Blogs We Love

Here at Thompson & Morgan we love to check out other blogs. There are so many great allotment and gardening bloggers out there, it would be a shame not to share what they do with you – here are just a few of our favourites.

Wildflowers masterclass: best expert content

Wildflower mixture from T&M

Wildflowers are a colourful addition to the garden
Image: Wildflower mixture from Thompson & Morgan

Wildflowers are beautiful, colourful and a great way to attract beneficial insects to your outside space. Pick up tips on how to grow them in your garden, allotment, or even in an old wheelbarrow using these independent articles, videos and Instagram posts for inspiration. 

If you want to create your own annual or perennial wildflower meadow, take a quick look at our pre-prepared wildflower mixes for a quick and easy option. Alternatively, choose your favourite single varieties, like poppies, from our full range of quality wildflower seeds.

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The ultimate guide to preserving fresh produce

Collection of preserved vegetables and fruits

Everything you need to know to preserve fresh produce for your freezer and pantry
Image: Shutterstock

What better way to deal with a glut, eat healthy food, and be more self-sufficient than by preserving your seasonal harvests? Here we take a look at five different ways to make the most of your fruit and vegetable plants by preserving the surplus for future use. 

From freezing to pickling, and drying to bottling, we give you the basics of each method. We’ve also asked some of our favourite bloggers to share their handy hints – preserving is easy, fun and guaranteed to make winter meals way more tasty.

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The best way to preserve apples

Apple 'Appletini' from T&M

You can do a lot with a bumper crop of apples
Image: Apple ‘Appletini’ from Thompson & Morgan

If you’re wondering what to do with a bumper haul of apples, never fear, there are plenty of ways to preserve your crop. We turned to some of our favourite bloggers for advice, asking them how they deal with an apple glut. 

Here are some of the best ways to store and preserve this most traditional of British fruits, along with top tips from those who’ve been there, done that and have the chutney to show for it! Inspired to grow a few more varieties? Take a look at our excellent selection of apple trees here.

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The best way to preserve tomatoes

Tomatoes in a bowl

Mandy’s cooked tomato passata is a great way to use cherry tomatoes
Image: MandyCanUDigIt

Wondering what to do with a glut of tomatoes? Lovely as it is to receive a bumper harvest of any crop, when it all comes at once, you can’t possibly eat it all. Friends and neighbours will only take so much, and it’s such a shame to see all your delicious food go past its best and end up on the compost heap. 

We asked gardening bloggers what they do when they haven’t been able to resist growing too many tomato plants. If you’re looking for new ways to preserve your tomatoes, here are six great ideas to try…

  1. Homemade passata
  2. Dried tomatoes
  3. Tomato chutney
  4. Tomato relish
  5. Pickled tomatoes
  6. Tomato-based ‘ready meals’

1. Homemade passata

Homemade tomato passata

Homemade passata can be frozen or preserved in jars and bottles
Image: Tin & Thyme

A central part of a Mediterranean diet, passata offers a taste of summer and is the perfect base for pasta sauces, chillies and more. For the true Italian method, wash and prep your tomatoes, removing the seeds, then blanch them in boiling water until they soften and the skins begin to peel. Now push through a sieve or mouli, until only the skins remain.

Sterilise your storage jars or bottles, add a leaf or two of fresh basil to each, and stir salt into the tomato paste just before pouring. Fill your jars to within a couple of centimetres of the top, then seal and boil for at least half an hour and allow to cool overnight.

Looking for a quicker result? Choclette, from Tin & Thyme makes her easy tomato sauce by blitzing all the raw ingredients in a blender before reducing it at a low simmer on the hob. See her recipe for the full method, and to discover why a dash of tamari can make all the difference to the final flavour!

Short on freezer space? Mandy, at MandyCanUDigIt, also uses the hob to produce a deliciously rich and super-concentrated tomato sauce that’s suitable for freezing. For full instructions check out her post on how to deal with a bumper crop of tomatoes.

And if you’re going to preserve anything successfully, you’ll need to know how to sterilise your bottles and jars. Choclette’s detailed instructions over at Tin & Thyme will help you with the process, whether you prefer the dishwasher, oven, microwave or water bath method. As she says, “there’s nothing more disappointing than opening a jar of mould.”

2. Dried tomatoes

Dehydrated tomato crisps

Monika makes tomato crisps using a dehydrator
Image: @monikabrzoza

One of the best ways to preserve tomatoes is to dehydrate them, says Carla Whitehouse from @flowers_and_veg_at_no_57.The ancient practice of removing moisture from fresh fruit and veg, meat and fish, read Carla’s post explaining how dehydrating fresh food stops “micro-organisms like yeast, mould, and bacteria from growing, and preserves food for future use while keeping nutrients intact.”

