Innovative growing concepts for 2016

Thompson & Morgan promises best year on the vegetable patch with host of innovative growing concepts for 2016

2016 product developments from the specialists at Thompson & Morgan are paving the way for the easiest ever route to fresh home grown produce this season. Whether you’re short on time, space or knowledge, there’s now an easy solution for you.

Following success with our groundbreaking Tomtato®, a hand grafted plant producing both potatoes and tomatoes, T&M has launched Egg & Chips®, a world first in duo grafting. Gardeners can now grow aubergines and potatoes on the same plant. What’s more the potato ‘root stock’ gives the aubergine part the extra energy needed to crop successfully under UK conditions. You don’t need a greenhouse to grow Egg & Chips®, a large pot on a sunny patio will produce perfect plants. £14.99 for one Egg & Chips®, £19.99 for two.

krisC1

Egg & Chips®, Tomtato®, and Pea ‘Terrain’

Staying with the grafted concept a new Grafted Summer Vegetable Collection has also been launched for the season, made up of Cucumber ‘Mini Stars’, Pepper Orlas, Tomato ‘Solena Red’ and Tomato ‘Sportivo’, promising to increase yields by up to 75%. Joining a fruiting variety to a more vigorous rootstock has brought massive benefits to commercial crop production. Now T&M customers can bring the goodness of grafted veg to their own pots or plots.

Vegetable Grafted Collection

Vegetable Grafted Collection

T&M Vegetable Expert, Colin Randel said: “Some vegetable varieties produce fantastic fruit but are weak growers, others are vigorous growers with poor fruits. We’ve selected the best grafting matches to bring you the best possible results from a single plant. Spend a little extra on our grafted plants and reap the rewards right through the season.” 4 plant collection £19.99.

Changes in EU regulation mean that for the first time in a long time, Thompson & Morgan is now able to offer mixed vegetable seed varieties in the same packet, creating the easiest route to success on the veg patch and the longest harvest, with no need for successional sowing.
The All Season Collections take the hard work out of crop planning. Each is made up of several toptasting and top-performing F1 varieties that can be sown in one hit, but will crop at different times to give a harvest window of up to 36 weeks. The All Season Leek Collection for example, offers a nine month harvest from a single sowing of three trusted varieties – ‘Lincoln‘, ‘Oarsman’ and ‘Below Zero’. The collections have been based around the most popular crops grown by British gardeners, including peas, beans, broccoli, sweet corn and cabbage. The collections are the perfect solution for novice gardeners and those without the time (or skills!) for detailed crop planning at the start of the season.

All Season Leek Collection

All Season Leek Collection

Stand out vegetable seed introductions for the season include Pea ‘Terrain’ and Tomato ‘Mountain Magic’. The T&M trials team was stunned at the results of new Pea Terrain in 2015 and are heralding the variety as the most exciting introduction since the launch of existing bestseller Hursts ‘Green Shaft’. Paul Hansord said: “We’ve been truly amazed at the outstanding performance of this powerhouse pea. Yield, pod quality and taste – Pea Terrain couldn’t be beaten in our 2015 trials, but most impressive was the resistance to both downy and powdery mildew. In a field surrounded by a dozen infected varieties, only Terrain stood clean and green, making it the best pea for late harvesting. A final sowing on 31st July lead to a mildew free harvest at the end of October. Plants would have kept going if it had not been for a frost.” 99p for 300 seeds.

Tomato 'Mountain Magic' and Potato 'Jazzy'

Tomato ‘Mountain Magic’ and Potato ‘Jazzy’

Similarly, Tomato ‘Mountain Magic’ has shown full resistance to all blight strains currently prevailing in the UK, making it the best option for outdoor growing and late cropping. Thompson & Morgan is so impressed with the performance and flavour of the new variety, it is championing Mountain Magic as its Vegetable of the Year for 2016. £3.99 for five seeds or £9.99 for five plug plants.

