Choosing the Right Layout for Your Vegetable Garden Design [video]

April 25th, 2017 | The flower garden, The vegetable garden | 0 Comments

Vegetable Garden Design - Nation of Gardeners SaladNew or old gardens can always be improved using dedicated vegetable beds that can help with productivity. A simple vegetable bed system will help you to plan, tend and harvest your crops with ease. This will leave you with a vegetable garden to be proud of. This post and the video below shares advice on vegetable garden design and how to make the most of the space that you have. 

  • Growing vegetables in allocated beds has many advantages. Narrow beds ensure growing areas can be tended from surrounding paths, this eliminates the needs to step on beds and crops. This creates a healthier soil for your plants, in turn providing you with plenty of crops.
  • Soil manures can be planted in specific areas when using beds preventing the need to spread manure across entire plots.
  • A bed system provides order for crops but also makes crop protection easier, as you only need to cover particular beds with their specific protection.
  • Using vegetable beds also provide an accessible garden by collating similar vegetables into the same bed making the gardening easier to manage.
  • Beds can be laid out in two ways, soil-level or raised.
    • Soil level beds are easy to work out, simply define bed edges with string and peg down. Then you can prepare the ground within the string.
    • Edging around beds to create raised beds offers a more permanent solution and a physical feature in your garden. Raised beds physically defines the vegetable beds and separates the various vegetables. Edging for beds does however cost more and more effort is required to build them and then fill them with compost and top soil.
  • You must try to make it possible for the centre of beds to be reached easily from the paths that surround them. Aim for a bed width of 3 – 4 feet or 90 – 120cm, this will give ample space for reaching to the centre of the bed.

These are just a few tips and tricks on vegetable garden design. Let us know if you have any further tips in the comments below.  You can also find the Mr Fothergills range of bed kits and covers here.

Vegetable Garden Design: Choosing the Right Layout for Your Garden

Vegetable Garden Design – Choosing the Right Layout for Your Garden

How to Make Willow Structures for Your Garden

April 24th, 2017 | The flower garden, The vegetable garden | 0 Comments

Willow is very satisfying to work with and lends itself to making rustic screens, structures and supports for a beautiful natural look. Willow is very satisfying to work with and lends itself to making rustic screens, structures and supports for a beautiful natural look. No special tools needed! It’s quick growing and produces lots of flexible stems – they are natural materials that you can work within the garden. This post and video will show you how to create a handsome hurdle, step by step. 

Both willow and hazel have a long history of use in a manner of different garden structures. In order to encourage the long straight stems required, the trees are periodically ‘coppiced’, when the stems are cut right back to a stump to encourage replacement shoots. You can buy ready to work with bundles of hazel or willow stems, or you can grow your own, cutting the stems right back to ground level then allowing new stems to grow in their place.

Willow grows quickest and produces highly flexible stems that are ideal for weaving. Dogwoods are also an excellent option for weaving with stems coming in a range of colours, from red to yellow. Hazel stems tend to be a little thicker and therefore make excellent beanpoles. Fences made from hazel or willow look stunning and they also help to filter the wind rather than deflect it avoiding the damaging eddies sometimes found at the bottom of solid walls. Lower woven hurdles make very pretty edges to raised beds, though bear in mind that close contact with the soil will reduce their lifespan. Alternatively, use woven hurdles as handsome screens to hide ugly pots or less attractive parts of your garden such as a compost area.

So how do you make a willow hurdle?

The video below offers step by step instructions on how to make a hurdle for your garden. If you have any top tips for willow structures, then please do let us know in the comments below.

5 Gardening Hacks for Seed Sowing Success [video]

April 24th, 2017 | The flower garden, The vegetable garden | 0 Comments

 Gardening Hacks for Seed Sowing Success

Do you struggle with sowing seeds because you can’t see them and they germinate all bunched up together?  Or maybe they don’t germinate at all?   Well here are five gardening hacks for sowing seed success!

