Now a (mini) turnip for the books...

MINI vegetables are the latest one-meal wonder to tempt consumers.Little finger carrots that need no peeling, ping pong ball sized turnips and the specially designed microwavable mini pumpkin - six minutes cooking time on high - all feature in the Thompson & Morgan 2003 seed catalogue.

MINI vegetables are the latest one-meal wonder to tempt consumers.

Little finger carrots that need no peeling, ping pong ball sized turnips and the specially designed microwavable mini pumpkin - six minutes cooking time on high - all feature in the Thompson & Morgan 2003 seed catalogue.

The Ipswich based horticultural company is confident the new range will prove popular with small-time gardeners and allotment holders with little space to spare.

Colin Randel , vegetable production manager, said the Mini-Veg have been bred for close spacings, unlike their larger relatives and could be grown in window boxes or even a bucket in the back yard.

Some mini vegetables, such as little gem lettuces and Gardener's Delight tomatoes, have been on supermarket shelves for more than a decade.

The new seed varieties will mean gardeners can try their luck at growing a whole range of baby greens, roots, tubers and rhyzomes at home.

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Mr Randel said that disease-resistance was a top priority in breeding Mini-Veg as with little distance between plants, air cannot circulate and the risk of infection is increased.

Thompson & Morgan conduct trials on each seed-type to ensure they are up to standard.

"They have to stay small and be able to grow in a very close spacing (6ins square). Some make too much leaf or run to seed or get diseased and are not suitable," said Mr Randel, adding that all varieties were "GM free".

Small-scale things to eat have added advantages – the quick maturing Carrot Little Finger , is ready three weeks earlier than grown-up carrots and is of a much fuller orange colour. It also tastes better, Mr Randel assures. Downsizing is not compromising on flavour.

"Anyone can have a go at growing Mini-Veg, even in inner cities, with wonderful results," he said.

For a free copy of the catalogue contact (01473) 695224 or to place an order call (01473) 695225.

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