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The Real Seed Catalogue
Summer 2013 Garden Report

Kate with the Parsnip seed crop

Oca and Potatoes

Timber for the new barn

Welcome everyone! We try each year to give you a look behind the scenes, and a feel for the sorts of things that we've been up to over the season, and what Real Seeds is like - a lot goes on before the seed gets into its little packet and is sent out to you. So here's our annual "garden report / newsletter" with all the things that we have been doing at Real Seeds, including our trials and new crops to look out for in the next catalogue. We hope you enjoy it.

If you enjoy this newsletter, and use Facebook, you might like our facebook page which has updates throughout the year.

Ben & Kate, Newport , August 2013

If you have any comments or suggestions, its always nice to hear from you
and you can drop us an email to
(include your postcode so we know where in the country you are)

Kate with wheelhoe

Ben working on our 1950s rotavator

Felicia setting out peppers

A cold, late spring - but a better summer so far

After last year's spectacularly bad summer, and then a very late spring this year, it sometimes feels surprising that you don't all give up growing vegetables entirely. Fortunately, here at least, things started to warm up in late May, and while the heat lovers like melons were rather behind at the start of the summer the lovely warm spell in July got everything growing away nicely.

We're very happy to have one of our two new tunnels up and running, and it is completely packed full already. In fact Kate has just spent a day up there putting up stakes, string and canes to try to confine some of the more enthusiastic plants back to their allotted beds . . .

New tunnel was covered - but late frosts made it still a bit too cold to plant

Ben sorting out piping for irrigation (wearing his warmest boiler suit!)

Just starting to get going in Spring

Pest Control

So far we haven't had the invasions of slugs that we (and everyone else) suffered last year. There has been rather a lot of aphid pressure, and we've heard from other local growers that they are seeing the same problem, together with rather low ladybird populations (which usually keep the aphids in check). We had good results using parasitic biological controls - little tiny wasps that lay eggs inside the aphids - which we get from 'Defenders' every year.

We've realised also that we don't have any nettle patches near our new tunnel, so to help in the future, we'll be making sure to establish a small controlled patch somewhere nearby. Nettles are helpful in encouraging ladybirds, as they are a good place for them to lay their eggs, and also provide food (nettle aphids) early on in the season.

Feathered fiends

As ever the pigeons are keen to eat our cabbage and kale plants, so lots of the field is draped in netting - it doesn't look pretty, but if we can keep them covered for a month or so they should get established well enough to stand a certain amount of nibbling.


Rabbits and our neighbours' 400 marauding sheep are another pest problem for us. Ben and Felicia made quite a massive effort this winter rebuilding the hedgebanks round our fields, and then putting up sheep fencing, and finally rabbit fencing to keep out all the various animals that would like to eat our seedcrops.

It seems to be working well - we had a small panic when we spotted some digging, but after a little investigation realised that it was not rabbits, but our neighbour's new ginger Tom! We're happy to welcome him to our fields and have hopes that he'll help keep the mice safely away from our crops and hiding in the hedgerows.

Ground beetles, ducks and slug control

Fortunately so far this year there haven't been the mass invasions of slugs that were common all over the UK last season. Even so, it is always worth thinking about different ways to keep slug pressure down. One predator that doesn't get mentioned so often is the ground beetle. The idea of 'beetle banks' has been around for a while. On a large scale, these are strips of tussocky grass that run through the centre of a field, or on an allotment or garden scale, patches of long tussocky grass that don't get mown.

On our fields we've noticed that we have a really good population of ground beetles, and on the whole over the time that we've been in our current location, we haven't had too bad a problem with slugs. My feeling is that the ground beetles are definitely contributing to keeping them in check.

If you want a more extreme - but highly effective - slug patrol, and you have the time and resources to look after them, think about getting some Khaki Campbell or Indian Runner ducks. Providing they are pure-bred, and have been brought up right from the start to feed on slugs & other insects (and not vegetation), these two varieties will keep your plot pretty much entirely clear of slugs, and not touch your vegetables at all.

