Vegetables? I know we haven’t experienced the best crops this season, but there is still a chance to look ahead to next year. So, I’ve been to the trial grounds in Cambridgeshire, and discovered a lot of new varieties. New tastes, new colours, new ways to grow…
Tomato Indigo Kumquat
Every day is a school day, I didn’t realise that black tomatoes aren’t actually ripe while they’re black. The black actually changes to a lovely deep red, and that’s the moment when you pick them and devour them. This plum shaped variety was super cute, and really takes tomatoes into a new dimension, ooooh!
Shock horror, with all my strange food choices, I have never cooked with an aubergine that is any colour other than purple! This fantastic variety boggles my tiny mind. Aubergines have come a long way in terms of growing, when I was a kid, I could only have dreamt of a crop like what I’m seeing here.
Dwarf Beans Celine
Now, our host apologised for their beans, the late season means they aren’t even creating pods yet. But, I could see something different, I could actually see an interesting patio plant, which wouldn’t look out of place alongside few geraniums or petunias.. But, if you’re not that way inclined, this is actually a heavy cropping purple podded bean!
I got quite a surprise when I peeled the leaves back, and saw a fantastic green cauliflower. They’re really fun, the purple ones too. I’ve been making lots of fried cauliflower steaks recently, and I can’t wait to get my hands on one of these heads!
Garden Pea Golden Sweet
There are so many colours going on here, it is phenomenal. Not only are the pods golden yellow, and harvested when young, but the flowers are a lovely mauve colour, which fades to blue. The result is a myriad of colours on a plant with marbled green foliage. Dammit, I would grow this in the flower border, the allotment can wait.
Garden Pea Purple Magnolia
Now, this plant got me thinking, what if somebody bred a sweet pea that was hybridised with a good tasting garden pea. The result would be a plant where you picked the flowers for 8 weeks, and then allowed it to create pods, which you then would cook. The reason I was thinking this, was due to the gorgeous long stems and flowers on this fantastic purple podded variety!
Oh, this is a new one, it doesn’t even have a name yet. It’s a lovely black kale, but with much broader foliage than the typical type. Get me a roasting pan!
Onion Bulb Top Gold
Now, these onions were intriguing, and they didn’t have any foliage. But they don’t need it, as these are pickling onions. You can almost pick them from the ground, and drop them straight into the vinegar!, there and then!
Pepper Hot Topik
You know those cute little peppers, the round ones, that are often stuffed with cheese? Here’s the variety that produces them! Despite being a chili pepper, they aren’t really that hot, and it turns out they’re also easy to grow. I’m putting that on the shopping list for sure!
Pepper Sweet Exp
A very exciting addition to the pepper family. This is a variegated variety, so not only is the foliage marbled, as per a typical variegated plant, but the fruit is too!!
These radishes never form fully, the whole plant stays slender, and the idea is that you use the whole thing in a stirfry. How cool is that??
Radish Ruby Yeol
Finally, I’ve saved the best for last, this is what I call the glitterball radish. The colour is blooming awesome, you really have to see it to believe it, like a lustrous purple. Super easy to grow, you could be cropping it in 8 weeks!!
Look out for many of these new vegetable varieties in the new seed catalogues, which will be dropping on your doormat any day now!
Michael has been involved with gardening and plants since he was just five years old. He is a self-professed Plant Geek, and was listed in the Sunday Times top 20 most influential people in the gardening world, thanks to his plant hunter role at Thompson & Morgan.
Michael was responsible for new plant introductions such as the Egg and Chips plant and the FuchsiaBerry and keeps busy travelling the world in search of new plants as well as lecturing worldwide, including stints in Japan. He is very active on social media – so why not give him a follow at @mr_plantgeek or Facebook. You can also listen to The Plant Based Podcast with Michael and co-host Ellen-Mary on iTunes, Spotify and Google.