Twins reclaim throne as Pumpkin Kings with 2,252lb record breaker
Ian and Stuart Paton UK record holders with Paul Hansord, Thompson & Morgan
Hampshire brothers smash the British record and set their sights on the world record in 2017
Ian and Stuart Paton have broken the British record for a giant pumpkin for an incredible 7th time at the annual Autumn Pumpkin Festival in Southampton. The event draws pumpkin growers from across the UK, all hoping to take home the prize for the UK’s largest pumpkin. This year, the Paton’s gargantuan gourd measured more than 19ft in circumference and during its peak period of growth, it piled on a staggering 57lb each day for 2 weeks. To match its rate of growth, the vigilant horticultural siblings, who run Pine Tops Nursery in Hants, lovingly supplied over 100 gallons of water a day, plus a nutrient-rich fertiliser. As the all-important weigh-in date approached, Ian and Stuart were spending 5 hours a day nurturing the 3 giant pumpkins that they entered into the competition. The final weight of the winning entry is just 71lb off the world record.
The new UK heaviest pumpkin record holder
Each time a record is broken at the annual Jubilee Sailing Trust Autumn Pumpkin Festival, show sponsor – seed and plant mail order specialist Thompson & Morgan – takes the winning specimen back to its Ipswich HQ. The seeds are harvested, tested for viability and prepared for sale, so for any budding giant pumpkin growers inspired by this weekend’s jumbo entries, Thompson & Morgan sell the seeds under the aptly named variety, Pumpkin ‘Paton Twins Giant’. It’s a popular line with amateur growers at just £9.99 for two huge seeds with the genetics to become a record breaker with the right care. It’s the seed of choice for serious competitors too – the majority of entries to this year’s official weigh-in at the Southampton pumpkin event were grown from seeds supplied by the Patons.
The brothers will be using seeds from this year’s crop next year – which they say will bear the best seeds in the country thanks to careful hand pollination of their plants to cross two of their best ever performing plants. And with the world record now held closer to home (Swiss gardener, Ben Meier, took the title in 2014 with a 2,323lb monster) they say they are even more set on achieving the accolade themselves.
Stuart said: “We’ve always been confident of winning the world title eventually, and our new greenhouse has made a big difference with its better soil and light levels, an improved watering system and a larger growing area with a more consistent temperature. We’re well prepared to take on not only the Swiss, but the Americans too.”
T&M Horticultural Director, Paul Hansord said: “It used to be said that the world record would never leave the US, but if the Swiss can do it, so can we. Our seed quality just keeps getting better, thanks to the Patons’ selective pollination, and UK growers are upping the game every year. I’ve every confidence the Paton boys can bring the world title to UK shores in the near future.”
Having just handed over the £1,000 prize cheque and with a promise to pay £10,000 for a British world beater, he could be regretting that confidence in coming years!
To order your own ‘Paton Twins Giant’ Seed and grow a giant yourself next year, visit www.thompson-morgan.com/giant-pumpkin
For further information, images and reader offers/competitions on Paton Twin Giant seeds, please email Julie Rush firstname.lastname@example.org or call 01473 695227
Thompson & Morgan, which offers one of the UK’s widest ranges of garden seeds, plants, gardening equipment and outdoor living furniture, was recently selected to join the Google Certified Shops program. To help shoppers identify online merchants that offer a great shopping experience, the Google Certified Shops badge is awarded to ecommerce sites that demonstrate a track record of on time shipping and excellent customer service.
When visiting the Thompson & Morgan website (www.thompson-morgan.com), shoppers will see a Google Certified Shops badge and can click on it for more information.
Taking your order & checking your plants
Marketing Services Manager, Clare Dixey said ‘independent reviews from our customers are extremely important both to us and to reassure our online customers. We are delighted to have won this accolade from Google which measures for the very best in customer services, online experience, reliable delivery and product quality’.
As an added benefit, when a shopper makes a purchase at Google Certified Shops, they have the option to select free purchase protection from Google. Then in the unlikely event of an issue with their purchase, they can request Google’s help, and Google will work with Thompson & Morgan and the customer to address the issue. As part of this, Google offers up to £1,000 lifetime purchase protection for eligible purchases.
