Varieties to grow and where to buy them

We were asked for a list of what we grow at Byther Farm. Wherever possible links are provided to help you find the same varieties to grow in your garden. We catagorise the plants into easy to find groups and included varieties to grow for different uses.

(Disclosure. Some of these are affiliate links. In other words, if you make a purchase we may earn a small commission. View our full disclosure statement)

Fruit and Nut Trees

Fruit trees form the backbone of our food forest, fruit garden and vegetable garden. These fruit bearing trees are the framework around which all the raised beds, vegetables, soft fruit, herbs and flowers grow. Trees provide visual impact, structure and a sense of permanence in a garden and fruit and nut trees offer the additional bonus of providing food too.

I chose which fruit varieties to grow by price of the plants, ease of sourcing the plants and certainly, by the taste of the fruit.

Apple

We eat masses of apples. I use them in cooked in desserts. However I also add them to many main courses to provide additional vitamins and minerals, their sweet and sharp taste and as a bulking agent to make meals go further. We currently grow and ​ Bramley’s Seedling Cooking, Cox’s Orange Pipin, Elstar, Jonagold

Apricot

This variety of apricot is supposed to do well in our climate, as yet we haven’t had any fruit from our tree. Bergeron

Blackthorn​

Grown in the hedges all around our site, it provides good shelter for birds and other wildlife and can produce sloes, which are used to flavour sloe gin.

Cherry

Morello, Stella

Damson and Wild Plum​
Elderberry

Sambuscus Nigra​ H

Hawthorn

The ripe fruits of the hawthorn can be used to make jellies and syrups and also in winemaking.

Hazelnut

Corylus Avellana

Mulberry

Morus Nigra

Peach

Peregrine

Pear

Conference, Doyenne du Comice, Williams

Plum

We grow plums for eating raw, for adding to fruit salads and for using in preserves and in particular in winemaking. They can also be cooked for use in desserts and puddings. Victoria, Opal

Quince

Grown for the perfumed fruits which need to be cooked before eating. They can enhance the flavour of cooked apples. Champion.

The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.

Chinese proverb
Elderflower blossoms in a basket.
Planting Fruit Trees
You can buy fruit trees all year round in pots or during the dormant period, late autumn and winter, as bare root trees – this option is often cheaper.​​
A little care and attention when planting trees will pay off.
Watch the video – How To Plant Fruit Trees

Soft Fruit

Blackcurrant

There are a vast number of varieties to grow. We chose a mix of varieties of blackcurrant to extend the harvesting season. Big Ben, Ben Logan, and a couple of unnamed varieties.

Blueberry

We have several blueberry bushes, the exact varieties are unknown, they were simply label early, mid and late season.

Gooseberry

Gooseberry is not my favourite soft fruit, but Mr J quite likes them, so I grow one variety at the moment. Invicta

Grape

White grape varieties Perlette

Honeyberry ​

An untidy shrubby bush that bears masses of small black elongated berries. I find honeyberries too tart to eat on their own, but they do add a depth of flavour when mixed with other berries.

Josterberry

A cross between a gooseberry and blackcurrant providing a sweeter berry with a mild gooseberry taste and pinkish purple blush to the skin.

Loganberry

Another cross between raspberry and blackberry. I use the elongated loganberry for jam and wine making.

Pheasant Berry

Lycesteria Formosa. Readily self seeds. An untidy bush that can be cut to the ground each year or left to grow taller. Birds love the berries.

Tayberry

Tayberry is another cross between raspberry and blackberry. I use the elongated berries for jam and wine making.

Thornless Blackberry

Oregon Thornless Byther Farm is surrounded by hedgerows bursting with wild blackberries, but the thornless blackberry is grown in the garden to provide a few more berries and a kinder way for the grandchildren to pick them!

Whitecurrant

The whitecurrants are used for making jelly, in sauces and also for topping yoghurt and cheesecake.

Crops like soft fruits are expensive to buy in store, but easy to grow at home and on the plot.

Soft fruit including strawberries, raspberry and blackcurrants.
Storing Soft Fruits
Soft fruits store well in the freezer, although due to the high water content strawberries tend to be very soft when defrosted. I collect and freeze as many soft fruits as possible and then use the winter months to make jams, jellies, ice-cream and wine with them.
Watch the videos – The Raspberry Collection

Perennial Vegetables

Angelica
A short-lived perennial that I have kept growing for longer by removing all the flowering heads. Angelica stems can be crystalised for use in decorating cakes and desserts.
Asparagus
We grow a selection of asparagus to provide a longer cropping season.
Guelph Millenium, Mondeo, Pacific Purple, Pacific 2000
Asturian Tree Cabbage
I like the taste of this Asturian tree cabbage, it has masses of huge paler green leaves.
Babington Leek

Grown for the edible leaves, the bulbous base may also be harvested when it gets large or has produced off-sets. From Incredible Vegetables.

