We live quite close to the Franchi Seeds of Italy warehouse. They host open days from time to time, but for some reason we’ve never been. Well, we did today. We expected to stay for half an hour or so, but it was so friendly and so interesting that we lingered much longer than that.
One reason was that Paolo Arrigo, one of the owners of this family run business, also restores accordions, and when we arrived the warehouse was filled with music. He demonstrated one of his recent restorations.
The second reason was the huge amount of knowledge that Paolo and his family were keen to pass on, together with recommendations for seeds. He explained that most seeds sold in the UK come from China these days, and that the traditional European seed producers were gradually being squeezed out of business. But the vast majority of the Seeds of Italy range is still supplied by small Italian producers, who still respect regional traditions.
This is what we bought:
We were inspired to try maize again. We’ve grown American varieties in the past, but never had much luck. We’ve been tempted to try some new varieties of bean, including a curly-shaped one. We’re going to try okra, which we’ve never grown before. Paolo introduced us to a new (to us) variety of tenderstem broccoli:
It comes on 30-day, 60-day, and 90-day versions. We’ve gone for the slowest growing 90-day version, seeking quality of taste rather than sheer quantity of crop.
And we’re going to try growing onions from seed. We’ve always used sets before, but it doesn’t look too difficult, and it’s true that sets are not readily available other than for a few common varieties. So we’re branching out. This packet contains three different onions, white, yellow and red.
You can see Seeds of Italy’s online catalogue here Franchi. Well worth a browse! Oh, and Paolo will give a 30% discount to allotment associations for larger orders.