Thursday, December 17, 2009

How to Start Zinnias from seed

Zinnias are easy to start, as long as you remember they don’t like having their roots disturbed, so you’ll need to be extremely careful when transplanting them. You can either direct-sow them after the last frost, or start them indoors, using grow plugs, which can be planted directly into the garden when the time comes.

Start them no more than four weeks before your area’s last-frost date; zinnias grow quickly and, if started too soon, will become leggy and root bound. Prepare grow plugs by moistening them thoroughly, and then place the seeds in the pre-formed holes. Zinnia seeds don’t need light for germination, so you can sow the seeds on the plugs and cover them with a thin layer of vermiculite or peat.

Place the potted seeds in an area that is 75-78°F and most will sprout in 5-7 days (some varieties require 7-10 days). Don’t water them from above; let them absorb water from the trays the plugs are sitting in.

Once the seeds have sprouted, place the seed trays under grow lights or near a sunny window. When the seedlings have one or two sets of true leaves, thin out the weaker plants and leave the strongest seedlings. As the zinnia plants get bigger, encourage root development by allowing the soil to dry slightly between waterings.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

New Thompson & Morgan Website Launch!

Ladies and gentlemen, we are proud to present the NEW Thompson & Morgan web site! We’ve all been working hard to bring you an easier and faster website for all your Thompson & Morgan seed needs. I think you’ll find the layout much more appealing and the navigation easier to use.

Let us know what you think in the comments section below. More gardening tips, product announcements and great deals are on the way, so check back here often!

This year is our 155th anniversary, and we look forward to continuing to help you in the garden! 

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Announcing Our New Canadian Website

Recently, we have launched a website designed exclusively for our Canadian customers.

If you live in Canada, please visit today for all your Thompson & Morgan needs.

If you are based in the United States, please continue to shop at

We look forward to helping you in the garden this upcoming season (Our 155th!)

-The Staff at Thompson & Morgan

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Introducing Delphinium 'Centurion Lilac Blue Bicolor' F1 Hybrid

We've launched another season of seed starting - our 155th! One of the New & Exclusive varieties we have is a cottage garden favorite. Delphinium 'Centurion Lilac Blue Bicolor' F1 Hybrid (above) is a variety any cottage garden enthusiast would adore.

Delphinium 'Centurion Lilac Blue Bicolor' is one of the highest quality Delphiniums from seed, equal in quality to those often-expensive cutting-raised plants. It grows 150cm (5 ft) tall with sturdy stems clothed in lovely bi colored blooms rarely seen before from seed.

The duplex flower (triple layered petals) are a gorgeous combination of lilac and fluorescent blue shade with a distinctive white central bee. Delphinium 'Centurion Lilac Blue Bicolor' F1 Hybrid will flower in the first year form July to September if sown by the end of February. The plants will bloom form late May to mid July in the second year. (Hardy Perennial, Zones 4-7)

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Sarian Strawberries

Here's an article that mentions Thompson & Morgan and Strawberry 'Sarian' that made it's way into the Washington Post last week.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Preparing for the 2010 Season

After battling a wet and cloudy summer, the 2010 season is close at hand.

(We did manage to a little yardwork in between the rain drops. )

Our entire staff has been very busy getting ready. There's always lots to do - designing the catalog, stocking the shelves with fresh seeds, looking for (& buying) new garden supplies we'd think you'd love, touching base with our Retail customers...the list goes on and on.

Here are just a few behind-the-scenes shots of life here at Thompson & Morgan along with a bit of Fall cheer from our 'Mum'.

Vita Sementi seeds just waiting to be packed & shipped to Independent Garden Centers everywhere. Want to know who's selling our seeds locally? Click here to find out.

These are just a few racks of seeds that are home to packets which get sent off to Mail Order & Internet customers all over Canada and the United States.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

T&M Gardener Success Story

We received a very nice e mail from Suzanne in Oregon who wanted to tell us about her success with our Vita Sementi Tomato 'Costoluto Genovese' as well as 'Brandywine' and 'Super Marmande'

Suzanne writes ....