You need to get ducklings either from someone who has parent ducks who roam free in a garden without harming the plants (the ducklings will have learnt their feeding habits from their parents), or alternatively get day-old ducklings and rear them yourself, offering tiny slugs as an addition to their crumbs once they are old enough to eat them without risk of choking.

Of course although ducks are a lot more work than ground beetles, they do have the advantage of laying eggs - Khaki campbells in particular are very good layers, and their eggs make excellent cakes.

Changes to the new Catalogue next year.

We are always searching for new interesting varieties, which we then try out to see if they're actually any good - and each year we also take a look at our selection and see if there are any obvious gaps, that could be filled with new vegetables for you to grow.

New Endives & Chicory

A year or so back we realised that over time our selection of chicories and endives has fallen off, so this year we decided to look out for some exciting new ones to trial. We have found a good red heading one, green heading one, a sugarloaf type, a truly strange lumpy one and a spiky one now included in the catalogue, and we think you'll find them a good addition to your winter and summer salads.

Root Chicory: There will also be one slightly more unusual new chicory in the new catalogue. 'Chicory di Chiavari' is grown for the long white roots. These can be used raw in salads, and also cooked in stir fries or mixed roasted vegetables.

Normally these are harvested from autumn into winter, although we were very impressed to find that our trial plot had already made edible-sized roots by the start of august!

We've found lots of people enjoy the slightly more unusual root vegetables (our root parsley is always very popular), especially as they make an nice change in winter.

New Cucumbers

We also have several new cucumbers for you to try out. We're particularly excited about a new variety Poona Kheera (aka cucumber from Poona in India). This can be eaten one of two ways - you can harvest pale green baby 'lunchbox' cucumbers or, alternatively, you can let them grow to full size when the skin starts to turn a pretty golden brown and the flesh becomes unusually sweet and tasty.

All being well, we should have enough seed to include in the paper catalogue this autumn - if not, look out for it on the website, we should definitely have at least a few packets this year, and more in 2015 when we grow it out again.

Other new cucumbers include Longfellow, which has fruits up to 12" long with quite a smooth skin, Early Fortune, which is a smaller slightly rough skinned cuke, and Boothby's Blonde which has pretty pale skin and is picked as a baby cucumber around 4" long.


Early Fortune

Boothby's Blonde , perfect for lunchboxes.


People sometimes write to us asking whether they need to remove male flowers from their cucumbers.
The short answer is No.
You definitely don't want to remove male flowers from our varieties. If you do, you won't get any fruit.

The confusion arises because with old style 'greenhouse' (indoor only) cucumbers, people do pick off male flowers. All outdoor/ridge varieties of cukes needed to be pollinated to set fruit, so the flowers were left on them.

But as we say, our varieties - which incidentally are good indoors or out - should never be de-maled. They have all been very carefully chosen for ease of growing - just leave them be and let them get on with it!

Runner beans

We're still working on bulking up the old runner variety "René's Mungils" that Felicia collected in France, and which we mentioned in the newsletter last year. The trials to date have gone well, and we were very pleased with the yield given the really bad season in 2012.

This year we've started with a good large number of beans, on a huge run of bean poles (120 ft), so there may well be a few packets available on the website in late autumn. Otherwise watch out for it in 2015 - its a slow process getting things to the catalogue!

In the meantime, we had a small number of trial packets of 'Greek Gigantes 'this spring, and we will have more for the 2014 catalogue.

This variety comes from northern Greece, and has been bred to have huge seeds, which are used in a whole range of delicious dishes.They are quite remarkable, huge - really twice the size of most runner bean seeds, and very tasty.

Gigantes seed (L)
versus normal runner beans (R)

Gigantes Bean salad with olive oil and lemon

New orientals for 2014

This was Ben's project, to find yet more funky & exciting oriental vegetables. We have a really great collection of these now, and are really enthusiastic about encouraging everyone to grow more of them, because they are so incredibly quick and easy to grow, giving a huge yield from a small space, and with an amazing range of colours and flavours to perk up your meals.


