Germinating our next Seed List

Preparations for our 2024 Heritage Seed Library Seed List have already begun – as we offer a sneak preview of up-and-coming varieties
Pairs of black seeds separated by tissue in a plastic tub.
Our heritage seeds are rigorously tested to see if they will grow well for members

Planning for the next seed list, usually begins just after we’ve put the last one to bed! It’s an ongoing and careful process of selection, growing and testing to get the best possible seeds to members.

Seed Officer Lucy Shepherd has been testing the germination rates of some of the varieties that will go into the next seed list. We have very high standards when it comes to seeds, and only choose those that offer an excellent chance of germinating for our members.

“I test a sample of the seeds on moist filter paper in sealed containers and they are kept either at room temperature (in darkness or light depending on the seeds preferences), or in an incubator at 20 degrees,” says Lucy. “They are checked at regular intervals and the number that have germinated is recorded to give a total germination percentage. It’s a long and slow progress, but worth it for the end result!”

Here’s a preview of some of the varieties that might make our Heritage Seed Library 2024 Seed List:

  • Aubergine New York Round Purple

We think this variety was grown as early as the 1870s. It produces large, pale lilac flowers followed by dark purple fruits. Eat them young and while still nicely round, to get the best flavour.

  • Dwarf French bean Pisarecka Zlutoluske

Thought to be a Hungarian heirloom, this early bean is tolerant of colder temperatures and very productive for its size (<60cm). White flowers are followed by an abundance of slim, yellow pencil pods that can be picked at any size. They are always delicious.

  • Leek Longa

An early maturing variety ready to eat in September or October. Produces light green leaves and exceptionally long stems (>40cm). The HSL characterisation notes describe it as "huge"! Can be susceptible to rust towards the end of the year, so best eaten in early autumn.

  • Leek Longa HSL Variety
  • Seeds inside a petri dish being tested for germination
  • Aubergine New York Round Vareity