Help Mr Fothergill’s fundraise for charity

September 6th, 2017 | News | 0 Comments

At Mr Fothergill’s we like to support as many charities as we can – so far we’ve raised over £150,000. Over the last few years, we’ve supported and fundraised for the Royal Hospital Chelsea Appeal, Greenfingers Charity, and RSPB – among others!

For these charities, in particular, we’ve have been selling sweet peas, seeds or fundraising through events. If you’ve contributed to any of these, then thank you – all of these charities need help and we are grateful to have given them the chance to assist their causes further.

We’ve recently completed a 20 mile walk, that some of our team took part in to raise money for the Greenfingers Charity. You can find out more about our walk here. In addition to this walk, we’ve set up a page for each of the charities that we support – so if you’d like to help with our fundraising efforts, you can find each of the pages below.

 

 

 

If you’re going to donate your hard earned money to a charity, it’s important that you know what your generous donations are going towards. Each of these charities supports very different causes and all of them important.

Greenfingers Charity

Greenfingers Charity is dedicated to supporting the children who use hospices around the UK, along with their families, by creating beautiful, well-designed outdoor spaces for children to enjoy with family, friends and siblings, whether through play and fun, or therapeutic rest and relaxation.  To date, Greenfingers Charity has created 51 inspiring gardens and outdoor spaces in hospices around the country and has a further waiting list of hospices that need our help now.

RSPB

RSPB are the largest nature conservation charity in the country, consistently delivering successful conservation, forging powerful new partnerships with other organisations and inspiring others to stand up and give nature the home it deserves.

Royal Chelsea Appeal Limited

The Chelsea Pensioners are the iconic faces of the UK’s veteran community. They reside at the Royal Hospital Chelsea, their 325-year-old home founded by Charles II, in the heart of London.

Thank you in advance for all the support you’ve given us and these charities over the years, we hope we can continue to help them through the sale of our seeds and fundraising. 

 

 

July Gardening Advice

July 19th, 2018 | News | 0 Comments

July-Gardening-Advice-from-Mr-Fothergills

The skies are blue, the air is warm, and the birds are singing. Summer has arrived! For the past few months, we’ve been working up to this glorious season: sowing seeds, potting on, and planting out. And now it’s time to reap the rewards. With flowers blooming and crops ready for the picking, gardens and allotments have never looked so fine. But with pests lurking and diseases only too keen to spoil your prized veg, it’s important to remain vigilant.

Regularly weeding, watering and feeding will help maintain a healthy garden. After all, you wouldn’t want to undo all those months of hard work, so keep the watering can and hoe close at hand. Also, if you are going to do any gardening in this weather, think about sun cream, a hat, and keeping yourself hydrated

Take stock of your gardens, feel proud of your veg patch, and savour those summer harvests.

 

In the flower garden

WATERING

With temperatures at their warmest, think about the amount of water you’re using. We know the veg plot and garden are crying out for a good drink. Ideally, you should consider watering either early in the morning or at dusk. With the sun out of sight, water evaporation isn’t an issue, keeping your beds and borders hydrated for longer. Also, try to water at the base of plants as water droplets on the foliage could potentially burn your plant, or encourage mildew and other diseases.

To keep those water bills down, consider getting yourself a water butt to collect rainwater. With a wide range to choose from, you can have them as visible or discreet as you like. Set them up alongside your greenhouse, or next to a drainpipe, and your plants will soon reap the benefits.

ROSES

By now, a lot of rose varieties will have spent their first blooms. Deadhead and feed them to encourage a second bloom in the coming weeks. For the one-time season bloomers, you may want to refrain from deadheading. Allow their hips to develop, as this will make a welcome attraction in the autumn months.

GARDEN BLOOMS

With blooms flourishing and plants growing, if you haven’t done so already, now’s the time to introduce a plant feed. Nutrients in pots, containers and hanging baskets will quickly deplete, so give them a weekly feed.

Perennials, such as lupins and delphiniums, will have already bloomed. Cut their flowered stems back to the base of the plant, and you could be rewarded with a second flourish later in the season.

Mr-fothergills-bearded-iris-July-gardening-advice

 

BEARDED IRIS

Bearded Irises can now be lifted and divided. When re-planting, ensure the rhizome is sat on the soil, half exposed. The warm sun will quickly help to establish them, and ensure they flower next season. You should cut all foliage down by two thirds to ensure the energy is going into the rhizome and is not wasted.