Trial results and customer feedback for Potato ‘Jazzy’ have been so impressive it now comes with a Double Money Back guarantee if T&M customers fail to produce 35 potatoes or more from a single tuber. This new second early potato can be grown in small 8 litre pots to easily achieve this number, so is a great space saving option. Pricing for ‘Jazzy’ starts at £3.99.

Many of the varieties are available from selected garden centres now. All are available for order at www.thompson-morgan.com

Kris Collins
Kris Collins works as Thompson & Morgan’s communications officer, making sure customers new and old are kept up to date on the latest plant developments and company news via a wide range of media sources. He trained in London’s Royal Parks and has spent more than a decade writing for UK gardening publications before joining the team at Thompson & Morgan.

I can’t wait for spring!

The T&M spring catalogues arrived this week and I am so excited! I have been choosing my plants for the summer customer trials. I shall concentrate my efforts on two areas – patio containers and hanging baskets and our allotment and greenhouse.

 

Petunia 'Cremissimo', 'Peach Sundae' and Begonia 'Garden Angels'

Petunia ‘Cremissimo’, ‘Crazytunia Mandevilla’ and Begonia ‘Garden Angels’

 

The theme on our patio is exotic, with year round interest provided by abutilons, ferns, fatsias, phormiums and heucheras so I have planned my selection to complement that: everything citrus coloured including NEW Petunia ‘Cremissimo’ – if its anything like last year’s ‘Peach Sundae’ then it’s going to be stunning! NEW Calibrachoa ‘Kabloom Terracotta’, NEW Petunia ‘Crazytunia Mandevilla’ and NEW Begonia ‘Garden Angels’, which look like heucheras-on-steroids! I am also going to try my hand at growing Ricinus Communis ‘Impala‘ from seed, Eucomis ‘Sparkling Burgundy’ bulbs & NEW Curcuma ‘Twister’ tuber to go with the potted ginger lilies and cannas.

 

Calibrachoa 'Kabloom Terracotta', Ricinus communis 'Impala' and Curcuma 'Twister'

Calibrachoa ‘Kabloom Terracotta’, Ricinus communis ‘Impala’ and Curcuma ‘Twister’

 

In the greenhouse we have room for half a dozen cordon tomatoes and a couple of cucumbers, so this year we’re trying Tomato ‘Tutti Fruitti Collection’ for a change, but are sticking to Cucumber ‘Cucino’ as I haven’t found a mini cucumber to rival its productivity. I am fascinated at the thought of edible fuchsia berries so we are having a go at the NEW Fuchsia Berry. More modest trials for the allotment due to time constraints makes us focus on the more unusual, so after tastings at the T&M Trials Open Day last summer, we will try growing Cucamelon ‘Melothria’, Squash [Patty Pans] ‘Summer Mix’ and Courgette ‘De Nice A Fruit Rond’.

 

Tomato 'Rainbow Blend' Cumcumber 'Cucino' and Fuchsia Berry

Tomato ‘Rainbow Blend’ Cumcumber ‘Cucino’ and Fuchsia Berry

 

Of course I couldn’t stop there without buying a couple of things that I have no room for, so NEW Brunnera ‘Alexander’s Great’ and Digitalis ‘Illumination Ruby Slippers’are on the list too!

David has been busy too, adding a small living wall to the front garden display; an area by our front door of about W:25cms x H:40cm with room for about 16 plants. It’s a north facing aspect so more ferns & grasses, and maybe a couple of hostas and herbs. Installing a drip irrigation system should be easy as the tap is situated conveniently right underneath.

The new planting scheme out front is settling in well, spring bulbs are coming up throughout and I have added a beautiful Hellebore ‘Spring Promise’ and a couple more ferns. David succeeded in finding two lovely tall containers to go either side of the front door for my Christmas present. Once installed securely I planted each one with chinodoxa bulbs for spring colour, three huge tree lilies for summer colour, infant contorted willows for year round interest (these quick growers will have to come out when we can no longer get through the front door) and hakonechloa aurea grass for good measure! Think I’ve been a bit too over-enthusiastic but hey, what the heck. David has created some unique lights too which are attracting lots of comments – using recycled bottles and jars.

