Top vegetables to grow in 2015 - Telegraph
Early in January and February is a good time to flip through all the new seed catalogues and find some exciting new vegetables to grow.
Many of us love spinach, but if it's been conventionally grown it's one of the plants which contains the highest pesticide residue, even after a good wash (visit ewg.org). This is therefore a good crop to grow yourself, yet spinach can be tricky to germinate. So instead, choose komatsuna (thompson-morgan.com) ideal for sowing in a greenhouse, or a sheltered spot under a plastic tunnel or cloche. It's easier to grow than baby-leaf spinach, but similar in flavour.
The plants are hardy enough to grow right through winter – particularly under glass – but also fine to grow and slow to bolt in spring and summer.
Salsola (realseeds.co.uk), is great raw in salads. It reminds me of samphire and is popular with chefs, who wilt it down by quick-frying in olive oil or butter. This is delicious served with almost any fish and is another cut-and-come-again annual (or, strictly speaking, a tender perennial). Harvest it with scissors, cutting off the top shoots. To aid germination, put the seed in the freezer for a few days before sowing.
Suttons.co.uk also have true samphire – the delicious stuff usually harvested from the mudflats of East Anglia, Kent and the Brittany coast. There's no reason we can't all grow it as a cut-and-come-again. I imagine it will need regular watering, but I'm certainly going to try it.
For later in the summer, I've also fallen for a blue-black tomato 'Indigo Rose' (suttons.co.uk; denieuwetuin.be). Two gardener-grower friends of mine grew this last year and recommend it – sweet, tangy and thin-skinned. The skin contains the same pigment as blueberries and blood oranges (anthocyanin), one of the most powerful antioxidants yet discovered.
Sweetcorn 'Red Strawberry' makes excellent popcorn
Look out also for the almost everlasting sweetcorn 'Red Strawberry' (thompson-morgan.com; denieuwetuin.be), invaluable for looking good in displays and wreaths. I'm hoping to grow a glade of this next summer. And I'm planning to use it as my vertical climbing frame for a new bean discovery 'Helda' (organiccatalogue.com; kingsseedsdirect.com; sarahraven.com), again recommended by friends. It has meltingly tender flesh and no hint of that terrible stringiness which puts us all off grown-too-large runners.
Then, for the end of the year but for sowing this spring, I'm trying out flower sprouts, a cross between a Brussels sprout and kale (dobies.co.uk). I've only eaten these in London restaurants, but this year we should all grow our own. They taste like a mild, sweeter sprout and are very good for you. Like all brassicas, they contain vitamins and antioxidants to boost our immune systems.
My final must-sow is kale from Peter Bauwens's unusual list (denieuwetuin.be). We should all eat more of this. It's full of compounds which turn on the detoxifying system in our own cells and so help protect against various cancers. If you can find kales which look good in the garden as well as being good to eat, and give us a new boost of life, you're on to a winner.