Growing for flavour

TV gardener James Wong says watering down flavour has become the norm amongst gardeners – and he hopes his new book Grow for Flavour will up the taste factor on Britain’s plots.

James Wong
James Wong has a new book out: Grow for Flavour
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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.

Grow for Flavour book cover by James Wong.
Grow for Flavour by James Wong.

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.”

Strawberry 'Honeoye'
Strawberry ‘Honeoye’ is one of James’ top picks. Image: Suttons Seeds

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”


Matt Appleby

About Matt Appleby

Matt is a former teacher turned journalist. He took up writing while in New Zealand and trained as a journalist there. He has since written five books (three on cricket and two on gardening) with The Children's Garden due out in spring 2016 published by Frances Lincoln. He writes for Horticulture Week and other publications. Married with two boys, aged 3 and 6 he lives in London.
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