Monika Brzoza, who shares beautiful photography via @monikabrzoza (and runs a professional gardening business via @BloomingSistersLondon) says dehydrating is also her favourite preservation method. She stores her dried tomatoes in herb oil with some chillies added or loose in airtight jars – oh, and she saves some to serve as crisps which she says taste lovely sprinkled with salt and garlic pepper!

If you don’t have a dehydrator, simply use your oven to dry your tomato glut. Just cut into slices and spread in a single layer over a baking tray or rack, and pop them in the oven on a low heat until brittle. Kev at An English Homestead says he “dries carrots and tomatoes to use in stews and soups. I store these in jars so no plastic is used and I have some open-fronted shelves in a purpose-built pantry so we know how much we have left.

3. Tomato chutney

Tomato chutney on black pepper cracker

Katie at The Marmalade Teapot makes this delicious tomato chutney
Image: The Marmalade Teapot

Who can resist the aroma from a bubbling pan of spicy tomato chutney? Katie at The Marmalade Teapot says: “one of my favourite & most popular preserves is my tomato chutney. It’s great with cheese, in sandwiches, salads or even tossed through some pasta. I like to pot this up into little chutney jars & give away as gifts over the festive period.” Does that sound tempting? Head over to Katie’s blog for the full method – this is a really delicious recipe that anyone can try.

4. Tomato relish

Spicy tomato chutney

Eli and Kate relish the opportunity to make…relish
Image: In the Garden with Eli and Kate

If you like a little heat, you might also consider making this spicy tomato relish. Over at the popular blog and YouTube channel, In the Garden with Eli and Kate, the ladies used up the last of the beefsteak ‘Marmane’ tomatoes from their greenhouse by doing just that.

You’ll need to skin your tomatoes for this recipe. An easy process, Eli says all you need to do is, “make a cross in the bottom then put them in boiling water for 30 seconds. Take them out and plunge them in ice water for 30 seconds. The skin comes right off.” Do check out their blog post for the full instructions.

A good tip for home chutney-makers comes courtesy of Richard from The Veg Grower Podcast. He prefers a long slow cook to release all the flavours, and so uses a slow cooker. If you do have to use a large saucepan, he says, “one key thing I learned is that when making chutneys over a few hours, make sure to give the mixture a little stir every now and then so as not to let the mixture catch.”

5. Pickled tomatoes

Man holding tomatoes in box

Sam Corfield is a huge fan of pickled tomatoes
Image: @the_hairy_horticulturist

Sam, aka the Hairy Horticulturist, is a big fan of pickling. He says, “you might disagree but I believe you can pickle anything and I’m a big fan of pickled onions, beetroot, cabbage, cucumber, tomatoes and cucamelons… Grab some vinegar, reuse some glass jars and discover endless recipes online! Get on, give it a try, you won’t regret it.

When people think of pickles, they often think of hard veg like onions or beetroot, but you can easily pickle tomatoes too. Looking for a recipe? Head over to BBC Food for full ingredients and instructions from much-loved cookery expert Nigel Slater – all you need is vinegar, pickling spice, sterilised glass jars, a saucepan and a sense of culinary adventure.

6. Tomato-based ‘ready meals’

Collection of tomato and garlic

Rich tomato-based ready meals are a winter life-saver says Claire Crawford
Image: @sowing_at_the_stoop

Because tomatoes make such a great base for sauces and stews, it’s a good idea to batch cook your glut and freeze it down so that you’ve always got a tasty home-made ready meal waiting for you in the freezer when you’re late home from work, or in too much of a rush to cook from scratch. Richard at The Veg Grower Podcast told us that he likes to stock his freezer with homemade curries, stews and bolognaise to see him through the cold winter months.

Claire Crawford, at @sowing_at_the_stoop, makes a great pasta sauce which she pops into the freezer ready for dark winter evenings. The method? “Roast tomatoes and courgettes with onions and garlic, and some fresh rosemary in a little oil.” Bake for 30 minutes at 180 degrees until the tomatoes begin to caramelise. Once they’ve cooled, blitz with a hand blender, and freeze. Claire says, “it’s delicious stirred through pasta for a meat-free meal, or poured over cod and baked again in the oven.”

Andrew Oldham at Life on Pig Row uses a similar recipe and technique – he says “Remember that this sauce will reduce more when you come to cook it again so add water to the pan and cook it through before adding to cooking meat.

