Whichever way you look at it, our new vegetable plant creations make sense! Space-saving, double-cropping, fun for kids, easy for beginners, and not to mention tasty and flavoursome…
Let’s look at the story of the dual cropping vegetables!
First we launched the TomTato®. Known for many years as a phenomenon within the horticultural world, this novelty has now gone mainstream! In days gone by, allotmenteers actually spent time sellotaping tomato plants onto potato stems in order to create the fabled ‘TomTato®’.
It wasn’t until a few years back that we finally found a way to produce plants on a commercial basis. But, we didn’t do this with just any tomato and potato. On the top, we grafted a super sweet variety, with a Brix content so high it makes it taste as sweet as a strawberry. The fruits are also deliciously thin-skinned, so much so that you’d never find them in supermarkets (as they would not transport as successfully!) The variety is also a bumper cropper! Plants can produce in excess of 300 fruits per plant.
However, don’t forget that below the ground your plants will be creating that surprise harvest; 2-3kg of delicious white potatoes!! A further year’s development has also meant we’ve been able to select an even heavier cropping potato for the base, now giving 50% more ‘tatties’ than the first incarnation of the TomTato®!
When we released the TomTato® to the public, it took the world by storm – more than 1million plants have sold worldwide since 2013. The plant resonated with such a wide range of people too, and not all of them were necessarily gardeners or plant-lovers! Even teenagers were tweeting about this exciting plant, which some nicknamed ‘frankenfood’. Of course, this was inaccurate, as it’s just 2 plants fixed, pegged, grafted together, so everything is 100% natural!
With our grafting projects, the next obvious step seemed to be to choose another compatible duo, and we’ve been playing with a few ideas over the last few years. And we are now ready to reveal Egg & Chips® to the world…! If this sounds utterly crazy, don’t worry we’re not talking chicken eggs! Our latest dual cropping plant pairs an aubergine (better known in the US and Europe as the Egg Plant) and potatoes. The potato base grafting actually gives the Aubergine an extra vigour boost, meaning Egg & CHIPS will produce better aubergines in the UK than a traditional aubergine plant can.
So, as well as ketchup and chips or Patatas Bravas from our Tomtato plants, you now have the components to make a really tasty aubergine and potato gratin all from one plant!
Grow your TomTato® and Egg & Chips® in patio containers, growbags (turned up on end!), on the allotment or on the veg patch. Be part of the dual cropping revolution, order your plants today, we expect them to sell out quickly!
No, your eyes do not deceive you! This is a plant which produces tomatoes AND potatoes. That’s a whole meal in one; ketchup AND chips!
Once thought of only as a horticultural phenomenon, the TomTato® is now a reality. Despite reports of ‘Frankenstein food’, the TomTato® is 100% natural and is created by grafting, a natural process which has been carried out on plants for many years.
Experts in the Netherlands take a baby potato plant and slice the top off it; they then do the same to a baby tomato plant, and finally clip the 2 together. Compatibility (both are members of the Solanaceae family) means that those 2 plants then grow together as one!
It took many years to get the TomTato® project just right though! We had to consider many things. Firstly, we needed an early tomato and a later cropping potato, as you don’t want to lift your potatoes and ruin your ripening tomato crop! Next, we had to make sure we chose just the right varieties; we needed a strong stemmed potato, which could take the weight of that bumper tomato fruit crop above! Plus, of course, we had to consider flavour- the tomato on the top of the ‘Ketchup and Chips’ plant is super sweet, with an exceptionally high brix content (measure of sweetness in fruit and veg), and a tangy flavour. It is remarkably high cropping too, 100’s of fruits per plant. The potatoes on the bottom are just as delicious; and can be boiled, mashed or roasted!
We launched the TomTato® to much fanfare in 2013, and twitter and facebook went mad for this crazy new food crop! Young and old were fascinated by this plant, which wasn’t just a novelty, but was space-saving, productive and exciting to grow!
Secure your TomTato® plants now for delivery next Spring. Hurry whist stocks last!
You could be forgiven for thinking there are only a few trees available to grow in your gardens. A quick walk around any neighbourhood sees the usual suspects; from birch to weeping willow; ornamental cherries to conifers!
Plus, trees can be thought of as huge specimens, which take over a whole garden. But, that doesn’t have to be the case; some trees are so slow-growing they’ll always stay compact, whilst others are genuinely much smaller, much like over-sized shrubs!
So, where do we start?? How about the tree that changes its clothes at least 3 times in the season? Cercidiphyllum, more colloquially known as Katsura Tree, is suitable for a small garden and will intrigue you with the way the leaves appear all along each branch! Those leaves also move from spring ruby red to summer fresh green to autumn burning embers! They also smell of toffee when crushed! I bet you can’t resist one now.
Paulownia is another remarkable tree for the small garden, admittedly only when its coppiced (cut back to base each year), but in doing this, you’ll encourage huge, elephant-ear like leaves which look tres exotic! Grown as a full-sized tree, you’d also get to enjoy the foxglove-like, purple blooms, which give it the name Foxglove Tree.
Now, when it comes to conifers, don’t consign them to the compost bin just yet! Just look at the Korean Fir, an enchanting specimen which makes a manageable tree for a small space. Super hardy and a holder of the much-coveted Royal Horticultural Society Award of Garden Merit too!