 

GREENHOUSE

Hot temperatures outside will mean even warmer temperatures for your greenhouse. Just a few degrees can cause your young plants to shrivel and die. So, introduce shading to your glass roof, keep all vents and doors open to encourage a steady airflow, and water the floor daily to deter red spider mite. You may also want to hang up insect-tape for further pest control.

 

On the veg patch

POTATOES

By now your second earlies should be ready for digging up. If you’re not sure, wait until the plants have flowered, then have a little dig around in the soil to find your spuds. If they’re ready, it won’t take long for you to uncover them.

Dig up what you need, and leave the rest of the tubers to grow on. Or if you’re hoping to use the potato plot to grow a new crop, dig them all up. Try to do it on a sunny day, and place your freshly dug potatoes on the plot surface for a few hours to dry a little. Store them in hessian sacks and keep in a cool, dark room. Check them every so often to make sure they haven’t spoilt.

If you’re dreaming of eating freshly-grown spuds on Christmas day, now is the time to plant them. If you’re not using potato grow bags, consider large containers. As the cold weather returns and the temperatures drop, you’ll need to move them somewhere where the frost can’t get to them.

Courgette-ready-to-be-harvested

HARVESTING

Many of your plants will be ready for harvesting. Try to pick courgettes, beans and peas regularly. This will ensure the plant continues to produce. Letting these crops grow past their best can encourage pests, or send a signal to the plant to stop growing altogether. Carrots, beetroot, chard and salad leaves will also be ready for harvesting.

TOMATOES

There comes a point when you should pinch-out the tops of your cordon tomatoes. Ideally, do it once you have five or six trusses, and before the plant reaches the roof of your greenhouse. Feed regularly, and keep the energy going into the fruit by pinching out all side shoots. Don’t let plants dry-out, or water irregularly, as this can encourage blossom end rot. Finally, remove any leaves beneath the first truss of tomatoes, as this will help circulation and prevent the build-up of pests and diseases.

PESTS AND DISEASES

Your squashes, pumpkins and courgettes should be plumping up nicely, but be aware of  powdery mildew. If you notice this on your plants, remove infected leaves. Do not place on your compost heap, as this will encourage the bacteria. Either burn, or remove from site completely.

Weevils, blackfly, greenfly, aphids, slugs and snails will be trying their best to ruin your hard work. If chemicals aren’t an option for you, try hosing them off your plants, or spray with soapy water. Another option is to crush a clove or two of garlic and add it to the water in your spritzer bottle, as garlic deters pests. A morning or evening stroll around your plot is the perfect time for picking off slugs and snails.

ALLIUMS

Both your garlic and onions should be ready to pull. Choose a sunny day, and lay them out on the topsoil to dry. Failing that, dry them in your greenhouse or polytunnel. Once dried, they can be stored and used when you’re ready.

WINTER VEG

You mention winter, and people shudder. Yet it’s something we need to keep at the back of our minds. If you’re hoping for a harvest of winter veg, then you should be thinking about planting them out into their final growing positions. Vegetables to consider are, brassicas, leeks and swede.

Net-your-fruit-in-summerFRUIT

Hungry birds will make light work of strawberries, gooseberries, blackcurrants or blackberries, so net your fruit.

Strawberry plants will now be producing runners. If you want new plants for next year, pin the runners to the soil. Once they establish a root system, cut the runner from the main plant. Alternatively, if you want to maximise this year’s crop, remove the runners to divert the energy to the existing fruit.

This is also the month for pruning fruit trees, such as plum and cherry. The warmer weather reduces the risk of bacteria harming an open wound on a cherry tree, and setting off silver leaf disease. Summer pruning can also be carried out on trained apple and pear trees.

 

Indoors

Check plants daily for the onset of pests. Ensure plants haven’t dried out, and if need be, move to a cooler spot.

 

Taking time to sit and enjoy your plants may also be the ideal opportunity to order those autumn flower and seed catalogues. With a cocktail in hand, start browsing and thinking about the seeds you want to sow next season.

 

 

 

Good Victorian watering advice

July 13th, 2018 | Plant Talk with Graham Rice | 0 Comments

Mignonette (Reseda odorata)

I know, it’s been hot. And dry. Scorching. And everything has needed watering. Here’s what our old friend Joseph Harrison, “conductor” of the Floricultural Cabinet magazine had to say on the subject in 1852.

