Innovative new seed range launches with over 60 new varieties
The New Product Development team at Thompson & Morgan (read more) has been busy. The first item on the newly-formed team’s agenda has been to put together our biggest ever introduction of new seed varieties. Over 60 varieties will be introduced in the company’s 2019 seed range; a significant number are from our own renowned breeding programme headed by Charles Valin, T&M’s resident master plant breeder.
Joseph Cordy, Thompson & Morgan’s head of B2B sales, said:
“We are delighted to be able to announce the biggest ever range ‘refresh’ in our retail seed offering; this confirms our commitment to innovation and quality. There are some really exciting new varieties, including several which are completely exclusive to Thompson & Morgan. This is just the start of an extensive programme of innovation in which we are investing heavily and further announcements concerning the range will follow.”
T&M’s head of commercial, Chris Wright commented:
“Joseph has been working closely with the horticultural team since joining Thompson & Morgan and this news is a direct result of all the hard work they’ve put in. He is already proving to be a major asset to the company and as he has said, there’s a lot more to come!”
The 2019 seed range will be available to garden centres and other retailers from July 2018 and to online customers from early September 2018.
L to R: Peter Freeman, Paul Masters, Charles Valin, Colin Randel
With 140 years of horticultural experience between them, our newly formed new product development team is able to boast a rich diversity of expert horticultural knowledge.
True to our tradition of providing gardeners with the newest, most interesting and best quality flower and vegetable varieties, our new product development team is pulling out all the stops. The first catalogue since the team’s formation is due out between Christmas and New Year and information on exclusive new products and innovations that are in development will be released over the next few weeks.
Paul Masters, who heads up our horticultural team said:
“I’m really excited about the range that we’re planning for next season. Our plant breeding team, led by Charles Valin, has been working overtime and the new varieties that we’re going to be offering are phenomenal! Some of them are completely revolutionary in the gardening world.”
Paul brings over 36 years of horticultural and gardening expertise to the team. He started his career as an apprentice at Notcutts, rising to the position of production director and has travelled extensively in Europe and North America in his search for new and interesting plant varieties to offer to UK gardeners.
Colin Randel is widely known in the horticultural business as an authority on vegetables, and in particular, potatoes. Affectionately known as ‘Spud’ here at T&M, his experience of growing vegetables and developing varieties to bring to the gardening public extends to almost 50 years. Colin was Chair of the RHS Wisley vegetable trials subcommittee for 8 years from 2006 to 2013.
Peter Freeman is the most widely travelled member of the team having visited the Far East and India as well as many European countries looking for new products to enhance our plant and seed range. Over his 38 years’ in the horticultural business, he has worked in nurseries and garden centres, as well as in buying and management. Peter has a particular passion for herbaceous perennials!
The impressive line-up of our horticultural team is soon to be further boosted by the return of Kris Collins to the T&M fold. Kris takes up his new role as quality control manager on the horticultural team in mid-December and brings with him a veritable mine of knowledge and experience gained from his almost 20 years in professional horticulture.
Our latest catalogue, the Spring 2018 edition, will be out just after Christmas.
Stuart and Ian Paton with their record-breaking pumpkin
At this weekend’s Autumn Pumpkin Festival in Netley, Southampton, sponsored by Thompson & Morgan, no less than four British records were broken.
Stuart and Ian Paton broke the record that they set in 2016 for the heaviest pumpkin to be grown in the UK. Weighing in at 2269lbs or 162 stone, the pumpkin beat last year’s entry by just 15lbs.
Ian Paton said that producing a giant pumpkin is no mean feat. He and his brother Stuart spend on average 3 hours a day tending to their pumpkin patch, often using 100 gallons of water to keep the pumpkins irrigated.
Paul Hansord of Thompson & Morgan said:
“We’ve been sponsoring the Autumn Pumpkin Festival event in Southampton for many years and it’s always exciting when a record is beaten, so this year we’re thrilled to see four records broken.”
Matthew Oliver of RHS Hyde Hall, Chelmsford beat the record for the heaviest outdoor-grown pumpkin with a 1498.4lbs whopper. In 2016, Matthew famously hollowed out his giant pumpkin – which had weighed in at 1333.8lb – and rowed it across a lake at his RHS garden base in Essex.
Other UK record breakers at the weekend weigh-in were Steve Bridges, who took the prize for the heaviest UK-grown squash (457.3lb) and David Maund with his 176.5lb field pumpkin.
The last few weeks leading up to the weigh-in have been tense for the 53 year old twins from Lymington in Hampshire, whose names are now synonymous with giant pumpkins. The risk of the pumpkin splitting and thereby being disqualified from the competition is high when it’s putting on up to 60lbs a day!
Fancy trying your hand at growing a record-breaking pumpkin, click here to buy seeds from the Paton twins’ previously grown giant pumpkins. Don’t forget to send us photos of your pumpkins as they grow.
To learn more about growing pumpkins, watch our videos here
We were alerted last week by a customer on Twitter who remarked on the impressive sight of Thompson & Morgan’s begonia pots at Ipswich station. We quickly despatched T&M’s intrepid photographer, Helen Freeman, to capture proof that these fabulous plants were indeed still flowering on the platforms four months after planting!
T&M begonias still blooming on Friday 29th September, four months after planting
And here’s the proof! The plants were indeed still going strong on both sides of the London to Norwich line.
