BBC Countryfile and RHS Chelsea Flower Show presenter, James Wong says traditional methods concentrate on improving yields and reducing pests – but don’t worry about taste. He says after trialling hundreds of varieties of plants he has found the tastiest and most nutritious. The tomatoes he recommends have 50% more vitamin C, chillies twice the fire and strawberries 100 times the smell of average types.
His book, Grow for Flavour (Mitchell Beazley £20) has rushed to the top of the Amazon gardening charts when it came out in March 2015. Wong has been described as the Jamie Oliver of gardening by Fiskars’ tools John Grayson, for his ability to bring in new people to the sector. James is fronting the Fiskars brand, as well as working for Sutton’s Seeds and QVC skincare brand Liz Earle at Ventnor Botanic Garden on the Isle of Wight.
The TV gardener is set to redesign an area of up to 1.4 hectares at the garden featuring plants used in Liz Earle. Royal Botanic Garden Kew-trained James said: “This botanic garden gives me more opportunities to do exciting things than I could ever do at Kew.”
James’ top varieties to grow
- Tomato F1 ‘Flamingo’, which he says has a “super sweet kick”
- Tomato F1 ‘Brandy Boy’ – has a “rich flavour”
- Mangetout ‘Golden Sweet’ –“sweet tasting and abundant”
- Carrot F1 ‘Rainbow’ “delicious roots in an array of shades”
- Strawberry ‘Candy Cane’ “ideal for hanging baskets and packing powerful flavour punch”
- Strawberry ‘Mara des Bois’ “Candyfloss, almost bubblegum flavour”
- Strawberry ‘Honeoye’ “perfect for jam making”