“It will be highly necessary,” he says, “during the continuance of dry weather, to administer copious supplies of water. This should be done towards the evening of each day, because the plants have then time to absorb water gradually and appropriate such portion as contributes to their well being. It is only in extreme cases that water should be given in the morning, because it is then so quickly exhaled from the soil, as well as the leaves, that its refreshing and nutrimental properties are almost wholly wasted.

“A few annuals, such as Mignionette,” he continues tangentially, “may now be sown to bloom in the autumn.”

“appropriate such portion as contributes to their well being” – they certainly have a way with words, these Victorians.

So, water in the evening. Use seephose, also known as soaker hose, rather than an overhead sprinkler. It’s more expensive to set up but saves a lot of water.

And what about those mignonettes – as we spell them these days (we’ve lost the i), which he slips in at the last minute? As you can see from the picture they’re not the most colourful of annuals, but it’s the scent. Used in high end perfumes a hundred years ago (synthetic versions are now used) the scent is hard to describe: “ambrosial” and “vibrant green-floral” and “very sweet-smelling and pleasant Mediterranean flower with violet-like and fruity nuances”. None the wiser, are we, really…

But a patch in a corner where early annuals have become scorched or in a pot by the door, mignonette is delightful. Water first, sow into the damp soil and your mignonette will be flowering in six or eight weeks time. I know you’ll enjoy it.

Honesty: an ancient favourite

July 6th, 2018 | Plant Talk with Graham Rice | 0 Comments

Lunaria annua var. albiflora

We’ve been growing honesty, Lunaria annua, for a long time. It was first grown in gardens way back in 1570 and first noticed as an escape from gardens in 1597. But the strange thing is that it’s never been found growing naturally in the wild – not anywhere. It’s found outside gardens over much of Britian but it’s always been traced back to cultivated plants.

This is an indispensible plant. A biennial, in spite of its botanical name, and now is the time to sow seed for flowering in spring next year. And the reason that it’s so valuable is that it has two distinct features. First of all, there’s the flowers, large four petalled flowers in purple or in pure white in well-branched sprays on plants up to 75cm high.

Then the flowers are followed by the familiar papery seed heads, flat pods the size of a 10p piece that dry so effectively for the winter.

Some gardeners find the usual form with its purple flowers a little crude in its colouring but grow it for the pods. The pure white form, though, is lovely and universally admired or the mix of the purple and the white is often grown.

In recent years other forms have arrived. Both flower colours are available with brightly splashed variegated leaves but this foliage divides gardeners’ opinions – sometimes fiercely!

A form with purple leaves and very dark flowers has also been seen recently but is not yet easy to find.

But the great thing about the white-flowered form is that it looks good with such a wide variety of other plants – so you can allow it to self sow and it will fit in anywhere. And it has an RHS Award of Garden Merit. So it must be good.

Growing Beans from Sowing to Harvest

July 3rd, 2018 | News | 0 Comments

If there’s one crop that sums up the sheer joy and plenty of growing your own, it’s the humble bean. Most beans are very quick growing and, once they get going, you can expect week after week (after week!) of tender, tasty pods. We’re going to look at two types of bean: bush beans, and climbing pole types. So let’s get started!

Mr-Fothergills-growing-beans-from-sowing-to-harvestTypes of Beans

Bush beans are very quick growing and may be sown every three or four weeks from spring to give a succession of pickings throughout summer. They’re handy for filling in any gaps and perfect for tubs and window boxes.

Pole or climbing beans need a little more space and some form of support to help them climb, but on the flip side you’ll get many more beans from each plant. They’re a great way to add height to the vegetable garden and can make an attractive feature.

Beans can be further categorized by their pods. Green beans generally have smooth, slender pods. Depending on where you live, you’ll also know them as string beans, snap beans or French beans. Runner beans tend to have slightly coarser pods and continue cropping a few weeks later than string beans. Then there are the beans exclusive to warmer climates including soya beans, lima beans, and the appropriately named yard-long beans!

Grow High Yields of Beans

All beans prefer a sunny spot in well-drained soil that was improved with compost or well-rotted manure the autumn before sowing.

A clever technique to boost growth is to create a compost trench. