The Seed Detective - Uncovering the Secret Histories of Remarkable Vegetables

Published on 29th September 2022, signed and personalised copies are available to order now

After a lifetime of growing vegetables, collecting rare and endangered varieties whilst travelling the world for work and pleasure, and saving them to share with others including displaced people wishing to reconnect with growing familiar crops, this is a book that tells the stories of how the vegetables we often don’t think about or simply take for granted journeyed from wild parent to cultivated offspring and found themselves at the very centre of our food culture.

Ever wonder how peas, kale, asparagus, beans, squash and sweetcorn ended up on our plates? Well, so did I.

My passion for collecting and growing unusual vegetables was ignited when I tasted an unusual sweet pepper with a fiery heart while on a film-making project in Ukraine. Smitten, began to seek out local growers of endangered heritage and heirloom varieties in a mission to take home seeds to grow and share so that I could enjoy their delicious taste – and save them from being lost forever.

We are a nation of vegetable growers and this book explores the wonderful world of rare and endangered heritage and heirloom vegetables – and why we must keep growing them and saving their seed, not only for our gardening and culinary pleasure, but to pass these stories on – vegetables are truly our history on a plate.

Also available in the U.S.A and Canada

The covers may be different but the content is the same.

In The Seed Detective, I share my own stories of seed hunting, with the origin stories behind many of our everyday vegetable heroes. Taking us on a journey that began when we left the life of the hunter-gatherer to become farmers, I tell tales of globalisation, political intrigue, colonisation and serendipity – describing how these vegetables and their travels have become embedded in our food cultures.

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Seed Detective Twitter

Sometimes I simply let plants drop their seed where they will and see what happens. This parade of poppies is the result of pure neglect!! They delight every year. How they arrived I know not but I am mighty glad they have made the path around the house home


Saving seed of the leek Autumn Late Giant. It’s a commercial variety and I harvest through to early April. Kept back a dozen plants for seed. Soon the bees will be all over the attractive flowers and I will collect seed in the autumn

I love saving carrot seed. These @HeritageSeedsUK Red Elephant are an ex-commercial Australian variety. Such lovely flowers too


Time to lift my Omani garlic I discovered on the Sayiq plateau in 2010. Pungent, early, great fresh and very happy in Wales😋😋. Will plant for 2023 in October


This is the second of my early dwarf French beans, Blue Jay. A Canadian heirloom widely cultivated it was the result of accidental crossing in 1978 and subsequently shared @SeedsDiversity heavy cropping, scrumptious and compact so great for small spaces

I’m having this little darling for supper tonight. The first of my Syrian cucumbers from seed I brought back from Damascus in 2011. Simply the best. Once tasted no other comes close 😋😋