80 Green Days

Hon Tsai Tai

If you are inspired to give them a go, then just after midsummer is the traditional time to sow orientals, as they do well in days that are getting shorter. So probably right now (if you are reading this in late summer when we publish this newsletter) would be a perfect time to plant them.

We also search and try for varieties that have been bred for sowing at other times of year, the Welcome above is a good example of a modern variety that can be sown in early Spring as well, as it has been bred to be less sensitive to daylength.

We have always done an 'Oriental Explorer' collection of seeds for people to try out, but now we have so many new ones, we thought we might put together a bigger selection, with some of the more unusual varieties added as well. Look out for a new 'Oriental Grand Tour' seed collection this winter.

Changes on the Land in 2013

The New Polytunnels - one is up!

When we wrote last year's summer garden report we had just been granted planning permission for two polytunnels and a barn for drying seed and storing machinery, and had done the groundwork to create two huge flat terraces for the polytunnels to sit on.

Since then, the endless wet last summer and autumn slowed down progress, but we did manage to get the first polytunnel up and running ready for sowing this spring. The tunnel is 21 metres long, and 6m wide, so that's a fantastic amount of indoor growing space we now have available.

Last year - making the site level.

This spring - Kate slotting a hoop onto the base rail

Finished just as the sun came out.
The second tunnel will wait for now!

Putting the tunnel up was quite a challenge - although we've put up tunnels before, these new ones have adjustable ventilation netting all the way along one side, with a curtain that can be wound up & down to control the airflow.

Tomatoes(L) and golden beet (R) for seed in the tunnel.
Ventilation mesh visible down the right side.

So it was rather different from the usual system of digging a trench and burying the plastic. It took lots of adjustment to get the plastic really taut, but now it is all in place we are really pleased with the result.

The extra ventilation really does make a difference in regulating the temperatures and stopping things overheating, especially with the help of our fancy automatic top vents at each end.

We made these using heavy duty greenhouse vent openers, and they open and close all by themselves according to temperature. It is a purely mechanical process (there's no electricity on site) and works really well.

30 tons of locally-grown Larch arrive,
for the barn frame
& cladding.

The New Barn

The site is all prepared for polytunnel number two, but before we put it up, we are starting work on the barn, which is likely to take up all of our spare time for the next year or so.

We already have a huge pile of Larch trees from a local plantation waiting for Adrian to come with his mobile sawmill and cut them up into beams and planks for the main body of the barn.

As we write this, the builders have just started to lay the foundations for the barn. There will be a traditional 'root cellar' underneath it, for storing biennial seedcrops safely out of the frost, and then a large threshing floor with a smooth polished concrete surface so it is easy to sweep clean in between crops.

Once they have done the foundations, we will take over, and construct the barn ourselves - it will be made from local wood all cut and milled on site. Hopefully by the time you get the 2014 newsletter it will be mostly finished.

In the mean time we made a scale model to check the framing plan worked properly - here you can see it being put together on our coffee table.

8am Friday:
Digging out the Root Cellar.

4pm Saturday:
Barn foundations now in place

8am Sunday(!):
Starting to lay the block walls for the Cellar

All our Trees

The 2000 trees that we planted on our land over the last couple of years have established pretty well (they were the one thing that was grateful for all the wet last summer), with about a 95% survival rate - we'll replant the failed ones this coming winter.

So for the moment the main task in that part of the fields is just periodic mowing and clearing to make sure they don't get overwhelmed by bracken or brambles. One type of tree that has done really well on our somewhat exposed site and acid soil is Alder, many of which are taller than Ben already.

And our apple trees are bearing their first crop. Ben has (somewhat optimistically) his eye on a massive cider press
to install in the corner of the barn when it is finished . . .