Caucasian Spinach

Hablitzia Tamenoides from Incredible Vegetables. A climbing spinach growing to around 3m high, providing young leaves during the hungry gap of late spring.

Chinese Artichoke

Grown for the small cream colour tubers. These failed for us this year, but we will be trying again next year. I purchased tubers from Incredible Vegetables.

Globe Artichoke

Large architectural plant with silvery leaves, harvest the artichoke flower beds when small or leave to grow for the wild birds to eat.

Nine Star Broccoli

A sprouting broccoli that provides several cuts of flower heads.

Oca

Originating from the Andes, these small knobbly tubers have a slightly lemony flavour. Can be used raw, boiled or roasted.

Salsify

Grown for the roots, salsify has attractive purple flowers borne above straplike leaves. Self-seeds freely. I grew Sandwich Island.

Skirret ​

Sium sisarum from Incredible Vegetables. Grown for the white roots which are sweeter and more delicate in flavour than carrot.​ 

Taunton Deane Kale

Brassica oleracea var Acephal. Less troubled by pests than many annual brassicas, this kale can grow to 2 metres high and 2 metres wide. Roots readily from cuttings.

Walking Onion

Allium × proliferum. These onions reproduce by forming bulbils on the top of a stem which bends over and deposits the bubils on the soil around it.

Walking Stick Cabbage

The Jersey cabbage grows tall (3-6 metres) with a crown of leaves similar to kale. 

In mild areas, some vegetables that are usually grown as annuals may thrive as perennials.

Globe artichokes are perennial vegetables.
Perennial Vegetables
Some of these are short-lived perennials in the UK climate and other veg that are usually grown as annuals, like runner beans, may grow well as perennials.
Watch the videos – The Perennial Veg Collection

Annual Root Vegetables

Root vegetables are the mainstay of our winter vegetables. In the UK, winters are usually mild enough to allow most root veg to be stored in the ground and harvested as needed, saving storage space and time during the busiest harvesting period of late summer and autumn.

Beetroot

We eat a lot of beets, both the leaves and tops can be used. We like them as part of a tray of mixed roasted vegetables and I use beetroots of all colours to make relishes and chutneys. Albina, Boltardy, Burpees Golden, Chioggia, Cylindra

Carrot

Autumn King, Chantenay Red Cored 2, Cosmic Purple, Early Nantes 2, Solar Yellow, Rainbow Mix

Celariac

Giant Prague

Hamburg Parsley

Use the flat leaves as a herb during the summer and in the autumn lift the Hamburg parsley plant and use the roots as a tasty vegetable. We will be growing this again.

Parsnip

Tender and True


Swede, Rutabaga

Lomond​

Turnip

Purple Top White Globe, Snowball

Most root crops can be stores in the ground over the winter in the milder parts of the UK.

Carrot harvest from the garden.
Annual Root Vegetables
The mainstay of our winter vegetables are stored in the ground and harvested on the day we are going to eat them. My favourite ways of using root vegetables including a tray of roasted mixed root veg or a traditional Welsh soup called Cawl.
Watch the video – How To Make Cawl

Annual Brassicas

Plant a few sacrifice cabbages to support the butterfly population and keep your crops covered.

Rows of kale, cabbage and chard growing in the garden.
Annual Brassicas
I keep the brassicas covered with netting to help prevent damage by cabbage white and cabbage moth caterpillars. I plant a few spare plants in the flower border to help feed the wildlife population without our food crops being consumed by hungry caterpillars. 
Watch the videos – How To Grow Brassicas

Beans Peas and Sweetcorn

I prefer to grow vegetables for quality of flavor rather than quantity of harvest.

Varieties of French beans and podded beans.
Beans, Peas and Sweetcorn
I grow the runner beans as perennials, but sow a few extra seeds each year to replace any plants that haven’t made it through the winter.
Watch the videos – How To Grow Beans

Onions Garlic and Alliums

Autumn Planted Onion Sets Senshyu, Shakespere, Radar
I bought all my onion sets here.

Garlic Carcassonne, Early Purple, Germidour, Messidrome, Provence, Solent Wight
All the garlic sets were purchased on Amazon, for 2020 I have saved cloves to plant.

When onions are almost ready to harvest, I cut some of the leaves and chop them to freeze. They are perfect to add to omelette or stir-fry meals.

Strings of red onions and white onions.
Onions, garlic and alliums
I use a lot of onion flavours in the kitchen so having a selection of tastes is important to me.
Watch the videos –How To Make A String Of Onions

Potatoes and Tubers

  • Potatoes I grew a large selection of potato varieties including
  • Desiree, Marabel, Maris Piper, Picasso, Red Duke of York​​
  • Oca​ Unknown varieties, but they are white, yellow, pink and red varieties. Available at Real Seeds.​
  • Yacon Purchased from Real Seeds for 2019, I will be saving the growing tips from the crowns to replant for next year.