Change your cherry tree choices too; ‘Amanagowa’ is a space-saving tree, with an upright, narrow shape, bearing sexy pink blossom every spring. Conversely, the Iford Cherry is a naturally weeping tree, which looks majestic in a container. Almost saved from extinction, the Iford Cherry was bright back to production from a single stem, taken from the terraces of Iford Manor!
So, now you’ve seen a few of the manageable trees available, maybe you aren’t so scared….??
There’s nothing more rewarding than growing from seed. That moment where you see the soil surface just breaking with a fresh green shoot is beyond magical! So if you now buy your petunias and geraniums as young plants, I suggest you challenge yourself, and explore the plant world with my list of 10 unusual things to grow from seed:
The newest salad leaf, which I’m sure will be filling the salad bags in your supermarket very soon. Fresh, crunchy, rocket-style leaves with a spicy after-flavour! But, don’t worry, it isn’t as strong as the real thing! So easy to grow from seed, at any time of year, and ready to eat in just 4-5 weeks from sowing. Grow some on the windowsill, so you can devour some with every meal!
This diminutive little thing has so many different names; from mouse melon to cucamelon to mini watermelon and even Mexican sour gherkin! The vigorous plants are great for screening or patio obelisks, and are decorative in their own. But, take a peek beneath the leaves in midsummer and you’ll spy the little striped fruits, which only reach the size of a large olive and has a cucumber flavour!
If you’re a little bit impatient, then you should to grow a banana! Each plant will put on rapid growth and appears quite lush and exotic. With the right care, plants can product fruit in the UK too! Fun to grow from seed, you’ll feel all tingly from the moment that first over-sized leaf bursts through the soil!
Conversely to the banana, you’ll need a lot of patience for growing a Strelitzia! The journey from germination to flowering can take up to 7 years… Similar in appearance to a banana, but a bit more leathery, the Bird of Paradise makes a talking point in a conservatory and once that iridescent flower appears, you’ll want to invite all your friends round to have a look!
The flower colour of this unique Meconopsis just cannot be described; it is metallic and shimmers purple or blue, depending on which direction you look at it from! A connoisseur’s choice of plant; perfect for damp, shady corners.
Imagine a ‘garden-friendly’ Nasturtium and you have ‘Phoenix’! Smaller growth than the usual giant cabbage-like specimens, and the flowers are super decorative, with a serrated appearance, and in the case of yellow- FRAGRANT! Don’t forget, pretty much all parts of Nasturtiums are edible too, so jazz up your summer food plates!
Bump up your antioxidant intake with the only fully purple carrot! Purple Sun is purple right through to the core; in fact, it doesn’t look anything like a carrot! Simple to grow, really fun for kids and imagine what you could make with it; purple julienne carrots, purple carrot cake, and so on…
Another glorious metallic flower, it’s hard to believe that Turquoise Lagoon is actually a reject from a breeding programme! The delicate flowers are iridescent, with mauve, blue and pink featuring. This is the start of some very different colours for the sweet pea family, so keep your eyes peeled!
Err.. sometimes called the ‘Flower of Death’, this cheerful Lisianthus is actually an amazing seed to be able to get your hands on, as it’s the blackest of any known flower! This plant is just all about the drama; would you believe it’s way more than a metre tall too; think Nicotiana sylvestris, but black!
This one has to be seen to be believed! Again, superb, beguiling black flowers and- when you look up close- the blooms do actually resemble a bat as well! Not only that, you’ll love the vinyl-esque shiny foliage too! A nice little challenge to grow from seed!
2016 has been officially declared as ‘The Year of the Cosmos’! Throughout 2016, we expect gardeners up and down the country to be plugging gaps in their borders, in fact planting up whole borders, with these ethereal gems! And, what better way to launch the year than with the most incredible YELLOW ‘Xanthos’! But that’s not all, indulge yourself with our blog, highlighting the cream of the crop!
Cosmos ‘Xanthos’ – Flower of the Year 2016
Firstly, back to Cosmos ‘Xanthos’, a colour that was for many years the enigma of the plant world. An old, old variety called ‘Yellow Garden’ was haphazardly available, but it only bloomed during late September, which is no good for our often brief UK summers! ‘Xanthos’ now blooms from June all the way through, and with slightly smaller blooms than most Cosmos, but there’s more of them! The plants are so neat and branching too; in fact you can even grow them in a patio pot!
Cosmos ‘Sweet Sixteen’ is also another favourite of mine! The blooms are like a work of art; candy striped petals and an inner crest! As with most Cosmos, ‘Sweet Sixteen’ is lovely big, frothy plant, which fills a bed or border quickly and easily, and looks great even before the flowers start to open! They will also work fantastically as a cut flower too, and you’ll never see them in the florists I can assure you!
For a taste of almost every type, try the ‘All Sorts Mixed’, which brings together single, picotee, double and quilled formations, across a full colour palette too! Cosmos can be purchased either as seed or (for some varieties) as plants. Growing your own seed is easy though; you can even scatter straight outdoors where you intend them to flower, I think that’s known as ‘throw and sow’!
If you want something completely different though, go for Cosmos ‘Brightness Mixed’. This is a ‘sulphureus’ type Cosmos, which has an entirely different appearance, and colour palette to the everyday Cosmos varieties! Give it a try, it makes a good alternative to Marigolds, why not ring the changes in your garden!
So, that’s just a snapshot of how we think you can use Cosmos in your own garden! I personally think that everyone will be ‘cosmossing’ in 2016, so I’d recommend that you get your seeds ordered now!