Take a behind-the-scenes look at our trial grounds and find out what we do to introduce new vegetables into our range!
At Thompson & Morgan we test hundreds of different types of vegetable to find out which ones will be good enough to offer to our customers. It can take many years to get a new vegetable into the range - from the initial search for varieties to getting enough good quality seed to ensure that customers will get a tasty and healthy crop of vegetables.
We trial approximately 950 flowers and vegetables each year at our trial grounds in Ipswich and they really are put to the test - minimal watering, no pesticides or chemicals, just some compost added to the beds when they are rotavated in late autumn. This is so that we can get a true picture of how a variety is going to perform in the garden - we want to see what works! The plants might be protected with fleece when necessary, but otherwise they are left to their own devices. The horticultural team will keep an eye on the vegetable plants throughout the growing season and regularly check how they are performing - reliability, yield, resistance to diseases, taste, appearance and how long the crops will stand without bolting are important factors in deciding whether a plant will be introduced to the range. At the end of the season our team of breeders will consider which varieties to introduce into the range and which ones need further trialling. Once the trials are over, the plants are dug up and added to the compost heap.
Growing vegetables in containers has become increasingly popular in recent years and every year we have mini vegetables in our trial grounds, either in containers or in our 'square-foot gardening area' in the Suffolk Garden. We've even started growing them in Flower Pouches™! Visitors to our Open Weekend in 2010 saw tomatoes, beans, lettuce, strawberries and even beetroot growing in them. We watered the plants using a drip-feed irrigation system and the vegetables were producing good, healthy crops.
If you'd like to give vertical vegetable growing a go, why not try our Vertical Vegetable Collection? For just £13.99 you'll get 5 Flower Pouches™, a packet each of Runner Bean Hestia, Lettuce Ultimate, Dwarf Bean Golden Teepee, Salad Leaves and 5 plants of Tomato Tasty Tumbler, saving you £17.35!.
Or take a look at our Kew Urban Garden Collection - a range of vegetables specially designed for growing on the patio or balcony.
Heritage vegetables are making a come-back and with the relaxation of regulations on selling heritage varieties, we are delighted to be able to offer some of the traditional, truly tasty and sought-after vegetable favourites of yesteryear. So what exactly is a heritage variety? It's a variety that has been nurtured, selected and handed down through the generations, usually a pre-1950 introduction, many of which that until now have been lost to gardeners. We test possible heritage varieties in our trial grounds before we consider reintroducing them. What better time to get back to some tried, tested and trusted varieties of old?