Genovese Basil is perhaps the most famous sweet basil variety in the world. Known for its use in pesto, its round leaves are dark green and appear more matte than those of its shinier cousin, Common Basil.
Thai Basil is a spicy, anise-liquorice flavoured basil. Thai Basil is widely used in the cuisines of Southeast Asia, including Thai, Vietnamese, Lao and Cambodian cuisines.
Lemon balm is higher in essential-oil content than other lemon balms. The list of reasons to love and grow lemon balm is endless – it has culinary, cosmetic and medicinal values, and a beautiful lemon scent. Very easy to grow.
Shiso, also known as ‘Japanese Basil’, raises a question with all who taste it: is it a basil or a mint? Neither one nor the other, Shiso has a unique taste that is hard to describe. Some say it’s ‘citrusy’, while others call it ‘herbaceous’ – and others still call it ‘sweet’! What is undisputable is that it can be used to give flavour and colour to many different Japanese dishes, from umeboshi to sushi and sashimi.
The Jalapeño chili is named after the city of Xalapa in Mexico, where the pepper was traditionally cultivated. Although they are usually eaten at the green stage, either fresh or pickled, the fruits ripen to red and are amazingly sweet when allowed to do so (Scoville units: 2.500-8.000).
Wildfire/Wasabi is a perennial variety of Wild Rocket, with deep green, serrated foliage that makes an attractive garnish for any dish and mesclun-style salad. An alternative to the usual Rocket, Wild Rocket has a distinctive wasabi taste and its young leaves can be picked in succession. The leaves impart a real “wow factor” on the tongue.
San Marzano tomatoes are, without doubt, gods of the tomato world. With its firm, thick flesh and sweet taste, this variety was found to be perfect for the manufacture and exportation of pelati (peeled, tinned whole tomatoes), which have become popular all over the world. Indeed, pizza and pasta would not be the same without these distinctive, pointy, bright-red fruits. And this dwarf, determinate edition is no less than a god in miniature!
Erfurter Orangefarbige is a variety of calendula bred specifically for its medicinal virtues. Although the whole plant has long been used as a culinary and medicinal herb, the bright orange flowers alone are recommended for kitchen use today, since the leaves are very bitter. The flowers are mild tasting and slightly sweet, and can be used both in savoury and sweet dishes – the nickname ‘pot marigold’ comes from its popular use in the soup pot. When dried, its petals, which have been called ‘poor man’s saffron’, can be used to create a natural dye or, funnily enough, in chicken feed to make egg yolks extra vibrant!
Roman Chamomile is a perennial, small and creeping plant with daisy-like flowers. The plant has a wonderful, sweet, fruity scent and is commonly used to make herbal infusions for medicinal uses.
Lavender is a perennial flowering plant native to the Mediterranean. Munstead Blue, in particular, is its compact, early blooming, English variety, with bluish-purple flowers above slender, aromatic, grey-green leaves. widely used in cooking as a condiment for salads, soups, stews. It provides a very aromatic flavour that is too strong to be used in large quantity. Its fresh or dried flowers are used to make tea, while the fresh flowers can be crystallized or added to jams, ice cream and vinegars. An essential oil is also made from the flowers for both culinary and therapeutic purposes.
Snapdragon Brighton Rock is an heirloom variety that comes with a lovely blend of pastel bi-coloured blooms. The common name snapdragon originates from the fact that the flower looks like a dragon’s mouth having its throat squeezed. If that’s not bizarre enough, the flower seed pods turn into creepy skulls when they die.
The Paris Market carrot, This ancient French root vegetable is actually perfect for contemporary needs: it does well where other carrots would struggle – for example in shallow, clay-rich or rocky soil. Even better, as the carrots grow just 5 cm in diameter, they’re a perfect choice for containers. What these small carrots lack in size, they make up for in flavour – they are deliciously tender, bite-sized, and extra sweet, with very smooth skin. They are a fantastic market seller and are very popular with kids because of their ping-pong-ball shape.