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Take a tip from the gardening experts

Tokely's Tips  |  Randel Recommends  |  Sue Suggests


To find which top varieties have been recommended by our experts, click here.

Andrew Tokely - Gardening Expert

Andrew Tokely

Andrew is Head of Horticulture here at Thompson & Morgan where he sources all sorts of exciting new varieties worldwide! He has had a love of gardening since his childhood and with over 30 years of gardening experience he has become a prize-winning grower and is a regular BBC radio expert. He also often has articles published in gardening magazines, so keep your eyes peeled for him when turning the pages!

Tokely's Tips

General Seed Sowing Tips

 Mix small, fine seeds like petunia seeds and begonia seeds with a pinch of dry silver sand. This will make seed sowing much easier!

 As a general rule when sowing seeds, if you can see the seeds on the surface of the compost cover them, if you cannot see them, leave uncovered.

 Seeds are very sensitive to the extremes of over watering and under watering - try to keep the compost moisture level constant.


Flower Growing Tips

 Fine seeds like begonia seeds, lobelia seeds and poppy seeds need light to germinate so are best sown on the surface of the compost and not covered.

 Regular deadheading of flowering plants will encourage plants to keep on flowering rather than setting seedpods, resulting in a longer lasting display.

 Looking for Surfinia seeds? These are not grown from seed, so why don't you try our Petunia Velvet varieties? They perform just as well as, if not better than Surfinias.


Vegetable Growing Tips

 Remember to thin out crops like lettuce to allow the plants to grow to size. Don't waste the unwanted ‘thinnings’, as they make ideal ‘baby’ salad leaves!

 If you want to grow your veg in the shade, leafy varieties such as lettuce, spinach, swiss chard and radicchio are perfect!


Top Tips for Pests

 Planting marigolds with vegetable crops helps to deter many common garden pests.


Colin Randel - Gardening Expert

Colin Randel

Colin is the Vegetable Product Manager her at Thompson & Morgan and has over 40 years experience in the horticultural industry. He has a particular passion for vegetables, which has resulted in him becoming Chairman of the RHS Vegetable Trial and also a member of the RHS Fruit, Veg and Herb Committee.

Randel Recommends

Vegetable Growing Tips

 If you've got limited space you may be used to growing Tumbling Toms in your hanging baskets but have you tried dwarf runner beans or french beans as well?

 Maximise yields throughout the season with succession sowing. Sow salad leaves every 2-3 weeks to ensure you have a fresh supply throughout the season.

 If you're looking for easy to grow vegetables, swiss chard is extremely easy to grow and can be picked from young leaves to full maturity. Stunning in appearance, especially the 'rainbow' varieties.

 Recently bred beetroot, turnip, and kohl rabi varieties are 'eat all' - leaves, stems and bulbs. Sweet tasting - raw or cooked and no peeling - just wash and eat. Simple!

 Sow cucumber, marrow, melon and squash seeds on their edge to prevent seeds rotting.


 Some vegetable plants like parsnips and peppers take a while to germinate - be patient!


 Always plant mint in a container to stop it taking over the garden.


Pea and Bean Growing Tips

 Sow a final batch of runner beans and climbing french beans in late June/early July for autumn pickings right up until the harsh frosts.

 When direct sowing peas and beans, wait until the soil has warmed up and the risk of hard frosts has passed to speed germination.


Top Tips for Pests

 Carrot flies are low fliers, one simple deterrent is to grow carrots in large pots as carrot fly whiz past at no more than 45cm (18in) above ground level.






Sue Sanderson - Gardening Expert

Sue Sanderson

Sue works on the Thompson & Morgan web team where she provides expert knowledge and advice online. She trained at Writtle College where she received her degree, BSc. (Hons.)Horticulture. She started at Thompson & Morgan in 2008, initially looking after the grounds and coordinating the plant trials, but now she is a valuable part of the web team and even does fortnightly horticultural Q&A sessions for the Thompson & Morgan Facebook page. To find out more about Sue click here.

Sue Suggests

General Seed Sowing Tips

 In dry weather water seed drills before you sow to make sure that there is plenty of moisture exactly where the seeds need it.


Vegetable Growing Tips

 Hang cd’s on strings among your fruit and vegetable plants to scare birds away from your crops.


Use old egg cartons to stand potatoes in while they are ‘chitting’ (sprouting). They are the perfect size for seed potatoes. Click here to find out more about how to grow potatoes.

Multiply your tomato crop by ‘potting up’ the side shoots that you remove instead of throwing them away. They will quickly root into their pots and you will have extra plants to grow or give to friends and family.


Garden Planning Tips

 Choose plants based on the type of conditions that your site can provide. Forcing sun lovers to grow in shade, or bog plants in your gravel garden will only lead to disappointment.

 If you are not sure what will grow well in your garden, take a walk through your neighbourhood and see what works in other peoples gardens. The growing conditions are likely to be fairly similar to your own.

Tokely's Tip - Swiss Chard is an ideal vegetable to grow in the shade.

Tokely's Tip - Swiss Chard is an ideal vegetable to grow in the shade.


Tokely's Tip - Fine seeds like Lobelia need light to germinate so are best sown on the surface of the compost and not covered.

Tokely's Tip - Lobelia seeds are best sown on the surface of the compost.


Tokely's Tip - Try growing Petunia Velvet from seed. It performs just as well as Surfinias!

Tokely's Tip - Try growing Petunia Velvet from seed. It performs just as well as Surfinias!


Randel Recommends - Try growing dwarf runner beans in hanging baskets if space is limited

Randel Recommends - Try growing dwarf runner beans in hanging baskets if space is limited.


Randel Recommends - Sow squash seeds on their edge to prevent rotting

Randel Recommends - Sow squash seeds on their edge to prevent rotting.


Randel Recommends - Sow salad leaves every 2-3 weeks to ensure you have a fresh supply throughout the season

Randel Recommends - Sow salad leaves every 2-3 weeks to ensure you have a fresh supply throughout the season.



Sue Suggests - Use old egg cartons for chitting potatoes

Sue Suggests - Use old egg cartons for chitting potatoes.


Sue Suggests - Pot up side shoots from tomato plants and you will have extra plants to grow or give to friends and family.

Sue Suggests - Pot up side shoots from tomato plants and you will have extra plants to grow or give to friends and family.

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