- Paton twins grow UK’s largest pumpkin but fail to beat record they set in 2014
- Winning 1,861lb pumpkin to be carved for World Vision’s ‘Carve a Heart’ campaign to raise awareness of children living in the world’s hardest places
- Seeds from the Paton Giant to go on sale at www.thompson-morgan.com for the 2016 growing season.
Hampshire brothers Ian and Stuart Paton picked up another giant cheque from Thompson & Morgan at the Autumn Pumpkin Festival, Netley, Southampton, on Saturday 10th October.
The annual event draws pumpkin growers from across the country, all aiming to take home the prize for the UK’s largest pumpkin. The Paton twins, who run Pine Tops Nursery in Hants, have broken the UK record for a giant pumpkin at the event an impressive nine times.
Having entered a 1,884lb beast in 2014 (their heaviest yet) and invested in a new glass house set up for their 2015 attempt, they had hopes of smashing the world record this season. Their dreams were sadly dashed when the three largest pumpkins in their greenhouse split as they piled on 35lb per day at their peak.
Show rules state that all entries must be in tact with no splits or breaks. This left the Paton’s with one last shot, and while it didn’t break any records, the 1861lb giant was still the biggest entered on the day. Their ‘small fruit’ weighed in 543lb heavier than the next best entry; a 1319lb beauty grown by Dorset dairy farmer Mark Baggs.
Giant pumpkins aren’t the nicest looking specimens so a separate award for prettiest fruit was awarded to Welsh grower Mark Josey for his 878.9lb entry. Other highlights at the show included a 59.4lb water melon, 196lb squash and 82.5lb marrow.
Show sponsor, Thompson & Morgan horticultural director Paul Hansord, hauls the winning fruit home to the seed and plant specialists Ipswich HQ every October in order to harvest the seeds for sale. He said: “The interest these giant pumpkins generate is incredible. I lost count of the photos being taken of the truck as I drove back to Suffolk with the winner on board. At every stop on my journey I was swarmed by onlookers keen to get a photo and ask a question or two – are they real, can you eat them, what will you do with them?”
Sadly pumpkins of this size lose their flavour and texture so are no good for cooking, but they do generate other opportunities. This year Thompson & Morgan is donating the giant pumpkin to charity World Vision, the world’s largest international children’s aid charity. It plans to use the pumpkin as part of its annual Carve a Heart campaign. Now in its third year, the event uses Halloween as a hook to highlight children living in fear across the world.
The campaign calls on consumers to turn a night of fear into a night of hope by carving hearts into their pumpkins in place of a scary face, offering a lantern of hope for vulnerable Children who live in fear every night of the year.
This Halloween you can turn a night of fear into a night of hope.
Carve a heart. Be there for children living in fear. Text HEART to 70060 to donate £5 to World Vision.
The easy way to add a taste of Japan to sushi, salads and sandwiches
We’ve brought a new distinctive taste to a salad favourite. Traditional rocket types offer a hot peppery flavour, our exclusive Wasabi Rocket adds a taste of Japan with the unique warm flavour of the wasabi root in quick and easy to grow salad leaf form. A small wasabi root can cost upwards of £10, takes two years to reach maturity, and is very particular about the conditions in which it grows – it hates hot, dry summers and cold, wet winters.
Our Wasabi Rocket can be harvested as a baby leaf within weeks of sowing or left to mature into a full leaf alongside your cut and come again salad varieties – either way the flavour is just as distinctive. Sow every couple of weeks through the season, and grow on the windowsill through autumn and winter for a cheap year round supply. Previously only available in select supermarket salad bags, be the first to grow this wonderful new salad addition in the UK – top chefs are already raving about it!
Add a kick to salads, sandwiches and sushi, or use it with any dish that requires horseradish or wasabi paste. You’ll be amazed at how much flavour is packed into each leaf.
Read more and buy your wasabi rocket seeds.
Fully resistant strain for blight-free tomato growing in 2016
When it comes to blight-free tomato growing, Thompson & Morgan has it covered. Having promoted the world’s first late blight resistant outdoor cherry plum as Vegetable of the Year 2015, the mail order specialist has named fully blight resistant Tomato Mountain Magic F1 as its Vegetable of the Year for 2016.
Blight is a rising problem for UK growers, especially for plants raised outdoors, due to increasingly wet and humid summer weather – conditions the fungal disease thrives under. Mountain Magic F1 has been developed with outdoor growers in mind, meaning gardeners don’t have to invest in costly greenhouses to carry on growing the nation’s favourite grow-your-own vegetable.
Mountain Magic F1 is a cordon-trained variety ideal for sunny veg patches and borders, as well as grow bags and patio containers. Combining the rich flavour of heritage varieties with modern F1 hybrid disease resistance, this tasty tom has everything going for it! Not only does it have good resistance to early blight, it carries the late blight-busting Ph-2 and Ph-3 genes, giving it protection against all current British strains including Pink6 and Blue13, the most virulent to hit UK crops. It also has in-built genetic resistance to both verticillium and fusarium wilt as well as skin cracking.
The variety joins last year’s introduction, Romello F1, a compact, blight resistant baby plum variety. Fruits weigh 16-18g and grow towards the outside of the plant for easy picking. Romello F1, makes the ideal cherry tomato for salads or picking straight from the vine, alternatively treat it as a mini plum for the perfect pasta sauce. Romello F1 retails at £3.99 for six seeds.
