Sunday 4 July 2010
It's raining - Yipee!
I've already been soaked this morning (while collecting bricks for my new raised beds) so I've had to accept defeat and stay at home! The rain is doing the gardening for me. But what to do? It's an opportunity to write a book review that I have had in mind for some weeks, since my birthday washed up this self selected present. (Somehow during the growing season it doesn't seem right go on about winter activities like reading, but I've been itching to post this entry.)
I have from time to time scouted around for more information on seed varieties and histories of imported plants (like potatoes and tomatoes) and found it hard to come by. For the former seed catalogues have been the only real source (although some books like How it All Began In the Garden have some tit bits). For the latter internet articles can be found (Anna Pavorda's book "The Naming of Names" is a noteworthy introduction to the general topic.)
I've noticed that seed catalogues offer the old trusty varieties at a considerable discount to the rest. Either they are more popular or else they are "out of copyright" I reckoned. But how old are they? Well Christopher Stocks has applied a bit of critical research to the history of each fruit and vegetable and goes one to detail the first known reference to each of these trusty types and many more. All in one neat little volume. I have grown quite a few of these oblivious to their pedigree. How different it feels sowing a row of seed when you are fully aware of who developed it and who it is named after, and where and when. Webb's Wonder, Glaskin's Perpetual, Cox's Orange Pippin, all have a new dimension when you know a bit about Webb, Glaskin and Cox, and their role in a bygone age of fruit and vegetable fanatacism. I feel the author has done me personally a great service for carrying out this research and publishing it and I wholeheartedly recomment the book to anyone interested in growing fruit and veg. (It's now in paperback at £8.99 ).
ps Don't be put off by the title as, with only a few exceptions necessary to explain the pedigree of current varities, by intention all varieties listed can be obtained in 2010.