Our first year growing yacon, we like the taste of them grated into salads and I love their little yellow flowers.

Potatoes being harvested.
Potatoes and Tubers
I grew masses of potatoes in 2019, for next year I will grow fewer and use the space for other vegetables.
Watch the videos – How To Grow Potatoes

Salads and Leafy Vegetables

Growing ‘cut and come again’ lettuces means I can start harvesting earlier and continue for around 3 – 4 harvests.

Woman tending to salads growing in polytunnel.
Salads and Leafy Vegetables
I grew salads in the polytunnel and in the garden to extend the harvesting season. We will be eating freshly harvested lettuce and mustard leaves on Christmas Day!
Watch the videos – Winter Salads

Tomatoes and Aubergine – Egg Plants

Aubergine, Egg Plant Little Fingers
​​Tomatoes Cerise, Cherry (no further info on the seed packet), Golden Sunrise, San Marzano, Tigerella

In the polytunnel the sweetest tomato was the Golden Sunrise, the most prolific was Cerise.

Yellow tomatoes growing on their vine.
Tomatoes and Aubergine
I didn’t plan to grow any tomatoes this year, but a generous gift meant I could try out several varieties. Aubergines were also a first for our garden and I really enjoyed growing and eating them.
Watch the video – Seasonal Eating

Pumpkins and Squashes

Squash provides a welcome filling food in the depth of winter. It can be used for savory and sweet dishes.

Pumpkin and winter squashes on a table and the floor.
Pumpkin and squash
Once harvested, I cure the winter squash by allowing the skins to dry and harden in an airy room temperature place, like the kitchen table, once cured they can be stored in a cool, but not cold room for long periods.
Watch the videos – Easy Way To Grow More Squash On The Same Plant

Herbs

When choosing which herb varieties to grow, I picked some old favorites, some that are new to me including some herbs to use as a living mulch or ground cover.

Annual

Basil Genovese, Dill, Curled Parsley (which grows as a short-lived perennial in our garden), Flat leaf parsley, Feverfew

Perennial

Lovage, Sweet Bay, Rosemary, Thyme, Marjoram, Chives, Garlic Chives, Sweet Cicely, Bronze Fennel, French Tarragon, Winter Savoury.

Herbs can enhance the flavors of other foods and spice up a meal.

Herbs growing in garden.
Herbs
I have a raised herb bed close to the kitchen for the herbs that I use most often and also have plenty of herbs in the food forest and vegetable gardens. Some herbs I grow in larger quantities for inclusion in our CSA Veg Boxes.
Watch the video – 5 Easy Perennial Herbs

Edibles Flowers

A selection of the varieties to grow to add edible flowers to your meals. Care is needed to be sure that your choices are safe to eat, therefore please do your own research.

Flowers

Blue Borage, Calendula, Chives, Courgette, Zuchini, Lavender, Nasturtium, Pansy, White Borage

Flower Hips and Berries

​Blackthorn, Elderflower, Hawthorn, Roses

Flower Stems

Angelica, Soloman’s Seal (young growing tips can be eaten like asparagus)

Some traditionally ornamental plants have flowers, stems or fruits that are edible. They need careful research so that you don’t poison yourself.

Edible rose hips.
Edible Flowers
I was surprised by how many ornamental plants also have edible parts. Please be cautious and do careful research before you start!
Watch the videos – How To Grow Beans

For Wine Jam and Jelly

Fruit

Blackberry​, Damson, Elderberry, Plum, Raspberry, ​Rose Hips, Strawberry

​Vegetables

Beetroot, Rhubarb, Parsnip, ​Yacon

Simple country wines, jams and jellies are easy to make using very few ingredients.

Glass of beetroot wine.

For Bees

A selection of some of our favourite varieties to grow to support our bees throughout the year.

Flowers

Chives, Clover, ​Cosmos, Borage, Ivy, ​Mahonia

​Fruit

​All the fruit produce flowers, but we notice some are visited more than others, especially the early blossoms of damson, wild plum and elderberry and then the single open blooms of raspberries, blackberries and their various crosses.

Vegetables

​Angelica, Carrots, Runner bean White Lady, Greek Gigantes bean,
Pumpkin, squash and courgette or zuchini, ​Skirret, ​Sweet Cicely

Encouraging pollinators into the garden helps to increase yields of many fruits and vegetables. We grow some varieties purely to support the bee population.

Plants for bees
For The Bees
I try to ensure that there are some flowers available to the bees all year round.
Watch the videos – Harvesting Honey

Seed companies we use regularly

(Disclosure. Some of these are affiliate links. In other words, if you make a purchase we may earn a small commission. View our full disclosure statement)

Real Seeds

Vital Seeds

Tamar Organics

Premier Seeds Direct

Dobies