Mountain Magic F1 is truly all-purpose – eat it from the vine, slice for salads, salsas and sandwiches, or use as a cooker or sauce base. Mountain Magic F1 retails at £3.99 for five seeds.
Both blight resistant varieties are ideal for an April sowing under cover, for planting outside in early June.
Thompson & Morgan Vegetable Product Manager Colin Randel said: “These two tasty toughies cover a range of kitchen uses as well as offering the antidote to blight problems on the veg patch. There isn’t a better duo for risk-free outdoor growing. Mountain Magic certainly deserves its title of Vegetable of the Year for 2016.”
Find out more about Tomato ‘Mountain Magic’ F1 Hybrid by clicking here
Thompson & Morgan focus on a favourite to back Year of the Cosmos
Cosmos are always a favourite option with Thompson & Morgan customers. Easy to grow, free flowering in beds and containers, a wide colour range and an excellent cut flower. Cosmos are an obvious choice for beginners and established gardeners alike.
The mail order seed and plant specialist sold more than 117,000 packets of Cosmos, across some 40 varieties, during the 2014-2015 season. It is looking to take that further next season by showing support for the industry-wide Fleuroselect Year of the Cosmos marketing campaign. The firm’s 2016 Seed Catalogue, mailing in early September, contains a dedicated inspirational spread to this popular genus, and will champion new Cosmos ‘Xanthos’ as the Thompson & Morgan Flower of the Year 2016.
Horticultural Director, Paul Hansord, said: “New cosmos are always popular with our customers – we struggled to meet demand for Cosmos ‘Cupcakes’ this season, and we’re expecting big things from ‘Xanthos’ in 2016. Yellow is a much sought after colour in the genus. With all eyes on these easy to grow summer performers thanks to the Fleuroselct campaign, we hope to see even more gardeners adding Cosmos to their schemes in 2016.”
Find out more about Cosmos ‘Xanthos’ by clicking here
If you ever visited one of our Open Weekend’s you’ll know you’ll be in for a treat at the new Thompson & Morgan garden. Sadly due to the large number of visitors the event attracted, it could no longer be held at the our site. However, we are so excited to have teamed up with Jimmy’s Farm to be able to once again open its trial gardens to their customers and gardening public.
Over a thousand containers (Tower Pots™, Flower Pouches™, Patio Pots and Easy Fill Hanging Baskets ) and several large trial beds will show off customer favourites, key introductions for 2016 and experimental varieties being trialled for garden performance. You will be asked to highlight your favourite varieties and will have the chance to win prizes for sending in selfie shots with the plant that catches your eye the most.
The garden adds an injection of vibrant colour to a host of other free attractions at the farm including rare breed animals, top class restaurant and butchery, as well as craft and gift stores. Take a look at the farm map.
Farm owner Jimmy Doherty said: “The Thompson & Morgan garden just cannot be missed… literally! Our latest attraction has added a generous dose of colour to the farm, and allows us to offer gardener’s a sneak preview of some incredible new plants for gardens. Marvel at the wall of colour too, clothed in Thompson & Morgan’s innovative Flower Pouches™, showing that fences don’t have to stay dull and brown! Visit as soon as you can for a day of inspiration and, of course, the opportunity to take some great selfies!”
You can keep up to date on the latest information about the Thompson & Morgan Garden at Jimmy’s Farm by following us on Facebook and Twitter with #TMopengarden.
Entry to the garden is free. Visit Jimmy’s Farm for more information on admission fees and directions.
Yes, it is that time again and we cannot believe how quickly it has come back around. Not that we are complaining we love National Allotment Week (August 10th – 16th )! This year the focus is on a plot for all ages. No matter your age or gender, allotments bring a wealth of benefits and by highlighting them we can value our plots and preserve them for future generations.
The first allotments were used to grow food during the World Wars and they provided a means of labour for those in rural and poorer areas. Since then, allotments have flourished and not only do they provide a space for growing food supplies but community allotments are social spaces where gardeners can interact each other;
‘Allotments are a great way to meet new people, not only have I gained an allotment but have gained friends and a good source of companionship. We talk about general day things, children and jobs etc but they are also a good source of information. I learn from them, grow with them and together we have become savvy allotmenteers’ – Jon Parker
The community spirit behind allotments is more important than ever as an increasing number of allotments are being sold to developers to create amenities such as homes and schools. Whilst we all can appreciate more houses are needed, allotments play a vital part to our well being.
I remember when we visited our local Belstead allotments to meet Mrs Christine Simpson who had managed to get funding for a composting toilet for the site. Christine says;
“We’ve got 179 plots and now, compared to a few years ago, we’re full, with a long waiting list as the demand for space to grow your own has increased. We’ve got a real mix of people, It’s a real family affair for a lot of plot holders. We’ve brought in an old shipping container to act as a secure lock-up for gardening supplies; we’ve converted an old shed into a meeting place with heaters and stoves for a warm cup of tea and provided some picnic benches for social get-togethers at weekends, but there were no toilets.”
Whether you are young or old, allotments can be enjoyed by everyone. And with caring people such as Christine, allotments can become a real community space where you can spend hours on end enjoying your crops and talking to fellow gardeners.
Do you have an allotment? Then we have the perfect competition for you! We would love to see and hear about your allotments, so send in your pictures and tell us a bit about your allotment for your chance to win a wonderful prize. You could take a photo of everyone in your allotments or a picture of your veg it really is up to you. And then tell us why your allotment is special to you.
If you would like to know more about how to get an allotment please read how with our guest blogger Michelle Stacey from BBC Big Allotment Challenge.