Last spring was my first attempt at growing tomatoes from seed. I took advantage of a free shipping offer and purchased Brandywine, Super Marmande and Constoluto Genovese. I live in an area where the soil does not warm up until late May.

Germination was very successful, and by mid-May, I had over almost 30 3-4' tall plants in my small greenhouse, most in flower, with Constoluto Genovese setting fruit. My garden is small, and I was able to give tomato plants to co-workers, relatives and friends. One friend has an ideal spot for them - on the south-facing side of a metal building that receives no shade. He has been giving friends and customers tomatoes from all three varieties. Brandywine was the last to set fruit and have ripened in the last 10 days or so. I've also been providing tomatoes to friends, co-workers and neighbors.

Though by this time of year, I am weary of watering during our dry summers, I can hardly wait until next spring to try a couple of different varieties. I experience such a thrill from growing plants from seed. It is a miracle to me to watch a small dry seed germinate and grow into a thriving, productive plant.

Congratulations on your tomato success story Suzanne. We appreciate the feedback! And we're sure your friends, co-workers and neighbors appreciated your tomato crop. We hope you are just as successful next growing season.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Drying & Preserving Herbs

This weekend I was in the garden, up to my elbows, harvesting herbs. Even with my neighbor snipping his way through the herb garden this summer, there was a pile of basil, rosemary, mint and thyme remaining.
Since you can only do so much with Pesto, here's an article about preserving herbs that provided some helpful ideas.

Friday, September 18, 2009

'Mr. Majestic' Gets Some Love & A First Place Win

Tagetes 'Mr. Majestic' received some kudos from one of our Canadian customers earlier this week we'd like to share. Who doesn't like some good news at the end of the week?

Here's how 'Mr.Majestic' is described on our website:

From T&M's own breeding program - Awarded the FLEUROSELECT QUALITY MARK.
Many gardeners have grown T&M's Marigold 'Striped Marvel' since it was introduced in 1992. It is a novel Marigold seed, ideal for cut flowers and the back of borders and bedding. We are proud to introduce ' Mr Majestic', a dwarf version of 'Striped Marvel.'

A fantastic compact bedding plant or ideal for containers around the garden. It is a welcome change from pure oranges and lemons and one which is bound to get the neighbors talking! Flowers summer. Height 30cm (12in).


Here's the e-mail we received from Dawn :

" These seeds are a real testament to TM quality. We purchased them many years ago, they were sent to us in the West Indies. Opened and resealed the packet numerous times. Last weekend, on Vancouver Island, British Columbia, won first place in our regional fall fair - flowers from plants from seeds from the original packet."

We're always grateful to have the gardening community share their stories with us. Many thanks to Dawn for contacting us. Congratulations on the first place win!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Saying Goodbye to Summer

The signs an end to another summer have sprouted up - The kids are back to school and there's Halloween candy in the stores. You may not be as busy as you once were in the garden either. Now is a great time to take stock of what areas of your garden need a little boost.
Just take the time to take a quick look. It's so beneficial to note what worked (and what didn't) while jotting a few notes down. Once seed catalog time begins you'll be sitting at the kitchen table or browsing online, pouring over all the choices thinking to yourself ' Hmm, I wish I knew where I could add this.'

Another activity to do this time of year is to take a garden tour. The Garden Conservancy offers an Open Days program where you can visit (depending on where you live) some of the most beautiful private gardens around.

There are also All-America Selections display gardens in the US & Canada to visit. Choose from over 200 AAS gardens and see many award winning varieties up close & personal. When it comes time to buy seeds, you know exactly what AAS selections you'll want.

Our friends at have this great calendar of events page where you can check to see if there are any classes, lectures, farmers markets or tours happening in your area. Speaking of farmers markets, visit to search for farmers' markets, family farms, and other sources of sustainably grown food in your area.

