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Graham Rice's New Plants Blog

Graham Rice Garden writer and plantsman Northamptonshire and Pennsylvania

Editor-in-Chief of the RHS Encyclopedia of Perennials; writer for a wide range of newspapers and magazines including The Garden and The Plantsman; member of the RHS Herbaceous Plant Committee and Floral Trials Committee; author of many books on plants and gardens.

  • Date Joined: 18 Oct 2006

Suttons Seeds: New at Hampton Court ‘09

Posted by Graham Rice on 11 Jul 2009 at 07:31 AM

In recent years Suttons Seeds has pioneered a completely modern approach to the old idea of growing tomato plants by grafting named fruiting varieties on to special rootstocks - in the same way as apples. They demonstrated their new ideas of grafting vegetables in the Growing Tastes marquee at the Hampton Court Palace Flower Show.

Grafted cucumbers. Image: GardenPhotos.comGrafting tomato plants is not a new idea. What Suttons are doing is completely new and different  - newly developed disease resistant tomato rootstocks are matched with prolific and flavoursome fruiting varieties and the results are impressive. Take just two elements of their success. 1: Crops are about two thirds greater than you'd get with the same fruiting varieties grown from seeds; 2: You can plant them in the same soil year after year and they'll never be diseased. No more growbags, no more ring culture or straw bales - and you'll need fewer plants.

But the point is - and what really is revealed for the first time at the Show - that Suttons are now extending this idea to cucumbers, melons, aubergines, bell peppers and chilli peppers.

Just take cucumbers. By grafting a variety that's resistant to powdery mildew, the scourge of greenhouse cucumber crops, on to a rootstock that's resistant to soil borne diseases you get resistance to multiple disease problems. These grafted plants also bring other benefits including tolerance of low temperatures and strong vigour - as well as that invaluable disease resistance.

Suttons currently have a range of combinations of fruiting growth and rootstocks on trial in all these crops and once they've assessed the trial this summer the very best combinations will be offered in their catalogue, and online, in the New Year.

Tom Sharples, who's been at Suttons as long as I can remember and seen any number of new ideas come and go, says: "This is the best thing I've seen for home gardeners for twenty years."

Check out the Suttons Seeds website later in the year to order these new grafted vegetable plants.



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