Google Certified Shops is entirely free, both for shoppers and for online stores. The program helps online stores like Thompson & Morgan attract new customers, increase sales and differentiate themselves by showing off their excellent service via the badge on their websites.
Supplying gardeners since 1855, Thompson & Morgan has a longstanding reputation for its extensive range and seeds and young plants. Following two years of growth and product expansion, the mail order specialist now has everything a gardener could possibly need to get their outdoor space exactly as they want it, all with the convenience of delivery direct to the door. Alongside its award-winning range of flower and vegetable seeds, young plants, fruit trees, bushes and bulbs, customers can now add everything from plant labels, propagators, fertilisers and composts to hand tools, power tools, mowers, sheds and greenhouses, along with a comprehensive range of over 1,200 mature perennials, trees and shrubs.
For more information about Thompson & Morgan, reader offers or image requests please contact Julie Rush on 01473 695227 or email email@example.com
Independent trials carried out by consumer group Which? Gardening have named incredicompost® as the best compost on the market. It was given an overall test score of 95 per cent, setting it well ahead of the next best performer, Verve multipurpose compost (B&Q) at 80 per cent. It came miles ahead of the worst performer – GroSure Peat-Free All-Purpose Compost with 4 Month Feed, labelled a ‘Don’t Buy’ product by Which? Gardening, having scored just 33 per cent in the trials.
We knew we were on to a winner with our first move into the compost market. Our aim with incredicompost® has been to develop a premium-quality product that brings consistency and reliability back to the compost market – something that has been missing since the increased use of green waste materials in many well-known brands, in a bid to reduce their peat content. Gardeners are keen to reduce their peat use but many have reported poor results with existing green-waste products.
incredicompost® addresses these consumer concerns. To reduce the peat in our blend we have instead included wood fibre, sourced from Irish saw mills, actually making use of a surplus by-product. This wood fibre is graded by chip size, so each time we make a new batch we can guarantee consistency from our ingredients, leading to consistent performance from the compost.
incredicompost® comes packed with trace elements and minerals and like many other products includes wetting agent for easy watering, plus a little pre-mixed fertiliser to ensure good early growth. What sets it out from the crowd is a pre-packed sachet of incredibloom® in every bag for mixing in at planting time, ensuring strong healthy growth for 7+ months – a little goes a long way! Separating the feed into a sachet prevents degradation (leading to a lack of nutrients for plants), a common problem with other pre-mixed, long lasting composts.
You can read the full Which? compost trial report in the Jan/Feb 2016 issue.
Seed and plant specialist Thompson & Morgan is predicting the best ever year for grow your own following a sharp rise in vegetable seeds sales for the 2016 season.
The Thompson & Morgan seed retailing year runs September to September. The Ipswich based mail order expert has reported an impressive 24 per cent rise in seed sales through September to end of November 2015, compared to the same period in 2014. While flower seed sales remain strong it is vegetable seed that has driven the increase.
Interest in grow your own hit an all time high in 2009, when industry wide sales of vegetable seeds peaked at an historic £60million for the year. Some said the bubble would soon burst but Thompson & Morgan customers are showing no sign of giving up on the good life. Thompson & Morgan Horticultural Director Paul Hansord says if vegetable seed sales continue to perform at current levels then the firm will be reporting its best ever year for the category.
Tomato seeds sales have jumped 51 per cent in the three month period. Much of this growth has been generated by sales of Thompson & Morgan’s Vegetable of the Year for 2016 – Tomato Mountain Magic, a fully blight resistant variety ideal for a trouble-free late season outdoor crop. Akron and Sweet Aperitif join with blight buster to form T&Ms top three tomatoes.