We hope our suggestions on preserving tomatoes give you some great ideas for dealing with your own tomato glut. Whether you decide to freeze, dry, pickle, oven roast or stew your fruit, do make sure you use it up. As Andrew says, even if your tomatoes are a little past their best, “don’t chuck them, sauce them!”

Eight best chutney recipes

Chutney in kilner jars

Turn your gluts into chutney and enjoy the taste of summer for seasons to come
Image: Angyalosi Beata/Shutterstock

Originating in India, chutney was brought back to Britain during colonial times and quickly became a popular way to preserve gluts of fresh produce. Not only does the delicious flavour liven up any dish, chutney is a great way to avoid waste and enjoy healthy, seasonal ingredients throughout the entire year. 

There’s still time to get growing – order a few garden ready vegetable plants to pop into gaps in your veg patch, herbaceous border or patio containers. And when you’re ready, here are 8 chutney recipes, courtesy of some of our favourite bloggers, to help you preserve your healthy homegrown produce at its best:

  1. Spiced apple chutney
  2. Rhubarb chutney
  3. Runner bean chutney
  4. Tomato chutney
  5. Summer chutney
  6. Turnip chutney
  7. Beetroot chutney
  8. Spicy Christmas chutney

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Broccoli and calabrese masterclass: best expert content

Organic Broccoli 'Green Sprouting' (Calabrese) from Thompson & Morgan

Calabrese broccoli is a nutritious summer crop
Image: Organic Broccoli ‘Green Sprouting’ (Calabrese) from Thompson & Morgan

Growing your own vitamin-packed calabrese and sprouting broccoli is easier than you might think. To help you succeed, we’ve rounded up some top tips on sowing, planting, feeding and harvesting your broccoli. Produced by independent garden bloggers and experienced vegetable growers, these nuggets of wisdom will ensure you get the most from your crops. 

Ready to get started? Visit our online range of brassica & leafy green seeds to check out our new hybrid and classic broccoli varieties. And if you’re short for time, simply order a few brassica & leafy green plants to get a bit of a head start.

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Lemons masterclass: best expert content

Mediterranean Fruit Collection from T&M

Lemons make an attractive patio plant
Image: Mediterranean Fruit Collection from Thompson & Morgan

Whether you want a twist of lemon in your gin and tonic or something to squeeze over your paella, planting a lemon tree is a great way to make sure you have an easy supply of zesty fruits within easy reach. To help you grow your own exotic lemons here in the UK, we’ve put together this fantastic selection of independent articles, videos and Instagram posts packed with pruning advice, feeding guidance and troubleshooting tips.

And when you’re ready to try your hand at lemon growing, check out our collection of quality citrus trees, including dwarf varieties that are ideal for patio containers.

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Shrubs masterclass: best expert content

Hydrangea ‘Runaway Bride’ from Thompson & Morgan

Award-winning Hydrangea ‘Runaway Bride’ is the perfect flowering shrub for a container
Image: Hydrangea ‘Runaway Bride’ from Thompson & Morgan

If you’re looking for ways to add low-maintenance interest to your garden, shrubs are ideal. Brimming with expert advice, we’ve brought together this collection of articles, Instagram posts and videos to help you choose the perfect varieties.

Whether you want evergreen structure, winter colour or container shrubs to liven up your patio, here’s everything you need to help you choose, plant, prune and care for your shrubs. For more inspiration, browse our wide range of online shrub plants including evergreen, winter-flowering, climbing, scented, and many more…

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Pond plants masterclass: best expert content

Water Lily (White) from T&M

Water lilies are quintessential deep water pond plants
Image: Water Lily (White) from Thompson & Morgan

Whether you want to attract wildlife to your garden or create a unique focal point, a pond is a great way to introduce a whole new range of plants to your outdoor space. Here are some of the best independent videos, articles and posts to help you plan a new water feature or spruce up an existing one. Before you start digging, browse our excellent range of native and exotic pond plants for inspiration.

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Wisteria masterclass: best expert content

Wisteria floribunda 'Domino' from Thompson & Morgan

Wisteria flowers are highly scented and look fantastic trailing en masse
Image: Wisteria floribunda ‘Domino’ from Thompson & Morgan

Find everything you need to grow fabulous wisteria here. From troubleshooting flowering issues to keeping these vigorous climbers under control with correct pruning techniques, these independent articles, videos and Instagram posts are packed with useful tips. And if you’re tempted to plant one of these glorious vines in your own garden, take a look at our full range of wisteria shrubs for inspiration. 

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The T&M blog has a wealth of knowledgeable contributors. Find out more about them on our "Meet the experts" page.

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