Down on the Allotment

Matron grows vegetables and fruit in a courtyard garden. Which edibles will tolerate less than ideal growing conditions. Discovering how veggies can grow in partial shade.

Thursday, May 05, 2011


A couple of nights ago there was nothing interesting to watch on TV (it seems to happen a lot these days!) so I put on my video of the Channel 4 series about the discovery of the Lost Gardens of Heligan. As the old productive gardens were brought back to life at Heligan, the staff there insisted that all the varieties of vegetables grown there were period correct. Royalty were one variety of French dwarf bean that was grown there. So nearly 8 years ago Matron made a pilgrimage down to Cornwall to see the productive gardens fully restored to their glory. Royalty was a variety of dwarf French bean that interested me. A dwarf, bush bean with magnificent dark purple beans which grew at Heligan. Matron was more than a little excited therefore to see some old plants discarded on the compost heap at Heligan. With slight of hand, and more than a little guile.... a couple of dried bean pods made their way back to Hillingdon. A grand total of 4 beans was all that were viable, and from that only one precious plant made it to adulthood. This year I decided to plant a handful of Royalty beans. They are truly amazing to grow, and perhaps next year I will have a few more to swap.Excuse the titchy photo, but this appeared in my very first month of blogging way back in 2006, before I mastered the art! I have kept this variety going by planting seeds every few years. Like many of these old heritage varieties Royalty is incredibly prolific. You can just pick, and pick, and pick and they keep coming!

So elsewhere in the greenhouse I have a couple of Tomatillo seedlings coming on nicely. I look forward to some nice, hot, Mexican tomatillo salsa later in the Summer!

And finally, being such a tomato-holic, I couldn't resist buying a late packet of Hillbilly tomatoes. This is a potato leaf variety which is an unusual red and orange mottled beefsteak tomato. Let's wait and see what comes of it. I can see some lovely, colourful photos to blog about later in the season. Watch this space!


At 9:12 PM, Blogger Cabbage Tree Farm said...

Good stuff!
Weren't you fortunate to spot that compost heap!! :-)

At 10:15 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Are the Royalty Beans you planted this year from your original one plant! I'm happy some of the beans made it home with you, it always bothers me when things that could be useful to someone are thrown away! Tomatillo salsa sounds delicious...haven't had any since I left Arizona and Texas! The name Hillbilly tomatoes brought a smile and I'll certainly be waiting to see the tomatoes...since I learned about tomato leaf tomatoes from you I've been curious to see what they produce!

At 10:55 PM, Blogger Gingerbreadshouse7 said...

I'm just learning how to save seeds for the next years planting...I have two containers of "Plum Tomatoes" (Roma's) to make sure I have them for sauce...last year I had a hard time finding them at the Farmers Market no one had them...I got them from a Special store and saved the seeds...I was able to find a Heirloom "German Johnson" I want a "Cherokee Purple" too.

At 4:53 AM, Blogger Matron said...

Theanne - no, I've grown Royalty quite a few times since then and raised quite a few seeds.

At 8:12 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It will be fascinating to see the colours of those Hillbilly's, I'll wait for those promised pics with anticipcation! Good luck with them!

At 11:52 AM, Anonymous Nate said...

It's really cool to hear a story like that behind something that's being grown and preserved - a whole new, personal chapter onto an old varieties story!

Your tomatillos look great - mine aren't thriving well, yet, though I fear I sowed them a little late =(! I have been determined to try and grow them since I first tried a 'proper' chilli verde last year.

At 11:57 AM, Blogger LindaG said...

I'm kind of surprised that seeds from a heritage breed were just tossed like that. Thank goodness you rescued them.

Now for someone who is totally clueless, are all beans like Royalty mostly cooked the same way? Are they basically interchangeable or do you make up special recipes for certain beans?

Hope you have a wonderful weekend!

At 7:18 PM, Blogger Vegetable Heaven said...

I've grown Royalty - 'they were available from Rogers garden centre near Malton. Lovely bean. I didn't keep seeds back in those days though.

At 8:35 PM, Blogger Matron said...

LindaG - I like to pick the beans whole when they are fairly small. Just steam them and drizzle with butter and garlic. Not a shelling bean.

At 10:16 PM, Blogger LindaG said...

Matron, that sounds really delicious! I may just have to try that with some plain old green beans.

Thanks for the information!

At 3:10 PM, Blogger melsanford said...

Those beans look fab! Can't wait to see what the Hillbilly's look like :-) Mel xx


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