Owl's Acre Seed

New Range of Chilli Seed

Elizabeth Crawford

Mark Rowland and Maggie Goodsell are the originators of Owl's Acre Seed, previously Owl's Acre Sweet Peas. I am grateful for our continuing business connections and their ongoing support and advice, gleened over many dedicated years of working with Sweet Peas. I have recently listed a range of chilli seed in the shop that has been bred and selected by Mark and Maggie's company, 'Gourmet Genetics', and we are offering some tomato varieties from them too. I've been meaning to put the chillies online for a while, and am really happy to now have ten of Gourmet Genetics selections available.

Mark's significant chilli program has involved trialling chillies from all over the world, to find those most suited to growing in the Northern European climate. His focus has been on determining those varieties with the most outstanding flavour. The chillies now available from Owl's Acre comprise three different cultivated species: Capsicum anuum, Capsicum baccatum and Capsicum chinense, as well as 'Lancer', a cross between C. anuum and C. frutescens. All the species originate in Central and South America, and comprise fruits with a wide varieties of flavours, colours and forms: from sweet bell peppers (C. anuum) to fruity, mild chillies (C. baccatum) and the more fiercely hot and pungent varieties (C. chinense and C. anuum).

All the varieties on offer here are suitable for Northern European cultivation, where they generally perform as annuals (though most are technically perennial in their native climates). Ideally chilli seed should be sown mid-February, and kept at a temperature of around 24 degrees or warmer for germination. They can then be kept slightly cooler, between 20 and 24 degrees, with plenty of light. As the plants become established the temperature can gradually be decreased. They can be grown in  pots or in the soil. 

Recording the Harvest

Elizabeth Crawford

Podding 'Olive D'

This year I have been joined in the polytunnel by documentary photographer Tessa Bunney, who is working on a series about British flower farming for an upcoming exhibition, Farmer Florist. It is exciting to have such a careful focus brought to bear on the processes of seed growing, and has helped my own appreciation for this work. Harvesting and podding can seem laborious, but there is also a meditative element, and a joy in preserving all these precious seeds that will bring beauty to gardens in future seasons. You can see more of Tessa's work on her website: http://www.tessabunney.co.uk/ or instagram: https://www.instagram.com/tessabunney/


New Foxglove: 'Digitalis Limoncello'

Elizabeth Crawford
'the flowers are a very attractive light creamy yellow which are a joy to behold in a shady spot in the evening light of early summer.'

'the flowers are a very attractive light creamy yellow which are a joy to behold in a shady spot in the evening light of early summer.'

Digitalis Limoncello is a new foxglove bred by our colleague Maarten van der Saar. Both delicate and striking with its luminous pale yellow flowers, 'Limoncello' was Chelsea Plant of the Year finalist at this years flower show.

Our Digitalis varieties should be sown in September/October for flowers next spring. Sow on the surface of moistened compost and place inside a propagator or cover with a sheet of glass or plastic in a warm spot. Keep a close eye on the seed tray and bring into a shady pace and keep moist after germination. It will take about three weeks to see some evidence of germination. When the plants are large enough to handle transplant into small pots and grow on in a cold greenhouse or cold frame. Our Digitalis product pages can be found here


Elizabeth Crawford


'Olive D'

'Olive D'

I'm loving the stripey sweet peas this year - pictured are 'Nimbus' and 'Olive D'. Unusual and eyecatching they add drama and movement to flower arrangements, and look stunning in the garden. Nimbus is available now in the shop, and new seed of Olive D will be available in the autumn!

Production on Organic Certified Land

Elizabeth Crawford

It's been a while since my last blog update, but offline Owl's Acre Seed has been far from idle! We have relocated our production grounds this year nearer to home in East Yorkshire, for ease of management and to begin cultivation on organic certified land. For the time being our seed will not be certified organic (a costly process), but a number of varieties from September 2017 onwards will be guaranteed free from any pesticide sprays and fertilizers, both in terms of treatment during production, and the chemical load of the land on which they are grown. Why do I think it is important to offer organically grown Sweet Pea seed? I believe strongly that care of our land - every inch of it - is vital for the future viability of our lives and those of most other species on the planet. The use of chemicals in ornamental seed production may not seem as contentious as their use in food production, where harmful substances may be directly consumed by humans (UN, 2017. http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=56311#.WRXbLtLyvIU). However in every small way it is possible to stand in solidarity with the growing movement to revitalize and protect our land and all that relies on it for survival. I want to support a move away from the use of degrading, toxic chemicals in every area of life, and offering organically produced Sweet Pea seed extends a choice to our customers to support this development too. As this is a new venture, I am excited to see how our plants grow on this different land, and to share our experiences with you as the season progresses - as well as what ranges of seed will be on offer later in the year. I hope all your Sweet Peas are looking happy and healthy!

New Seed Available

Elizabeth Crawford
darkpassion 2cm.jpg

We've got some new Sweet Pea seed in the shop ready for Spring! After many months of waiting, there is now a limited quantity of the gorgeous 'Dark Passion' available - this variety is an unusual dark blue shade, distinct from our other dark coloured sweet peas which have red and purple tones. 

Also back in stock are 'Charlie's Angel', a very popular pale blue excellent for cutting and fragrance; 'White Frills'; 'Windsor' and 'Our Harry'. Find all these and more in the Spencers section of the site. Further new seed is on the way so keep checking back, or get in touch if there's something particular you are after!


'Oban Bay' and 'Mrs Bernard Jones' back in stock!

Elizabeth Crawford
Mrs Bernard Jones

A long established soft pink sweet pea which continues to more than hold its own. Winner of the Clay Cup in 1978, 1982 and 1984, and the Leweston Trophy in 1981, it was the second most popular exhibition sweet pea in the 1980s and still the eighth most popular in the 1990s. A reliable performer with large, well placed flowers, this variety has bold seeds and makes a good cut flower.

A much loved sweet pea which is highly recommended for exhibition, garden, cutting and fragrance.

NSPS colour category: 10b

After a brief absence from our product list, seeds of 'Mrs Bernard Jones' and 'Oban Bay' are now back in stock. Please see below for more details of these lovely Spencer varieties:

Oban Bay

A very distinctive pale ice blue sweet pea bred by R Chisholm, and introduced by Boltons in 1997. Awarded a First Class Certificate at the SNSPS trials and an AGM. Vigorous and reliable, this lovely sweet pea is hugely popular in Scotland, and is proving very successful as an exhibition variety.

This unique sweet pea should be grown more frequently for both exhibition and garden.

NSPS colour category: 9b


Elizabeth Crawford

As the golden fields of late August are mowed to stubble, and rose hips and hawthorn berries begin to gleam red in the hedgerows, we feel in good company as the sweet pea seed harvest gets well under way. We've got a great crop this year and our evenings are being filled with podding and cleaning the fresh seed. The dry pods are gathered into net bags in the greenhouse so their precious contents won't be lost when the pods burst open. 

Sweet Peas in Devon

Elizabeth Crawford

I sowed these sweet peas a little late, in April, and they took a little while to get going. They don't have the stature of my earlier sown plants, but are looking magnificent all the less and producing copious, fragrant flowers that are absolutely delicious cut in vases in my kitchen. I made rough growing frames out of tall 7ft sticks collected from my local woodland - lots of hazel and hardwood trees so straight, strong sticks aplenty! I filled these out with smaller twigs and branches pushed into the earth for the young plants to climb up. In the foreground is 'Erewhon', then 'Mrs Bernard Jones'; 'Oban Bay'; 'Noel Sutton' and 'Anniversary'.