  • Use seed tapes to space out seeds accurately, especially smaller seeds like carrots and lettuce.
  • Mix smaller seeds with fine, dry sand and then sprinkle them for better spacing.
  • Larger seeds or those with a thicker seed coat are likely to grow faster if they are softened or punctured before planting.  Soaking is a great method widely used by sweet pea growers, so try it on your beans!
  • Seeds can often be difficult to see in the soil so you can’t see where you have already sown.  Line your furrows with toilet paper allowing you to see them better before covering over with soil.
  • Encourage seeds that take their time to germinate to grow early before you plant them out by pre-soaking seeds like peppers and tomatoes in wet kitchen paper.  Pop them in the airing cupboard and check regularly until you see signs of germination

Are you a seed sowing superstar that has tips to share with your fellow gardeners? Let us know in the comments below!

Growing Carrots from Sowing to Harvest [video]

April 21st, 2017 | The vegetable garden | 0 Comments

Growing Carrots from Sowing to Harvest - Mr Fothergills BlogEvery vegetable garden needs carrots and it’s actually quite easy to grow them from seed – but you must bear in mind some golden rules! In this post, we offer you some top tips on where to grow carrots, what type to grow and when to sow. The following video goes on to tell you the best way to plan your carrots and follows through to their harvest!

Where to grow carrots

  • You can grow carrots in raised beds or in patio tubs – the choice is yours, carrots can be grown just about anywhere.
  • They prefer full sun and well-dug, stone free soil.
  • Beds improved with well-rotted compost are ideal, though recently-manured beds may cause the roots to fork.
  • For best results, follow carrots on from a heavy feeding vegetable such as cabbage.

What type to grow

  • There are so many different carrots to choose from – sometimes it can be confusing on which one is best for you to grow!
  • Stump-rooted and finger-sized carrots are the quickest and can be grown on heavier soils that would cause longer roots to fork.
  • Medium or long-rooted carrots can be grown in lighter soils or in raised beds or deep containers filled with potting soil.
  • Maincrop types are perfect for sowing later in spring to produce roots for winter storage.
  • Carrots don’t just come in orange they have many colourful varieties!

When to sow carrots

  • Sow carrots from early spring to mid-summer, to then be lifted from late spring to early winter.
  • Stored roots will tide you over until the following spring.
  • Make the earliest sowings of fast-growing early varieties into greenhouse or polythene tunnel beds or pots kept under cover.
  • You can also sow earlier outside by using row covers or cold frames.

If you have any top tips on growing carrots then let us know on our blog or social media.

GrowVeg – Growing Carrots from Sowing to Harvest

Always start with the latest zinnias

April 21st, 2017 | Plant Talk with Graham Rice | 0 Comments

2016 Zinnia Trial at Mr Fothergill'sThe bushy, small flowered zinnias I discussed here last week, marking this year as The Year Of The Zinnia, are complimented by the taller, larger flowered varieties.

OK, they have far fewer flowers. But the flowers are larger – twice the size, or more, of those on the dwarf types. Most are fully double, and there’s a huge range of colours and colour combinations.

Sourced from around the world, last summer Mr F grew every notable variety around (above). And, looking them over two or three times over the season, one of the things that struck me was this: recently introduced varieties were, in general, significantly better than older ones.

Of course, we expect plant breeders to steadily improve plants and they do. But in French marigolds, for example – with the honourable exception of ‘Alumia Vanilla Cream’ – you’d still be happy with the varieties introduced twenty years ago. Not so with tall zinnias for borders and cut flower.

In the last couple of years we’ve seen ‘Purple Prince’ introduced along with the two colours in the Zinderella Series and ‘Solmar’. I’d definitely start with these.

Bold and impressive both in the border and in the vase, ‘Purple Prince’ has large, clean and vivid purple flowers and, unlike some older varieties, every plant should have fully double flowers.

The anemone-centred Zinderella Series, in peach and in lilac pink, stood out in the Mr F trial. At the end of the season I cut some stems to bring home and not only were they universally admired by visitors but, with a change of water every day, they lasted longer than just about every flower I cut all summer.

And ‘Solmar’, developed by a British company in Britain and in India, comes in four vivid colours with good branching and good tolerance to disease.

Growing them from seed? I’ll be growing some in cells, sowing any day now, and planting them out after frosts. And I’ll also be sowing some outdoors where they’re to flower. Keeping the roots undisturbed is key.

Zinnia 'Solmar Mixed'