THE recent salad shortage underlined not only the value of domestic farming but more especially gardening.
There’s absolutely no doubt we in our gardens can produce fresher and tastier crops than a foreign tomato or a lettuce, no matter how quickly it’s flown or trucked here.
We also have the advantage of variety with literally hundreds of crops out there that the commercial boys, and girls, won’t touch for a variety of reasons.
One salad special I will be trying is a new lettuce from Mr Fothergill’s.
The seedsman’s small team of horticulturalists regularly visits the Netherlands on the look out for possible new introductions to its seed and plant ranges.
And it is usually brand new varieties that catch their attention.
But when they were travelling in the country’s southern islands in recent years, they heard of a butterhead lettuce developed and grown locally which had a lovely flavour and a real ‘melt in the mouth’ texture.
They learned a grower called Gustav used to save seed every year of the butterhead, which he would grow on and then sell as fresh salad to the villagers from his bicycle each summer.
The variety was known in the area as ‘Sla van Pa’ or ‘Pappy’s Salad’, and Gustav supplied his customers with his fresh lettuces for more than 40 years.
When the Fothergill’s team got to taste the popular strain, they were left in no doubt they wanted to offer the lettuce, subject to trialling it, back in the UK.
Mr Fothergill’s grew the variety on its Suffolk trial ground, where the team was once again impressed by the compact, fairly small heads with a soft texture and good flavour.
They then sought permission from the late Gustav’s daughter, Petra, to produce a seed crop in the Netherlands, to which she agreed.
Mr Fothergill’s is now exclusively offering seed of what it terms Gustav’s Salad, with a packet of 1,000 seeds priced at £1.99.
The company reports Gustav’s family have now been in touch to say they will be growing Gustav’s Salad again in 2017 — but this time from Mr Fothergill’s packets.
l Mr Fothergill’s Spring Planting 2017 catalogue can be obtained from, 0845 371 0518 or from Mr Fothergill’s, Gazeley Road, Kentford, Suffolk CB8 7QB.