Mr Fothergill's new and exclusive products for its 2017-18 season include Pepper Curry Pepper and Pepper Havana Gold — a milder version of what was sold before. Retail marketing manager Ian Cross says the new mail-order Trinidad Perfume has virtually no heat and is grown just for flavour.
He points out that chillies always create more interest than sales, with the core salad crops, carrots and other staples always doing best. But the new "interesting angle" of growing for flavour and nuances such as citrus flavours rather than heat could boost sales, Cross suggests.
Cultivated chilli species:
At the RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2017, Tom Smith Plants was shortlisted for plant of the year for the "world's hottest" chilli pepper, 'Dragon's Breath'. In young plants, Quantil has a new chilli "Dynamite" range.
Garden Centre Association chief executive Iain Wylie says there has been much discussion about chilli peppers and the seed companies would be the first people to know what would be fashionable to grow after studying what celebrity chefs are using.
Mr Fothergill's has also taken on the seaweed fertiliser range Seasol, while SBM is now marketing Maxicrop and Irish seaweed product Fastgrow is coming to the UK. But is edible seaweed likely to become fashionable too? Japanese cooking influences suggest it is, though there is little scope for growing your own.
Among other more unusual edibles, Franchi says edible flowers and sprouting seeds have done well this year. A range of microgreens will be new for 2018. There will also be a Planet Organic 100% food waste digested compost.
Suttons has 27 new vegetable varieties and has added to TV botanist James Wong's seed range, which focuses on health and nutrition. The new introductions include Beetroot 'Red River', Carrot F1 'Night Bird', Carrot F1 'Octavo', Kale 'Black Magic', Lettuce 'Lollo Rossa', Nasturtium 'Gold Jewel', Squash 'Uchiki Kuri' and Tomato 'Red Zebra'.
Westland has a new Seasonal Seeds range but has sold its seed potato business to JBA Seed Potatoes. Kings Seeds' Andrew Tokely says homegrown vegetables are still selling well but Brexit and the euro will affect prices "because we know it is already but we still try and keep as competitive as we can". He adds: "The consumer is still looking for something different to grow so we're introducing sweet potato and edamame to the range 2018."
Young vegetable grower Gardeners Kitchen, which is building new glass, is now selling direct to the public online and has new point-of-sale. The Evesham grower says strawberries and herbs went particularly well this season, while kale continues to grow. The company said it will watch chefs to find out what will be fashionable to launch for 2018.
Quantil is introducing three-litre patio vegetables and 25cm hanging baskets. Mr Fothergill's has also launched Carrot Speedo, Pea (Mangetout) Sweet Sensation, Broccoli (Autumn) Covina, Carrot Purple Sun F1, Leek Navajo F1, Lettuce Thimble and Tomato Sweetbaby.