Grow Your Own still on the rise as seed firm reports strongest ever start to retail year
Seed and plant specialist Thompson & Morgan is predicting the best ever year for grow your own following a sharp rise in vegetable seeds sales for the 2016 season.
The Thompson & Morgan seed retailing year runs September to September. The Ipswich based mail order expert has reported an impressive 24 per cent rise in seed sales through September to end of November 2015, compared to the same period in 2014. While flower seed sales remain strong it is vegetable seed that has driven the increase.
Interest in grow your own hit an all time high in 2009, when industry wide sales of vegetable seeds peaked at an historic £60million for the year. Some said the bubble would soon burst but Thompson & Morgan customers are showing no sign of giving up on the good life. Thompson & Morgan Horticultural Director Paul Hansord says if vegetable seed sales continue to perform at current levels then the firm will be reporting its best ever year for the category.
Tomato seeds sales have jumped 51 per cent in the three month period. Much of this growth has been generated by sales of Thompson & Morgan’s Vegetable of the Year for 2016 – Tomato Mountain Magic, a fully blight resistant variety ideal for a trouble-free late season outdoor crop. Akron and Sweet Aperitif join with blight buster to form T&Ms top three tomatoes.
Brassica seed sales have risen 52 per cent, while onion seeds have seen an impressive growth of 67 per cent. T&M says the loss of show bench favourite Onion Kelsae from other retailer’s 2016 catalogues (the Italian seed crop was destroyed by a hail storm and will not be available again until at least 2017) has driven growers towards other large varieties including Onion Bunton’s Showstopper, an exclusive show bench variety developed by one of Thompson & Morgan’s customers. Pea and Bean sales have risen 82 per cent, with Runner Bean Firestorm - the 2016 Thompson and Morgan Seed Catalogue cover star - alone seeing a 75 per cent rise in sales.
Thompson & Morgan’s Chilli and Pepper range has seen the biggest growth, with sales rising a staggering 111 per cent. This has been driven by a complete overhaul of the category for 2016. Paul said: “Much of our product development focus has been on making growing from seed as easy as possible. Our redesigned sweet and hot pepper range does away with the complicated Scoville Heat scale. Each variety has been given a 1-10 heat rating, from cool & sweet to explosive, allowing gardeners to make a quick informed decision on which varieties are right for them.
Thompson & Morgan is also helping veg growers to take the guesswork out of crop timings in 2016 with All Season Vegetable Collections. Each packet contains at least three top- performing varieties of the same vegetable that can all be sown in one hit but will crop at different stages to give the longest harvest window from a single sowing. The All Season Mange Tout Pea collection for example contains Oregon Sugar Pod, Sweet Horizon and Kennedy for a 16 week harvest from June through to October, while the All Season Leeks collection provides a massive 36 week crop window from August through to the following April.
Thompson & Morgan has a long history as market leader in the mail order supply of seed and young plants, direct to gardener’s doors since 1855. Its award winning website and seasonal catalogues have undergone a massive product expansion through 2015, now listing 10,000+ items covering most areas of garden supply, from sheds, greenhouses and mature plants to garden machinery, composts, fertilisers and hand tools.
Despite this, Paul says Thompson & Morgan remains committed to offering the best selection of garden seeds on the market. He says: “Seed sowing is economy-proof, remaining core to our customers’ garden experience in both good and bad years. Nothing beats the satisfaction of nurturing a seasonal crop from plot to plate, especially when you can make a huge saving against supermarket produce and slash your weekly spend.”
Source: Thompson & Morgan
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