Back in June, we donated pots of beautiful begonias for a joint project with Ipswich-based ActivLives charity who undertook the planting up of the pots which were then positioned on the platforms of Ipswich station.
Volunteers and young learners from charity ActivLives created 26 summer pots, filled with begonias supplied by Thompson & Morgan. The pots have brightened up the platforms of Ipswich station on the Norwich to London mainline since June, and staff at the station say that customer feedback has been plentiful and positive.
ActivGardens brings people together in an active and healthy way, creating change to improve the vitality of local communities. Susannah Robirosa, ActivLives’ Development Manager said:
“I’m delighted ActivLives has been able to collaborate with Thompson & Morgan in this way to brighten up the town for the benefit of residents and visitors.”
According to Thompson & Morgan’s head of sales, Victoria Ager, Begonia ‘Whopper’ is a firm favourite with T&M customers – so it was the obvious first choice of the company’s many flowering plants to dress up the station.
Jackie Rathbone, Greater Anglia’s Assistant Customer Service Manager, said:
“We are delighted to be involved in this project and working with ActivLives and Thompson & Morgan once again. We are very impressed with the hard work of the volunteers of all ages and abilities involved.”
No garden? No allotment? No problem. You can grow plenty of vegetable varieties in containers. Follow our 4 steps to successful vegetable gardening in containers.
As our so-called spring gets under way, we’re noticing that one of this season’s hot trends is growing vegetables in containers. Like many other aspects of our lives, this is all about maximising time, space and effort. Well aware of the health benefits, many of us are keen to grow our own vegetables, but are time poor, so we’re looking at ways to make things easier. Lots of people don’t have a huge garden or allotment, so growing in containers, whether flowers or vegetables, seems to be the way forward.
Here’s some advice on how to get the most out of your container vegetable patch so that you can enjoy that ‘fresh-from-the-garden’ taste even if you only have a small patio, balcony or roof terrace. Use these tips as your next step to fresh and delicious – and convenient – vegetables
1. Soil – Starting your seeds and plants in good soil is really important. If you’re using containers and pots that you used last year, remember that it’s fine to reuse the soil as long as you give it a bit of a boost of nutrients with compost and fertiliser. You should try to avoid growing plants from the same family in the same soil as last year – it’s the same theory as the crop rotation principles that farmers work to. If you’re just starting your container veg growing experience this season, then you can’t go wrong with our incredicompost® which has been independently trialled and verified as the best overall compost for raising seeds and young plants. Using this, along with our incredicrop® fertiliser, will go a long way to giving your vegetable plants the growing environment they need to produce really good crops of tasty and nutritional vegetables.
2. Sun – It’s important to consider how much sun your patio/balcony/roof terrace gets when choosing which vegetables to grow in containers. Plants that you will pick fruit from, such as tomatoes, need a good dose of sunshine – 6 to 8 hours a day – whilst vegetables that you pull out of the ground need approx. 4-6 hours. Leafy greens can manage on just 3 to 4 hours. Don’t panic if your outdoor space isn’t graced with non-stop sunshine – plenty of edible crops will thrive in partial sun and you’ll still get a good crop. Just be mindful of keeping your plants watered and fed, especially if they ARE in full sun.
3. Size – It’s worth considering the size of your container when you come to sowing your vegetable seeds and planting your vegetable plants. Think about it – for some plants, you’ll need deeper pots, planters or tubs – it’s not rocket science. As a guide, for shallow-rooted vegetables, such as radishes, lettuce and other leafy vegetables, and herbs, you’ll need about 20-30cm (9-12in) of depth in your container. For medium-rooted plants, you’ll need 30-35cm (12-14in) depth and for larger plants, such as tomatoes and potatoes, you’ll need 40-45cm (16-18in) depth. Of course, there are many options when it comes to buying containers for growing vegetables – there’s a huge choice of patio planting bags which have the benefit of being easy to move and position, as well as being reusable, and they’re easy to fold down and store when you don’t need them. Have a look at our brilliant VegTrugs™ which are just perfect for growing vegetables in!
4. Selection – Most edible vegetable plants can be grown in containers, but these days there are many varieties which have been especially developed to grow in pots and containers. These varieties will be more compact – meaning that they won’t get too big – and easier to harvest. See below for some of our container variety suggestions.
Start your shopping list here:
TomTato® – amazing variety from Thompson & Morgan’s own breeding – tomatoes and potatoes on the same plant!
Egg & Chips® – aubergines and potatoes on the same plant! More brilliant breeding from T&M!
Courgette ‘Black Forest’ – this unique climbing courgette is a great space-saving container variety
Tomato ‘Bajaja’ (tomato seeds) – great tomato variety for growing in containers and it doesn’t require side-shooting. Try Tomato ‘Balconi Yellow’ if you prefer your tomatoes yellow – this variety makes a lovely colourful feature on the patio or balcony – and the tomatoes are very sweet and tasty too.
For another decorative and productive vegetable plant, go for the superb dwarf Runner Bean ‘Hestia’ or another dwarf bean, French Bean ‘Mascotte’.
Other varieties for container cultivation are radish, carrots, beetroot and salad leaves. And of course, many potato varieties can be very successfully grown in containers or potato growing bags