Onion ‘Bunton’s Showstopper’
Brassica seed sales have risen 52 per cent, while onion seeds have seen an impressive growth of 67 per cent. T&M says the loss of show bench favourite Onion Kelsae from other retailer’s 2016 catalogues (the Italian seed crop was destroyed by a hail storm and will not be available again until at least 2017) has driven growers towards other large varieties including Onion Bunton’s Showstopper, an exclusive show bench variety developed by one of Thompson & Morgan’s customers. Pea and Bean sales have risen 82 per cent, with Runner Bean Firestorm – the 2016 Thompson and Morgan Seed Catalogue cover star – alone seeing a 75 per cent rise in sales.
Thompson & Morgan’s Chilli and Pepper range has seen the biggest growth, with sales rising a staggering 111 per cent. This has been driven by a complete overhaul of the category for 2016. Paul said: “Much of our product development focus has been on making growing from seed as easy as possible. Our redesigned sweet and hot pepper range does away with the complicated Scoville Heat scale. Each variety has been given a 1-10 heat rating, from cool & sweet to explosive, allowing gardeners to make a quick informed decision on which varieties are right for them.
Leek ‘All season’ Collection
Thompson & Morgan is also helping veg growers to take the guesswork out of crop timings in 2016 with All Season Vegetable Collections. Each packet contains at least three top- performing varieties of the same vegetable that can all be sown in one hit but will crop at different stages to give the longest harvest window from a single sowing. The All Season Mange Tout Pea collection for example contains Oregon Sugar Pod, Sweet Horizon and Kennedy for a 16 week harvest from June through to October, while the All Season Leeks collection provides a massive 36 week crop window from August through to the following April.
Thompson & Morgan has a long history as market leader in the mail order supply of seed and young plants, direct to gardener’s doors since 1855. Its award winning website and seasonal catalogues have undergone a massive product expansion through 2015, now listing 10,000+ items covering most areas of garden supply, from sheds, greenhouses and mature plants to garden machinery, composts, fertilisers and hand tools.
Despite this, Paul says Thompson & Morgan remains committed to offering the best selection of garden seeds on the market. He says: “Seed sowing is economy-proof, remaining core to our customers’ garden experience in both good and bad years. Nothing beats the satisfaction of nurturing a seasonal crop from plot to plate, especially when you can make a huge saving against supermarket produce and slash your weekly spend.”
Thompson & Morgan’s mail order plants and gardening sundries are to be brought to life on TV screens from January as the horticultural specialist teams up with QVC UK, the leading video and e-commerce retailer, to offer viewers a range of quality garden products through 2016.
Resident QVC gardening specialist Richard Jackson will be joined on screen by Thompson & Morgan plant expert Michael Perry across the year, offering a wide range of exclusive deals on the plant specialist’s best-selling plants and gardening goods.
Begonia ‘Majestic Mixed’
The new partnership starts on 2nd January with Michael joining Richard to offer viewers the first chance to buy new and exclusive Thompson & Morgan products ready for the 2016 gardening season. Expect to see amazing deals on products such as new giant-flowered Begonia ‘Majestic Mixed’ – 6inch (5cm) blooms sit above rich, luxurious foliage to provide five months of floral colour, right up to the first frosts of autumn. Later in the month Michael will introduce viewers to Fuchsia ‘Mr Blue Sky’, a world exclusive for the seed and plant specialist. This fantastic new form carries true blue flowers that drip from cascading stems. It’s set to be a big talking point in hanging baskets and patio container displays in summer 2016.
Fuchsia ‘Mr Blue Sky’
Thompson & Morgan Horticultural Director Paul Hansord said: “We’ve worked closely with QVC in the past and it’s great to be teaming up with them again in 2016, it’s a perfect brand fit. We pride ourselves on our catalogue and online offering but to be able to show live product to viewers on screen allows us to really show their quality and performance while providing some excellent offers for gardeners. We are a multi-platform gardening retailer and working with QVC provides a further outlet for gardeners to shop at their convenience.”
Where to find Thompson & Morgan on QVC Gardening?
To take advantage of the first Thompson & Morgan offering of the year, tune into QVC at 9am, 2nd January. QVC UK is available on Sky Digital channel 650, Virgin TV channel 740, Freesat channel 800, Freeview channel 16, and online at www.qvcuk.com