Finally, why not start your compost pile when leaves and yard clippings are everywhere? Don't let good compost material go to waste.

This convenient pop-up composter is easy to use. Just remove the lightweight carrying case, let it pop open and peg it to the ground. You'll be composting in minutes.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

The IGC Show & Our 2010 Catalog

Special Thanks to National Geographic for the photo. We didn't have time to take photos of Chicago!

Last week we exhibited at the Independent Garden Center Show in Chicago. This show attracts garden center owners/buyers from all over the country to take part in discussions about industry trends as well as introduce them to the latest garden themed products for next year. Here are some photos of Melanie & Mark manning the booth. We were so busy, we forgot to bring the digital camera, so let's give thanks to the cell phone camera!

The turnout was great! We saw/met/talked with a ton of people including Mel Bartholomew, creator of the Square Foot Gardening system. Patti Moreno, the Garden Girl was also there checking out the most interesting wheelbarrow we've seen in the booth next to us. We also talked with Mr Brown Thumb, a Chicago-based garden blogger who posted some kind words about our Vita Sementi Italian seed range. Read his post here.

There were some really great garden supply items we saw at the show that are going into our 2010 catalog. But our lips are sealed as far as what they are for just a little bit longer!

Speaking of which, our 2010 catalog is in full design mode. Right now we've been busy crossing all the t's and dotting all the i's - making sure every page is chock full of seed varieties you'll love to grow & must have garden gadgets. We're really excited about the new redesign/look of it and we hope you are as well. If you haven't reserved your copy yet, add your name to our mailing list by clicking here.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Thompson & Morgan's UK Trial Ground Open Weekend

Every year we carry out extensive trials to assess possible new introductions and ensure the varieties already in our range are still performing at the highest level. As well as seeing the new and exclusive varieties for our 2010 range, visitors to our Trial Open Ground Weekend in the UK also get a glimpse of newly developed experimental varieties, some of which have not been seen before outside of the trade.
This year over 10,000 people visited our UK Headquarters last weekend. If you couldn't catch a flight out of town to see if for yourself, don't worry! Enjoy these exclusive photos.

The Flower Tower (shown above) stands over 40 feet tall and was created entirely out of petunias planted up in our flower pouches.

As you can see in these photos, every square inch of space is covered .

This wall, much like the flower tower is created using our flower pouches.

Friday, July 31, 2009

Begonia 'Scentsation Mixed' : A Hit with the T&M Staff

This past March, we were so excited to find out The New York Times wrote an article mentioning Begonia 'Scentsation Mixed'. Several employees decided to grow the tubers for themselves and have gotten wonderful results.

I'm happy to report my begonias (shown above) have a delightful lemon fragrance that wafts onto my porch every morning. There's about 4 flowers open so far with another 6-8 flowers waiting in the wings.

Kathy L. , from our accounting department, has these Begonias peeking out from her backyard containers:

We'll post more photos to come we they become available. We're hoping that Begonia 'Scentation Mixed' is available in the 2010 catalog! (coming out in the fall) If you have any photos, please show us them!!

Happy Gardening,

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Rudbeckia Growing Tips From A T&M Customer

John H. e-mailed these photos, showing his success with our Rudbeckia seeds. The top photo is Cherokee Sunset, which he noted was re-blooming this year. Rudbeckia 'Cherry Brandy' (below) is also taking shape in his garden, so we asked how he got such wonderful blooms.

Cherry Brandy RudbeckiaJohn writes ....

"Cherry Brandy RudbeckiaLast year and this I started the seed in February under grow lights. The seedlings were transplanted a couple times into larger divided plastic grow pots--the last were about 3" .
When they were about 6" tall I started hardening them off in May, then planted them at the end of May. I've learned to plant them where my garden is dryer and not too damp. A number of 'Cherokee Sunset' started last year wintered over nicely and are full of blooms this year
I hope this year's 'Cherry Brandy' do the same."