Hedgebanks & fencing

As already mentioned, we have worked hard to finish the boundary fencing on the lower parcel of land ('Oakfield'). This was a major springtime job, and involved rebuilding quite a few bits - about 50m - of traditional hedgebank, with dry-stone facing, & turf on top. Then along the top of that is new sheep-netting, with locally-sourced hand-cleft oak posts, all braced in the proper fashion. The fence should outlast us!

New Terraces

Our land is quite sloping, and we were very lucky to gain a large amount of clean topsoil from an archaeological dig in town. We've used that to make two new flat areas on both Plumfield and Oakfield.

The biggest terrace in about 120ft by 30ft, so its a really good amount of extra growing space. And as soon as we finished, some friends came and played football on it , which firmed the soil up nicely before we sow it with clover as a cover crop until we are ready to use it.

A quick word about Squash seedsaving

Squashes and courgettes are great vegetables to save seed from, particularly the squashes as with a bit of care you can eat your seed crop while generating enough seed for all your friends. You do need to be careful that your squashes don't cross though, as they are insect pollinated and if you get it wrong you can end up with horrible lumpen marrow-things. We provide lots of information about how to do this on the printout that comes with your order, and there are pictures at the bottom of the winter squash page on the website.

plant pictureplant pictureplant pictureplant picture

One additional helpful thing to know, though, is that there are actually several different species of squash, and that these species won't cross with each other. There are two species commonly grown in the UK, Cucurbita pepo and Cucurbita maxima, and a further species Cucurbita moschata which is sometimes grown. A final species, Cucurbita mixta (aka C. argyrosperma) is rarely grown outside of the Americas.

Cucurbita pepo includes courgettes, most summer squashes, most classic jack o'lantern type pumpkins and a few types of winter squash such as acorn. Cucurbita maxima includes the hubbard squashes, buttercup squashes and the majority of the winter storage varieties that you're likely to come across.

The Cucurbita moschata varieties don't on the whole do as well in Britain, as they really prefer hotter and sunnier conditions than we tend to see most summers. The only moschata variety generally grown here is Butternut, where there are a few early and cool-weather tolerant strains that will grow well.

This means that, for example, if you are absolutely certain that your neighbours aren't growing any winter squashes, only courgettes, you could grow a C. maxima variety like the Vine Buttercup squash, and save seed without needing to isolate the flowers.

You'll find species information for your seeds on the back of your seed packet, at the bottom of the label near the seed lot number, but if you have any questions about this (or other seedsaving queries) just drop us an email.

Changes at the Office

The Old School.
Real Seeds is now at Units 1,2 & 4.

Furniture being moved into the new office.

New Office Space!

Those of you who know us from before will remember that our office - where we keep the seed and make up all your orders - is in business units provided by the Council in a converted school.

Last year we leased an extra unit to store our bulk seed in, but this year we have done even better. Our old office unit was perfectly functional, but quite dark and small, so when the upstairs of the building also became vacant this spring, we jumped at the chance and have just signed a lease for a beautiful new room with loads of windows and space for everyone to work in.

Right now the phone and computer networks are all done (all using recycled cable, abandoned in the loft by the previous tenant) and we are just working on putting up new expanded seed racks, as we have so many new varieties in the catalogue.

The way it works is that we have 50m of shelves, with little bins holding each type of seed. Whoever is packing the orders walks along picking out the right packets and putting them in your envelope.

Seed packing

Most of our seeds are packed in to their packets by hand using sets of home made brass scoops (you can see pictures and more description in last year's newsletter). These are pretty accurate, and will measure to within a fraction of a gram.

Some seeds though are really rare and precious - like tomatoes and peppers - and these need to be counted individually. Those have always been a bit more of a challenge.

To try to make things easier for the seed packers, we now have bought a new seed counting machine, made in Switzerland, which will count out exact numbers of seeds, regardless of how small they are. It is quite incredible, vibrating the seeds up a spiral ramp and out a spout, through a light-beam that counts them and shuts off the flow after a set number have been dispensed.

Earlier in the year Ben had made a nice hardwood workbench for the orders to be packed at, and he used the remaining wood to make a matching stand for the seed counter to sit on, with polished copper spouts that you can clip the seed bags onto. In this way Heather & Jemma can pack about 180 packets of tomato seed an hour, accurate to about +/- 1 seed.

Jemma with trial giant sunflower variety "Sunzilla"

New things under trial this year

This is where you can see a sneak preview of what might be in the catalogue in the future. We're always trying out new varieties, and if any are really good, then they get put into production in years to come.

Many of the crops mentioned here will take several years to make it into the catalogue (if they aren't rejected en route), but we like to give you a flavour of what we are trying out.

Trial Tomatoes

Although we always have too many tomato varieties, we are still tempted by new ones. One that we're very happy to be trialling this year is Skykomish, which is supposedly strongly resistant to late blight. It will take us a few seasons to get a feel for how it performs for us, and whether it grows well outdoors in Wales, but we will keep you updated.

This year our most odd variety is Farenheit. At this early stage the fruits are really very distinctly blue coloured - and then they later ripen to an incredible cherry red. We might have a very few packets available on the website from these trial plants, but it will definitely be grown out for 2015.

Our final new tomatoes (and we really aren't meant to be adding any more to our list!) come from a trip Kate made to Seville in April. She ran into a small seed growers' stall on a farmers' market, with lots of traditional old Spanish varieties. The descriptions sounded so good that she couldn't resist bringing home a few packets just to see how they grow here.

Farenheit Blues tomato beginning to ripen

Skykomish tomato - is it truly blight resistant?

Taiwanese leaf green 'Balt'

Grain crop Cañihua

Unusual "Chenopods" Trial

Our quinoa (Chenopodium quinoa) varieties, and also our huauzontle / Aztec broccoli (Chenopodium berlandieri) are always very popular.

Theses are all from the same family of plant, the "chenopods". They seem like a great deal. Our experience of them is that on the whole they grow easily, don't seem to suffer from many pests, and generally appreciate the UK's cooler wetter summers.

Given this, Kate thought it would be worth investigating if there were any other related plants that we could try out. She investigated the accessions held by various genebanks and found a couple of different species that look like they might be interesting, giving us two new crops to trial this year.

Chenopodium pallidicaule, known as Cañihua or Kañiwa, is a grain crop related to quinoa grown in Peru and Bolivia. It is a much smaller, more 'weedy' plant, but it is interesting because the seeds have less of the soapy coating that covers quinoa. This is very much an experimental crop for us, and it is quite possible that it won't even flower and set seed here in the UK, but we have samples of several different varieties and are pleased with their progress so far.

Chenopodium formosanum, known as Balt, is a leaf green grown in Taiwan. Again, this is an experimental crop, but so far our view is that the plants are exceptionally pretty, and they may have potential as a vegetable that will also fit well in a decorative planting scheme.

"Hi. I am a Shetlander and was wondering if you would like to add our Shetland Kale to your trials.

It is very hardy for exposed areas and has good resistance to rootfly compaired to other brassicas.

Please let me know if you would like a sample of seeds" - Amy R

New Shetland Kale trial

Kale is one of our favourite vegetables - easy to grow, tastes good, and there to pick all year round - and perfect for home gardeners because it yields so well from a small space.

One of our most popular varieties over the years has been the Sutherland kale from the north of Scotland, so we were rather excited when Amy Ratter offered us some seed of us some of her Shetland kale to try out.

We have a good patch growing away now, and it is absolutely beautiful, with glowing green leaves and purple veins. We'll keep you posted on hardiness, taste, and overall progress for us here in Wales.

Chocolate flowered broad beans breeding project

Another long term project here is a very unusual broad bean with dark chocolate-brown flowers. The original seed was sent to us by customer Nick Totton, who found them as a sport of the heritage Crimson flowered variety and has done some initial breeding work.

