Select Seeds Newsletter – Summer 2019

Our first newsletter is only 2 years late, apologies if you have been waiting.

The idea is we will try and keep you abreast of seasonal activity on the Select Seeds plot, any show successes (and failures) with our seed, new varieties coming on board and hopefully any other items that are relevant and might be of interest to the serious vegetable grower.

Weather-wise very rarely is there a season that is ideal for vegetable growers and this spring has been no exception. The cold nights stayed with us well into June and two very wet weeks here in Shropshire gave my plot a serious battering. Having said that we are at 850’ above sea level and quite exposed to high winds, so it is to be expected I guess. Fortunately, my 30’ x 15’ polytunnel and 12’ x 10’ green house and their contents survived unscathed. Next year I shall be investigating various wind-break devices as there is definitely a height difference in carrot foliage looking down the beds from the prevailing wind ends.

Our root crops in the raised beds look good. I am growing exhibition long carrots SS and MP side by side to see what is the difference. At the moment, the foliage on SS is taller by about 4”, but I haven’t had a look down below yet, that pleasure will come next month when I intend to enter Oswestry Show for the first time. My Panorama F1 parsnips also look good and this week they had a foliar feed of seaweed extract and epsom salts mixed together. Finally, my Sweet Candle F1 look okay, if not pale in the foliage, which I put down to the cold winds until recently. I did get 100% of my bore-holes with something growing in them by planting 3 carrot seeds per station and by pre-chitting the parsnips.

In the tunnel I have 3 raised beds for tomatoes, leeks and exhibition onions, which I am very pleased with, particularly the onions, which are our own selection of The Kelsae. I am not a great onion grower, but I have high hopes this season of staging a decent set of 5 or 6 somewhere.

I’m growing our new cherry tomato Miniprio F1 and standard tomato Vandos F1 plus 3 new varieties on trial that might make the catalogue next season. The Minoprio F1 fruit looks lovely and round with attractive calyces and the first ones are just turning orange from a 15th March sowing. The standard tomatoes will be ready in early August, just right for the show season. I trim the trusses down to 6-7 fruits at the flowering stage to get good shape and size.

The exhibition leeks in the tunnel also look a bit pale in the flags, so they got a foliar feed this week mixed with an insecticide for thrip and spider-mite.

Outside I have 6 further raised beds with all sorts in them. My shallots (Hative de Niort) were the first thing to be harvested in mid-June and they are now drying nicely in the greenhouse. I was happy with the size of the bulbs, but I just hope they stay nice and round for showing. Eighty caulis went in behind the shallots; Skywalker F1, Toledo F1, Nautilus F1 and Raleigh F1.

My Centro F1 onions will be next to be lifted in a couple of weeks I would say. Interestingly I grew 6 Centro F1 onions in the tunnel with The Kelsaes and they made size last week, thereby giving a 3 weeks difference to the outside ones.

We have been trialling a couple of new brassicas that are still coded names, one is a summer purple sprouting broccoli, which is delicious and the other is a Tenderstem broccoli, which will be ready next week, which they say the stems tastes like asparagus.

We have been eating broad beans now for a fortnight and in my opinion there is only one variety to grow – Giant Exhibition. It’s been really clean with no pests and hasn’t looked back since the day I planted it out in early April.

On the salads front the Analena F1 lettuce is exceptional, but don’t forget the slug control and the Glassica F1 should be ready in 2-3 weeks from the same sowing date. Good to spread the harvest, much as I like lettuce!

I have been germination testing radish, all good I am pleased to say and will be sowing the late Rudolf F1 radish soon as it goes on well into autumn.

In the greenhouse I am growing Carmen F1 and Proloog F1 cucumbers side by side to see which is best for showing and eating.

Finally, I have 4 long rows of beetroot to test the timing differences between Pablo F1 (our best-seller), Betollo F1, Cardeal F1 and Subeto F1 (not a Select Seeds variety). The best germination by far was Betollo F1 and the worst was Subeto F1 under identical conditions. Let’s see what happens when they are ready for lifting.


I hope you have enjoyed this brief trip round our plot, best of luck this season if you’re an exhibitor and we look forward to meeting as many customers as possible around the shows. We hope to have around 8 new varieties on our list for next season, which should be ready in mid-September, please watch this space!

Dave and Jill Thornton.

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