 

Caroline's house and front garden

Caroline’s house and front garden

 

Today it has snowed for the first time this winter, and a long time coming too! But never to be distracted from my plant addiction I’m off to the garden centre for my ferns and grasses! Watch this space……..

St. Mary’s Church of England Primary School and the Tomtato®

Children from St. Mary’s Church of England Primary School in Woodbridge grow our famous Tomtato®’s

St. Mary’s Church of England Voluntary Aided Primary School in Woodbridge, Suffolk received a handful of our wonderful Tomtato® plants for free. We did this to encourage and educate the children about growing their own vegetables and the enjoyment this can bring. They lovingly grew their Tomtato®’s and sent us a letter thanking us for the plants which we gave for free, and telling us how they got on. The letter was from three of the class Rebecca, Charlotte and Ettie.

Letter from St Mary's School Woodbridge

Letter from St Mary’s School Woodbridge

They also provided photographs of the plants, from which they had a bumper harvest. All the tomatoes and potatoes were then shared out between the growers and the class, so that each child was able to take some home to their parents and carers. The remainder of the produce was sold to the teachers and staff, who all said the tomatoes and potatoes were scrumptious!

St Mary's and Tomtato® Growing

St Mary’s and Tomtato® Growing

This exercise has hopefully shown the children and parents that growing your own fruit and vegetables is neither difficult nor time consuming. It brings great rewards and shows everyone how to become self sustaining, as we all know that home grown is best.

St Mary and Tomtato® Fully Grown

St Mary’s and Tomtato® Fully Grown

The children seemed to have a lot of fun and lets hope we can encourage more children to grow their own fruit and vegetables.

Thank you St. Mary’s Church of England Voluntary Aided Primary School in Woodbridge for your lovely letter and super photographs.

 

 

 

Wendie Alexander
Currently at university I have nearly finished my English Degree. I have been at Thompson & Morgan for nearly 3 years. I am a keen gardener who wants to learn lots more!

Growing Mushrooms

growing mushrooms

Mushroom ‘Oyster’

Mushroom growing may seem complicated but our mushroom dowels, mushroom spawn and complete mushroom growing kits all provide full instructions and everything you will need to grow your own mushrooms at home. Mushrooms are virtually fat and calorie-free and packed full of vitamins and minerals to keep you feeling on top form – an 80g serving even counts towards your 5-a-day vegetable target. They are a very rich source of protein and therefore perfect for vegetarians.

Remember – it’s better to grow your own, than to risk picking wild mushrooms!



What is a mushroom dowel?

We supply our Oyster mushrooms, Shiitake mushrooms and Lion’s mane mushrooms as dowels. The wooden dowels are impregnated with mushroom mycelium (mushroom spawn) ready to ‘plant’ into a hardwood log. They should be stored in the fridge or a cool, dark, well ventilated place until ready to use.

growing mushrooms

Full Mushroom ‘Oyster’ straw kit

When do you plant mushroom dowels?

Dowels are available all year, however the logs needed to grow the mushrooms should be cut during the tree’s dormant season, between leaf fall in autumn and early spring. It is recommended that the dowels are planted in the log no longer than 6 weeks after the log has been cut to prevent contamination from unwanted fungi.

How do you plant mushroom dowels?

Drill holes about 15cm (6 inches) apart down the length of the log. Rows only need to be spaced 7.5cm (3 inches) apart around the diameter of the log. Insert the dowels and tap them so they are flush with the log surface. Seal the inoculation holes, any damaged bark and any cut branch-ends with a layer of wax but do not wax the log-ends as some moisture must be allowed in. Position the logs in a shady wooded area or wrap them in black polythene and bury them under ground. You could also place them under evergreen shrubs. Keep an eye on your logs and if there are signs of significant cracking soak the logs in water for 2 days to thoroughly wet the bark. Mushroom mycelium may take between 6 and 18 months to colonise a log. You may see the mycelium appear as a ‘V’ shape at the end of the log. Once logs are fully colonised they can be moved to a warm, sheltered, moist area in dappled shade where they will begin to fruit. Growing mushrooms in woodland is ideal to meet these requirements. Lean the logs with one end on a brick, rock or another log – do not place logs flat on the ground.