We're now working to stabilise them and select the best flower colour. (Just to point out, it will be several years before we have seed available, this sort of thing is a long term project!) They're really beautiful, though, and we're looking forward to developing the variety in the future.

In a nutshell, what we do is end up with the seed from each plant growing in a separate row, and then look for a row with only the right colour flowers. That hopefully is the pure-breeding line. It's never quite that simple in practice, but that is the overall mechanism.

An isolation cage
in the tunnel
(stops vareties crossing)

Lurking inside the cage
- Hebar peppers!


Although peppers come from a much hotter climate, if you can find the right varieties they can perform very well in the UK, and they are so delicious that it is worth putting in the effort to get a good crop. So we are constantly searching for new additions to our selection of unusually early and productive pepper varieties.

We have a new Basque Chilli Pepper this season which we are really looking forwards to tasting - it came to us from an elderly French couple who come originally from the Basque country, but have been growing it in the Ariège region of France for many years. It is reputedly early (it is definitely living up to this so far, with big green peppers already formed), distinctly spicy but not excessively hot, and very good flavoured.

Our other new variety this year is a chilli originally from Tunisia, where it is used in making Harissa paste. We really love harissa, so are hoping that this one does well in the UK as well as in more sunny parts of the world.

New herbs - and more achocha

The last - but definitely not least - new thing in our trials this year is a herb that we have never tried before. Huacatay is a Peruvian herb which is used in making a paste to flavour many different dishes. So far we only have two plants growing, so we haven't tried eating any, but it smells amazing and we're looking forwards to growing much more in the future.

As a little extra alongside the huacatay, we also have a couple of new achocha varieties that we've not grown before - they're looking very promising in that they're growing fast and have flowered earlier than we would expect.


New achocha in the tunnel

New endive 'Bellesque'


We really enjoy seeing the garden photos that people send us showing how their crops are doing. So, just for a bit of fun, we thought we'd run a couple of photo competitions.

This competition is for a photo of you with your crops that you've grown either from our seed, or even better, from your own saved seed. It can be serious art or a silly snap - you can pose aesthetically with your cabbages or comically brandish your leeks - it doesn't matter as long as we can see you enjoying your veg. Give us a caption for the photo. And tell us a bit about why you like the variety, how long you've been growing it - and a bit about its history if its from your own saved seed (is it a family heirloom?).

There's a small prize of a £25 seed voucher plus a seedsaving book for the best photo, with two £15 vouchers for the runners up, and we'll post all the best photos here on our website. Send your photos to

The closing date for both competitions is the 1st December, 2013 (so that you can include your harvest photos too!), and we will notify winners before the end of December.

Children's Gardening

If you have young children, have a look at our daughter Josie's gardening blog.

Josie has had her own garden (with a bit less help from us each year!) since she was 5. To start with she just grew flowers, and she still has lots of cottage garden flowers for cutting, but now she also has a few favourite vegetables that she likes to grow.

This summer, she decided to write a gardening blog to encourage other children to have a go at growing their own veggies. Here's her introduction:

"I enjoy gardening and think that more children should garden, which is why I am writing this set of easy to follow instructions.
I am going to show you how to grow four very easy plants –marigolds (calendula), dwarf French beans, dwarf peas and radishes. I will also show you how to grow exploding cucumbers, which are a little bit harder but very fun."

PHOTO COMPETITIONS - (2) Childrens' Own Garden

If your children already have their own plot, they might like to enter our children's garden competition.

If you're under 16, and have your own patch for veg or flowers, email us a photo of your garden, and tell us your name, age and a little bit about it (for example how long you've been gardening, what you like to grow best). The picture can include you, in which case someone else can take it, or just be of your plants (in which case you should take it yourself).

Again the closing date is the 1st December 2013, and there will be a small prize of a £20 book token for the winning garden, plus a £10 book token for the runner up. We'll post a selection of the best gardens submitted here on the website.

