia ‘Red Torch’ which is a vibrant orange – a colour I unexpectedly fell in love with last year.

Zinnias and rudbeckias in 2017

Finally to the new experiments for the year – I’m growing edamame beans for the first time alongside a dwarf french bean called ‘Yin Yang‘ which might look too beautiful to eat at harvest time. There’s also a new chilli variety called ‘Pearls‘, to add to my chilli collection, which has bright red ‘beaked’ fruits and a mild, fruity taste – ideal for a family meal.


Too beautiful to eat?

If you would like to follow the blog – do sow and grow along with me and compare notes throughout the year. Let me know in the comments what you’re growing this year and what crops you’re most looking forward to trying at harvest time…

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A growing season of fun for all the family

Suttons kindly supplied me with the seeds for these trials.

This post is not sponsored and I only ever trial seeds and other materials from companies which I believe in and already use. In the case of Suttons, I have been a customer for many years. I hope you find the post useful 🙂

17 thoughts on “Seedy Saturday: Rainbows, Crocodiles and Pearls

  1. tonytomeo says:

    Although I already know where to get my seed, I do like to see trials that are not sponsored. I do not get samples sent to me anymore because those sending the samples only want good reviews. Oops.

    • dogwooddays says:

      Yes I completely agree – no point trialling and reviewing if you have words put into your mouth. My views on the blog are always my own thoughts and with both seeds I buy myself (most of my reviews) and the few, like with Suttons, where I’ve been given seeds, my reviews cover both the successes and failures – although some of these may well be due to incompetence rather than the seeds!

  2. London Plantology says:

    Hi Nic!
    Great variety of seeds! What I like about Suttons seeds is all the unusual edibles you can grow. Also an idea of colourful veg appeals to me a lot!
    I will be trying some new seeds too: Achocha, Drying beans Ojo De Tigre and Hidatsa Red Indian; Padron, Aji Lemon and Santa Fe Grande chillies, cape gooseberries, Tomato Tigerella, and from the flower range: Zinnias Envy and Queen Red Lime, Astrantia Ruby Cloud, Achillea Cassis, Rudbeckia Chocolate Orange and Helenium Autumn Leaves.
    I will be following your progress with a big interest! 🙂

    • dogwooddays says:

      Yes, it’s definitely a strong point with Suttons. I loved Aji Lemon last year and Tigerella (which the kids grew), but have given up on cape gooseberries due to poor yield. It will be interesting to see how you get on with them. The flowers sound like a lovely collection. Your house will be a riot of colour come the summer 🙂

  3. Jenny Rofe-Radcliffe says:

    Dammit, I was in Homebase earlier and I forgot that I wanted a propagator to plant the alpine strawberry seeds I impulse-bought in December. I wonder if it’s almost-spring enough for Wilko to be stocking them yet … (In theory I’m driving back past Homebase again tomorrow, but they have the most fiendish bollarded carpark entrance in the world and I don’t ever want to go there again.)

    (I also wonder if I should try to seed-plant any of the other things I want to grow this year – chillies and tomatoes mostly – or whether my inexperience means it would be more sane to just buy some young plants.)

    • dogwooddays says:

      I’d give it a go, definitely. Not much can go wrong with seed sowing if you follow the basic instructions regarding density, watering, cleanliness of pots, etc… and if it does it’s not too much of a problem. Perhaps sow a few and then buy a few plants too? I’d start chillies asap and then sow tomatoes next month. Good luck! 🙂

  4. Ourhouse says:

    When it comes to seeds I’ve had truly amazing failures, with no germination, or some but then everything dies off (unbelievable disappointment). Then others have been so speculator that success has made me a permanent supporter of seed growing, Lupins always do amazing for me and one year we grew three ridiculous attention grabbing Echiums in the front garden. 8 foot tall giants and in flower for months, bees lining up to get to a flower and neighbors coming out and asking what our trio of towers were. All from seed brought from a catalog. They’re cheap and you can often find unusual or rare varieties that aren’t grown in many nurseries or garden centers. Hope you have success with your growing this year!

    • dogwooddays says:

      I agree that growing from seed gives you so much more choice. The echiums sound great – I love them, but haven’t grown any myself yet. Best of luck with your seeds this spring 🙂

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