25 May 2012

Nun's belly buttons!

Nearly all of the vegetables we grow at Hill Top are so-called ‘heritage’ varieties, which mean they have been in cultivation for over 50 years and in some cases many hundreds of years. Over the decades they have been superseded by newer hybrids offering higher yields, more uniformity or better pest and disease resistance, but with a little searching, the old varieties can still be found.

One of the joys of heritage seeds is the fantastic names they have. Some describe where the plants were bred; ‘Cheltenham green-top’t’, ‘Ormskirk’ and ‘Bedfordshire Champion’ for example. Some are named for the person who bred them;  ‘Mr Glaskin’s Perpetual’, ‘Harrison’s First in the Field’, Bunyard’s Exhibition etc and some describe the plant itself ‘Dwarf Green Curled’, ’Purple Podded’,  ‘Long Green Bush’.

Some, though, are just plain odd. There’s a Lettuce ‘Drunken Woman’, a Pea ‘Tall Telephone’ and a Bean ‘Lazy Housewife’; but my absolute favourite, and one I couldn’t resist growing at Hill Top is a dwarf French bean which rejoices in the name ‘Nun’s Belly Button’!

Can you see the nun?

I suppose if you squint at the dark markings on the seed it could look a bit like a nun in her habit and the bit where the bean was attached when in its pod (technically called the hilum) is right where her belly button would be, but it's tenuous at best!
Anyway, I sowed them in small pots in my greenhouse and three weeks later the young plants are being hardened off ready for planting out next week.

Three weeks later
After a really cold spring we've finally had some warm weather and Hill Top garden has burst into life. The wisterias are at their best, the azaleas are still going strong and the lilacs look superb. Things are a bit behind in the veg garden but if the good weather continues it'll soon catch up. I'm already looking forward to the first crop of beans.
The white wisteria in full bloom
Post and photos by Pete the Gardener