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December 5, 2012 Chase Organics No Comments
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Chase Organics has a long history of supporting organic gardening. 

Major LH Chase began the story in 1912, inventing cloches to protect his lettuces from the dirt and soot of the city, in the 1940’s visitors flocked to the protected growing seed trials in Chertsey, Surrey and the first Chase Seed Catalogue was published in 1945. For over 20 years, Chase Organics have produced The Organic Gardening Catalogue in partnership with Garden Organic, supplying seeds and supplies for organic growing.

 

We talked with Michael Hedges, Managing Director of Chase Organics and the Organic Gardening catalogue

 ‘When I started at Chase in 1983 you couldn’t buy certified organic seed for love nor money, there simply wasn’t anybody growing it on a commercial scale.  

 

 

‘Back in those days, our range of seeds was much smaller and concentrated mainly on old vegetable varieties, well known for their flavour and their proven suitability for garden use.

 

 ’Many of those were in the first Chase seed catalogue in 1945 and are still in it today, however a large number have disappeared as our sales were a drop in the ocean compared with the volumes needed to “maintain” a seed variety.  And of course the seed we sold was different as it was untreated, not blue, orange or pink – the chemical companies would have you believe that nothing would grow without a big dollop of fungicide!

The 2013 Organic Gardening Catalogue

The 2013 Organic Gardening Catalogue

 

 ‘Gradually over the last 20 years, organically grown seed has become more widely available, and now forms the backbone of our seed range.  When selecting seeds, sourcing organic varieties is my priority as I’m conscious that every packet of seeds we sell helps support an organic grower somewhere in the world.

 

 

‘We still offer untreated seed where its inclusion can be justified.  This might be a variety with very specific disease resistance or harvest period, it may be one of the old favourites, or it just has something different about it, for instance, a compact plant that will be happy growing in a pot.

 

 

 

‘I get recommendations from customers and also from the gardeners at Garden Organic and I’ll take these on board too when making decisions.  Customers like to share their experiences of which varieties grow well and will recommend varieties to us or ask us to source an organic version.  It’s very rare for me to drop a seed variety from our range.  Keeping continuity with familiar names is very important.  Most changes are brought about by crop failures or decisions made further upstream yet they present an opportunity to find something new for people to try.

Leek Musselburgh

Leek Musselburgh

 

 

‘Leek Musselburgh, Parsnip Tender and True and Carrot Chantenay are all examples of old organic garden varieties that we’ve been stocking for many years that have become ‘tried and trusted’ best sellers with our customers. 

 

‘Known as ‘Scotch Flag’, Leek Musselburgh was introduced in 1822, a broad leaved tall leek variety that is both reliable and versatile.

 

Carrot Chantenay 2012

Carrot Chantenay 2012

Parsnip Tender and True, introduced in 1897 is one of the best flavoured parsnips and has great resistance to canker whilst the well- known Carrot Chantenay dates even further back to 1830. With short, wedge-shaped roots and its distinct deep orange colour, Chantenay remains one of the tastiest carrots around.’

 

 Michael speaks very passionately about this coming year ‘We’re always excited when the new seed catalogue is launched and we can highlight our new additions.  This year, our lettuce selection in particular boasts some lovely new organic varieties including the very unusual Lettuce Freckles, Cos Lettuce Little Leprechaun, Batavia Lettuce Black Seeded Simpson and Butterhead Lettuce Edox.

‘We’ve also got some exciting organic tomato varieties available including the large, vigorous Red Brandywine (1885), the attractive dark red and sweet-tasting Cerise, and the beautiful Black Cherry with its deep purple colour skin when mature.’

We’re inspired by the organic approach and now have some varieties from the 2013 catalogue, we look forward to trialling them on our vegetable plots in the Spring.

 

 

You can contact Michael and his team at Chase Organics Ltd on 01932 253666, alternatively you can visit their Organic Gardening Catalogue website by clicking here

 

 

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