It is so cold outside there is only one thing to do and I am loving it! Seed sorting. Today is the day to rummage through an assortment of tins, packed with scruffy packets of seeds that didn’t make it into the ground last year.
Although seeds lose their viability as time goes on I am reluctant to throw them away. Lettuce seeds usually come in packets of several hundred and, even with the slugs share, we cannot each that much of the green stuff.
Seeds keep best in cool conditions, ideally in a tin in the fridge.
So what is in the tin?
Sweet cicely. I love the aniseed flavour of this herb. Simply chewing a stalk tastes fabulous and cooked it adds flavour to pies and crumbles. I cannot get this herb to germinate, I have tried it in pots and outside, I have frozen it and scattered it to no avail. My fellow plotter Adrian, however, cannot get rid of the stuff as it self seeds freely across his plot!
Nasturtiums. Last year I was staggered at the cost of nasturtium seeds with prices ranging from £1.99 to £3.99 for 10 seeds. Because of this I saved some seeds as I like to grow this plant in a hanging basket. The flowers and leaves have a peppery taste and the seeds can be used in a similar way to capers. Edible flowers are gaining in popularity and last year these gorgeous blooms added colour and flavour to dishes at the Bean and Brush cafe in Sale, Cheshire.
Hypericum perforata. St Johns Wort. This prolific self seeder bears masses of yellow flowers in mid summer. The flowers can be dried and made into a tea to lift the spirits or, if you don’t fancy that, the cheery colour alone is enough to raise a smile.
Tomato. I grow a variety of tomato plants including cherry tomato Gardener’s Delight, salad tomato Moneymaker, plum tomato Roma and beefsteak tomato Brandywine. The packets average 75 to 100 seeds far too many for a family of five. I find that 3 to 5 plants of each variety is plenty and even then they won’t all fit in the greenhouse. I chance a couple of moneymaker’s and Gardener’s delight outside against a south facing wall. I have plenty of seeds left over and will sow them indoors in a couple of weeks. Brandywine is an heirloom variety and I save the seeds by drying them on a piece of kitchen roll before storing them in the fridge.
Pot marigold. Calendula officinalis. I have absolutely no idea why I have gathered and stored a large bag of these seeds as they get everywhere! They pop up all over the garden, in the paving and have escaped into the neighbours gardens too. But who can resist the bold oranges and yellows of these flowers that pep up a salad and liven up a herbal tea.
Scorzonera. Black salsifis. A gift from my sister brought back from Barcelona. I grew a few plants last year but neglected to harvest them. I was, an still am, unsure how to cook them. I did learn that the leafy tops are edible so I gave it a go. Just because a bit of the plant is edible it doesn’t mean it should be, needless to say it went in the bin. I will give it another go this year as the best before suggests the seeds are still viable. Any cooking suggestions will be gratefully received.
Radishes. These are so satisfying to grow. Sprinkle a handful of seed on the soil and in a few weeks you wll be enjoying raw, crunchy radishes with a deliciuos peppery kick.
Beetroot. Although they come in different shapes and colours Boltardy , a red variety, is still my favourite. Roasted it is delicious, pickled it is sensational. I failed to plant any seeds last year but this season they will be top of my list!