In all my years introducing brand-new products, I mostly focused on flowers, the world of vegetables was a little bit more of a mystery to me. That’s why I really enjoyed visiting Pro-Veg Seeds week, and delved into their vegetable trials. Andrew gave me a fantastic tour, and I picked up all sorts of hints and tips, and a few unusual facts as well. Enjoy!
1. Touch-Free Tomatoes!
Many people find tomatoes high maintenance, the constant removal of the side shoots can be a lot of work, and if you miss one, you suddenly have a jungle on your hands. These new tomato strains are designed to be grown without any pruning or training, and they will produce tomatoes with a good flavour and in abundance. Simply erect a tomato frame for growing on, and Bob’s yer uncle!
2. Yellow Cauli-Flowers!
Okay, when I first saw this I thought they were a novelty. They’ve even started selling them in the supermarkets you know! This new variety ‘Clementine’ is sweet, can be eaten fresh, and keeps its colour upon cooking.
3. Stir-fry Cauliflower
The success of Tenderstem Broccoli has been phenomenal, and it’s now the most prominent vegetable brand in existence. You can grow variety called ‘Tenderette’ at home, which is similar. But how about cauliflower in that same format?? This variety is called ‘Floretto’, and it’s really exciting! Perfect for stir-fries, and busy parents…
4. Slicing Onions
What’s the main problem with onions when you sliced them? They slip around, and if you’re not careful you could slice your finger off! This fantastic variety is perfect for slicing thanks to its cylinder shape, and it’s easy peel too. It’s name is ‘Elista’!
5. Semi-Leafless Peas
Did you know that you can get better crops on your peas when you choose a variety that is semi-leafless? Rather than putting energy into the foliage, it puts it into the pea crop. Plants can also be more self-supporting too, as the tendrils create their own climbing network! Give it a go, perfect for patios too!
6. Silky Turnips
I couldn’t believe the texture and flavour of this one! It’s a variety of Turnip called ‘Silky Sweet’, and it really is just that. When you bite into the raw root, it’s soft and liquidy, sweet and amazing. Like nothing else!
7. How to Pick Dwarf Beans
Did you know that most commercial dwarf been varieties are bred so that the whole plant is harvested at one time, so everything ripens at once? This makes it easier for machinery, but it also makes harvesting for the home and garden easier too. No more missing over-ripe beans!
8. Milky Sweetcorn
Supermarket types of sweetcorn are selected for machine harvest, and durability. Home garden varieties don’t need that durability, because you’re going to pick them sooner, and enjoy them sooner. There is more focus on flavour for home garden culture, and this one was incredible! Fresh from the plant, the kernels were milky and sweet, I loved it!
9. UK-grown Tofu
You can make your own tofu in England! This variety of soya bean is called ‘Tofina’, and will harvest in English weather conditions. Isn’t that incredible??
10. Decorative Chillies
Now these plants were pretty cool, they are also variegated, so have speckles and stripes on the leaves. But that’s not all, the fruit also has the same markings! A really, really cool novelty.
11. Rosebud Lettuces
Not only do these lettuces look nice, but they take up less space. They are perfect for container growing, and smaller urban spaces.
12. Baby Leaves
There are still lots of trials with baby leaves, including some you may not expect. This is exciting for the consumer, and certainly jazzes up those plastic bags of soggy Lollo Rossa!
13. Microsun Orange Sunflowers
It’s not all about vegetables either! Look closely at the photo of this new plant, it’s Sunflower in a glowing orange colour! Very different and refreshing to the usual yellow. Not to mention that, but it’s also multi branching, with up to 15 individual blooms on a plant. The ultimate pot and bedding sunflower!
Michael has been involved with gardening and plants since he was just five years old. He is a self-professed Plant Geek, and was listed in the Sunday Times top 20 most influential people in the gardening world, thanks to his plant hunter role at Thompson & Morgan.
Michael was responsible for new plant introductions such as the Egg and Chips plant and the FuchsiaBerry and keeps busy travelling the world in search of new plants as well as lecturing worldwide, including stints in Japan. He is very active on social media – so why not give him a follow at @mr_plantgeek or Facebook. You can also listen to The Plant Based Podcast with Michael and co-host Ellen-Mary on iTunes, Spotify and Google.