The Seed Detective - Uncovering the Secret Histories of Remarkable Vegetables

Order your signed and personalised copy here

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.


Takes [the] readers on a journey around the world and through time …written with such enthusiasm it will make you want to become a seed saver – Dan Saladino book of the year The Food Programme BBC Radio4

Possibly the most important and inspirational book about gardening that you’ll ever read Lynne Allbutt, Western Mail

The writing is rich, demonstrating his deep integration into the world of seed seekers… a clarion call to think about our food in new ways and to carefully consider where it comes from – Chris Stokel-Walker New Scientist

He’s an entertaining storyteller, full of quirky encounters… Alexander’s descriptions just make you want to try them yourself … towering Luang Prabang mangetouts, Lamon beans and dauntingly named ‘Bloody Warrior’ lettuces.  It’s down to people like Alexander that I can still get hold of  seeds.  I’m profoundly grateful. Sally Nex, Gardens Illustrated


Live in the UK and would like a signed or personalised copy for £14.25 plus £3.95 p&P (total £18.20), you can buy my book directly here

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Or do think of supporting your local bookshop who will gladly take an order from you.

Live in the U.S.A. or Canada?  You can pre-order from 

If you live outside the UK or North America you can order from the book depository 

If you live in the EU and would like a personalised copy please email me for further information?

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