Start with a seed

One of my favourite activities at this time of year is ordering seeds. It is a tangible manifestation of the summer to come, of abundance and the promise of longer days.

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recipes and future ingredients

For my birthday Mr Snail gave me Rick Stein’s new book The Road to Mexico, as I had very much enjoyed the recent television series. I like Mexican food, but I’ve never really cooked it. I settled down with the book the other afternoon to drool over the recipes and read what he has to say about various ingredients. As I read, I realised the potential from growing some of the herbs and spices for myself, and so I did some research and modified my seed ordering accordingly. I spread my orders between companies because no single company had all the seeds I wanted, including the two Mexican herbs Epazote and Hoja Santa. I placed the first order on Wednesday, so I was delighted to receive the seeds this morning. The company in question, South Devon Chilli Farm, sells ingredients as well as seeds, so I gave in to temptation and bought some large dried chillies and some chipotle (dried, smoked) chillies too. Chillies are the first seeds that I plant in the year because they do need a good long time to grow, so I’ll be planting the ones pictured very soon.

The rest of my seed orders mainly stuck to tried and tested things: a good range of peppers, spring onions, courgettes, squashes, parsnips etc. My only other departure was tomatillo seeds – another common ingredient in Mexican recipes and something that I grew successfully many years ago, but wasn’t exactly sure what to do with at the time. I do love the process of growing the things that I want to cook with – it may be taking ‘slow food’ to the extreme, but it is so satisfying.

My next gardening job is to have a good clear-out in the limery and then I’ll be all set for the 2018 growing season. Do you have plans to grow anything new this year?

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pictures and the real thing – hopefully I’ll have home-grown ones later in the year

 

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41 Comments

  1. Suzi

     /  January 5, 2018

    I live in Texas in US. Love Mexican food. Hope your new adventure with cooking turns out well.

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  2. Aha! Is it that time already? Mr. Tialys spends hours poring over these catalogues – I call it seed porn.

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  3. Seed buying time. – When my eyes are bigger than my allotment plot 🙂

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  4. Laurie Graves

     /  January 5, 2018

    What fun! Looking forward to future posts about the growing and the cooking.

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  5. My order from Real Seeds came today – always a sign that the year has turned and an invitation to start the new growing season.

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  6. Seed time, mmm. I should try that, think what I like to cook then try to grow the ingredients, otherwise it will be all runner beans and tomatoes again.

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    • I’m not going to grow either runner beans or tomatoes this year – the local tomato supply is huge so I’d rather fill the limery with peppers and chillies.; and it’s climbing French beans all the way rather than runners. It’s been fun starting with recipes and working backwards.

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  7. Very good! I haven’t decided what to experiment with in the garden this year but will no doubt plant most of the same things as usual. 🙂

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  8. Good luck with the chillies!

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  9. Murtagh's Meadow

     /  January 5, 2018

    Nothing like new seeds arriving! I did try tomatillo a couple of years ago but never got any fruit.

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  10. How exciting! I gave up on culinary gardening – not enough time at the moment – and am now turning everything over to bug and butterfly plants – so many flowers, many are self seeding but I had a few new varieties arrive to plant out this week. Sunflowers, poppies, cosmos, calendula… a riot of happy! And yesterday I happened across a monarch butterfly emerging from her chrysalis.

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  11. It certainly is slow cooking! But how satisfying. Keep us updated.

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  12. I think I’ll stick to the easy stuff: mangoes, passionfruit, mandarins and the occasional lemon. I used to indulge in seed catalogue surfing back when I lived in NSW and the climate was more temperate and less giant-bug-infested. One of my favourites was canellini beans, which had delicious and very pretty pods for eating when young, but also dried and kept well when more mature. I liked lombok too, as it grew very quickly and filled a niche in the crop rotation when other brassicas took more time to mature.

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  13. Oooh, exciting! Boyfriend just ordered some chilli seeds last night, so there will hopefully be a few plants here in Beastie Towers too… Although I think he’s gone for super-hot varieties, so he’ll be eating those himself! I’m going to be trying to squeeze a few herbs in for cooking, and some bee-friendly flowering plants too. Happy growing!

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  14. I’ve always had plans to create culinary theme gardens – Italian, Mexican, etc – but limited space just doesn’t allow it. I had such a terrible time with seeds last year (all my seedlings died a week after planting them) that I’m planning to buy starts except for the fool-proof things like beans. Enjoy your foray into Mexican cooking…it’s one of my go-to favorites.

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    • When I was younger I didn’t like spicy food, but I have developed a taste for it as I’ve got older – I cook lots of Indian food these days and Mexican seems like an area ripe for developing my skills – cooking and growing.

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      • I was practically raised on chili pepper-spiced food so love it, but my stepmom is Mexican-American and far outpaces my heat tolerance! She’s also an amazing cook. I love cooking Indian food too since most good Indian restaurants around here are a bit pricey.

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  15. I haven’t quite made it to the planning stages, though I’ve received at least one seed catalog. It’s always such a joy. Enjoy!

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  16. Rebecca

     /  January 7, 2018

    Inspiring….am thinking tomatillos andchillus too!

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  17. Do you ever get to use seeds from plants you’ve grown yourself? I would feel like a super awesome green machine if I could ever do that

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    • Sometimes I do. I saved some climbing French beans from last year and I’ll be growing them again this year. When I mentioned this fact in a past post Helen (whose blog is Crawcrafts Beasties – check it out if you haven’t seen it) said she’d love to grow some too, so I sent her some of the seeds to have a go with too.

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  18. Im an avid gardener. Started with the faith of a mustard seed. So blessed with my herbs and veggies. I regularly share with neighbours and anyone who shares my joy of my garden treats. I going to make a bean curry and a separate butternut dish tossed in garlic, onion, oil and 1 red dry chillies. Butternut from my garden. So glad i found your blog and this post.

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