Small grants for land based projects needing support

We know that there are lots of great voluntary projects out there - over the years we have heard from community gardens, school gardening projects, therapeutic farming/horticulture groups and lots of other different organisations.

People often write to us asking for out-of-date seeds for free, but that really doesn't work - if the seeds are any good, then we need them for the catalogue, and if they're no good, then no-one should be wasting their time sowing them, especially not hard-pressed community groups and voluntary organisations. So that's always been hard to solve.

Then came the financial crisis. The government handed over all our tax and pension money - over £2000 per man woman and child - to the bankers to cover their gambling losses and is now cutting everything in sight to pay for it. In the resulting ideologically-driven climate of so-called public austerity (how about a bit of austerity for the privately-owned banks?) we realise that things are particularly hard for voluntary groups, so we have decided to put aside some money from Real Seeds to make a small number of donations to projects in need of help.

If you are part of a voluntary group or project that is in need of support, send us an email telling us about who you are, what you do, and what you need. We will award a few donations of seeds, gardening/seedsaving books and / or up to £200 in cash for materials, tools etc. Note we are unlikely to be able to help everyone as unsurprisingly our funds are limited too!

And speaking of Cuts...

There's a broad-based group of people across all party lines who are organising protest against the endless cuts, closures and privatisations in the name of 'austerity'. The losses of private corporations and bankers shouldn't be paid for by taxpayers. Check out

Ben on Hybrid Seed and growing your own food

Last year Austrian film-maker and author Clemans Arvay travelled round Europe interviewing people for his new book about the food system. He made a really nice film of his interview with Ben, and this explains in greater detail Ben's thinking about what is wrong with hybrid seed and mass-produced industrial agriculture.

Ben starts off pointing out that we've been doing agriculture for eleven thousand years, but have only in the very very recent past thrown away our traditional knowledge and seedsaving skills.

To try and put this timeline into some sort of perspective, imagine that 11 thousand years was a a line starting outside the farmhouse several fields away, and running up to where Ben is sitting. At the start, across the fields, is 11,000 years ago when agriculture was invented. And as you come towards where he is sitting, you are coming forwards in time to the present day.

So for 11,00 years we have invested generations and generations of work into our food crops, with each person saving their seed and passing it on to their children & friends. We did this for thousands and thousands of years. But all that stopped with the advent of industrial agriculture, hybrid seed, and fossil-fueled supermarket-driven food chains - and this is only in the last few centimetres of our timeline.

Look around you at the way the land is being used and how this is powered. Do we really think this can continue for another 11,00 years? Neither do we -this is why we do Real Seeds and give you seed saving instructions with every packet.

Don't worry about the German subtitles - the film is in English!


Our annual reminder to gardeners - to avoid getting a huge glut in summer,
and then nothing to eat later in winter, it is important to spread out your sowing over the year.

To help you plan your garden over the summer, we have a summer sowing guide, and also a less detailed month by month sowing guide that goes right through the year.

That's it for this year... until the new catalogue:

The new 2014 catalogue will come out in late November - there are some really great new varieties in it, and we hope you'll enjoy it.

You'll get a copy automatically if you bought seed by post in the past year, and if you ordered over the internet you'll get an email letting you know when its available. So just to be clear:

If you ordered seed by post:

You'll get posted a paper catalogue automatically and you do NOT need to request one.

If you ordered seed online:

You'll just get an email telling you the new catalogue is online. If you want a paper copy, you'll have to request one from the website.

We hope you have a really good gardening year and that you manage to save some of your own seed at home, and perhaps even start breeding your own varieties.

Ben & Kate, August 2013 (with lots of help from Catherine, Felicia, Heather, Jemma, Chloe, and Tam.)

Kate in the office.

Heather packing seed.

Ben harvesting tomatoes

(If you've enjoyed this newsletter and you're new to Real Seeds,
you might like to have a look back at our earlier newsletters which have lots of articles and some nice recipes in them too.)