Monday, July 27, 2009

1989 Was A Very Fine Year......For Seed

Here's one for the 'Believe It or Not' file.

We received an interesting e mail today from a person who likes to experiment with seed germination. They placed 2 seeds of Melon T&M Gaylia F1 Hybrid on a moist paper towel in a re-sealable plastic bag on top of the refrigerator. The first one germinated in 7 days and the other in 17 days.

While that doesn't seem out of the ordinary, here's where it gets interesting. This person received the seed from us back in July 1989- 20 years ago. The seeds had been kept at room temperature in the original packet with the foil inner packet since then.

After some searching in the Thompson & Morgan library, I found the original catalog description for this item:

Now that's impressive!

Monday, July 20, 2009

T&M Gardener Success Stories

Here are just a few more T&M Garden Successes we received this week.
- Simon in our home state of New Jersey, sent us this great video of sunflowers he grew with our seed. We can't believe how tall they are! Click on the photo below to see the video.

- Elaine from Terrace, B.C. Canada e-mailed us these wonderfully spectacular photos. The first two are Eschscholzia californica "Strawberry Fields" (#6260):

Elaine also had a bonus surprise in her garden - this wonderful mystery poppy shown below.

This poppy was sown from one of our seed packets, in wildflower corner with the hopes of a prolonged flowering period. We just love the white edging and pink blooms. Our horticulturist, Susan can't stop talking about them!

We want to know how our seed is doing in your garden. And if you'll let us, we'll post your photos just like Simon & Elaine. Many thanks to them for letting us share their photos.
You can email us your photos, videos & stories by clicking here.

Happy Gardening to All!

Share the Spoils of Your Vegetable Garden

Is your veg garden producing more than you can eat?
If so, visit Ample and help a US citizen in need.

One out of eight Americans need food assistance while millions of gardeners grow more than they could ever eat. Ample Harvest locates food pantries in your area that would appreciate any 'extras' you have in the garden.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Friday, June 26, 2009

A T&M Customer Success Story

The other day we received an e mail from Robin, a fellow gardener who told us about the thrill of growing their first poppy from seed. Here's a photo of Robin's pride and joy.

The plant is over 4 feet tall and has beautiful flowers like the one above that are 6" across.
Way to go Robin - Congrats !!!

If you have a success story with Thompson & Morgan that you'd like to share, we'd love to know about it. We'll post your photo too on our blog to show off your green thumb.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Wimbledon & the Strawberry Connection

Today marks the first day of the Wimbledon Tennis Championships. First held in 1877, it is the oldest tennis championship on record and is considered the most prestigious. For the next two weeks, the London suburb of Wimbledon will be a host to some of the greatest players around.

There are a few traditions when attending Wimbledon. First, although the colors of Wimbledon are purple and green (as shown in this flower display above), all players are required to wear white.

Second, all of the ball boys & girls are recruited from local schools. Candidates are first recommended by their Headmaster. Then they are given a test regarding all things tennis including rules as well as a fitness & stamina test. The training also includes weekly classes, at which time potential ball boys & girls are pared down. (Sounds like the TV show 'Survivor' but with tennis and no exile island.)

However, the yummiest tradition is the serving of strawberries and clotted cream. You can't attend Wimbledon without it! According to, over 27,000 kilos of strawberries are served with 7,000 liters of cream during the two week period. Something that tasty sounding must have a recipe online.

Thanks to UK, here's one called Eton Mess

It sounds like a delicious summertime treat. Time to head out to our strawberry patch in the back and start picking.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

How to Make Sun Dried Tomatoes

Judging from the size of my tomato plants, I'm hoping for a banner crop. This photo is only 2 weeks old, but with the amount of rain we've been getting in New Jersey lately, they're twice as big right now. I've never seen so many flowers!