Terri Overett
Terri works in the e-commerce marketing department assisting the busy web team. Terri manages our blog and social media pages here at Thompson & Morgan and is dedicated to providing useful advice to our gardeners. Terri is new to gardening and keen to develop her horticultural knowledge.

How to store Vegetables

Which vegetables will store and how long will they keep?  This is an annual dilemma faced by many gardeners. Often the need for storage is caused by gardeners being too generous in their sowings and planting and creating their own ‘gluts’ and ‘surpluses’. Why plant 200 onion sets if you only use a single bulb per week?

 

how to store vegetablesSowing little and often reduces the wastage and ‘glut’ of the most popular subjects – lettuce, spinach, radish, spring onions, beetroots –  some of these, particularly the leafy vegetables, are unsuitable for storing anyway, as they quickly go limp, lose their freshness and visual appeal. The most important thing to remember is ‘Fresh Is Best’, that is why you are growing your own in the first place – for their taste, freshness, quality and nutritional values. Freeze surpluses of shelling peas and sweetcorn, as they quickly lose their freshness and taste once picked. Frozen peas are one of the few vegetables that are worth buying in the supermarket as they are harvested and frozen very quickly so maintaining their taste and nutrition. Broad Beans, the green seeded varieties are less prone to discolouring in the freezer. French and Runner Bean varieties freeze exceptionally well.

 

Brassicas, winter cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, kales, savoy and winter cabbage are best left where they are growing, although need to be netted against pigeons. They can be dug up leaving the soil attached to the roots and hung upside down by tying with string suspended from a beam in your shed. They will store for a good couple of months.

 

Storing Onions and Shallots

 

how to store vegetablesLift the bulbs on a dry, sunny but windy day and leave them on the soil surface to ‘set’ skins. Do not rub these off. Carefully remove any soil from the roots, and store bulbs in slatted trays, used tights, or polyproplene onion nets, or tied in ropes and hung in the shed.

 

Maincrop beet, carrots, swede, turnip, parsnip can be left in the soil, although soil pests and rodents may take advantage, and prolonged severely cold soil temperatures can affect the root texture and reduce quality and flavour. We suggest lifting some of your roots and twist off the leaves and store in layers of barely damp multipurpose compost, sieved soil or sand in boxes. Keep cool but frost free. Place a blanket over the boxes to keep dark. Roots in boxes should not touch each other to avoid rots spreading and to allow easier air movement and moisture between the roots.

 

Leeks and Trench Celery really are best left where they are and lifted as required. Soil can be earthed further up the stems to protect during harshest weather.

 

Storing Potatoes

 

how to store vegetablesSound, dry, fully ‘set’ skin tubers are best stored in hessian sacks or thick paper bags and covered with a blanket to blank out any light. Potatoes must be stored in cool but frost free conditions in the dark and will store for many months.

 

Important reminders  – Store only blemish free, sound good quality produce. Check these regularly and remove any showing rotting or disease symptoms. Never store in polythene as sweating will quickly encourage rotting. Sheds/ garages should be cool but frost free, although use of blankets for insulation and darkness may suffice. Ideally some air circulation is beneficial for storing most crops.

Colin Randel
Colin Randel is New Vegetable Product Manager at Thompson & Morgan. With over 44 years experience and winner of Gold medal Chelsea displays, there is no one better suited to vegetables that Colin. Also RHS Vegetable Trials Committee Chairman and works alongside Sarvari Potato Research Trust.

Tomato ‘Mountain Magic’ F1 Hybrid – Veg of the Year 2016

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.

tomato mountain magic f1 hybridBlight 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
Since the first seed catalogue was published in 1855, Thompson & Morgan has grown to become one of the UK’s largest Mail Order Seed and Plant companies. Through the publication of our catalogues and the operation of our award-winning website, Thompson & Morgan is able to provide home gardeners with the very best quality products money can buy.

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