What is one to do with a ton of tomatoes? Salsa ? Sure, that's an easy one. Spaghetti sauce? Yes, that's on my list too. How about sun dried tomatoes? That might be a nice way to add flavor to a dish.

I spent some time in the Thompson & Morgan library this morning & found an article we published about that very same topic. It must be tomato karma! Here's a reprinted version for to you enjoy as well.

How to Make Sun Dried Tomatoes

Drying food is a long-established and time-honored method for preserving fruits and vegetables. The basic premise is simple: small pieces of food are placed out in the sun and warm, dry air passing over, under and around the food pulls the moisture from it. Ovens and commercial drying equipment are meant to mimic this natural process.

When foods are properly dried, they can't support the growth of spoilage organisms like bacteria, yeast and molds. Well-dried vegetables have almost 90% of their water removed, creating an environment hostile to these spoilage organisms.

To Dry:

The best tomatoes to use for drying are meaty types such as paste tomatoes. Slice tomatoes into halves or thirds if large. If drying outdoors, place skin side down on a screen or tray in an enclosed screen house to keep insects and dirt off the produce. Outdoor drying will take a few days during warm breezy and dry weather. Bring tomatoes in at night to protect from dew. Hot but humid weather is not conducive to drying and it's recommended to use an alternative method if the humidity is high. If using a commercial food dryer, follow those specific directions that are given with the unit. If using the oven, use the lowest setting possible to maintain a temperature below 65C (124F). Drying in an oven can take as little time as overnight. If the temperature cannot remain below 65C (145F), you should consider the other techniques mentioned for drying. Well dried tomatoes should be leathery but pliable. Store in glass or plastic jars with tight lids. At room temperatures of 20C (70F), tomatoes should store up to 3 months; at cooler temperatures, they can store for as long as 6-9 months.

To Use:

Pour an equal mix of vinegar and boiling water, or just boiling water, over the tomatoes and let stand from a few minutes to a half an hour until they are soft and chewy. Drain off water and cover with olive oil and garlic. Let them marinate in the refrigerator or room temperature for several hours prior to use. They'll keep in the oil for about a month. Their concentrated flavor is delicious with pasta or antipasto.

Monday, June 8, 2009

From Our E Mailbox: Self Sowing Annuals

We always enjoy receiving e-mails from people who enjoy growing from seed. Last week, our Horticulturalist Susan had a request asking us to suggest seeds that are self-sowing.

So without further ado, here are 10 Self-Sowing Annual Flowers:

1. Alyssum

Alyssum is suitable for exposed cool sites, rockeries, paving and walls. Use it in edging paths and garden borders for contrasting color effect. A variety like 'Carpet of Snow' is easy to grow and very early flowering.

2. Calendula

Calendulas will add color to your garden throughout the summer, while
tall varieties add height & interest. Use dwarf varieties for edging.

The 'pulchilla' species produces petals that are lobed at the tips. Plants rarely grow more than 2 feet high.

4. Coreopsis (Annual) Calliopsis Coreopsis tinctoria

Make excellent cut flowers. Coreopsis grows quickly from seed while adding warm color tones to your garden.

6. Mirabilis

7. Rudbeckia hirta

Rudbeckia will grow in a wide range of soil types. Plants are drought tolerant once established. The flowers are highly attractive to butterflies and taller varieties make excellent cut flowers.

8. Love-In-A-Mist (Nigella damascena)

This is an easy to grow cottage garden favorite. Provides color all summer long. Also makes a wonderful cut flower.

9. Malope

The perfect plant to fill in a space in any border.

10. Morning Glory-Ipomoea

Beautiful twining climbers. Be sure to chip or soak seeds prior to sowing.

None of these catching your fancy?

Here's a few more suggestions:
Nasturtium Tropaeolum
Snow-on-the-Mountain (Euphorbia marginata)
Spider Flower-Cleome
Tall Verbena - Verbena bonariensis
Tobacco Plant - Nicotiana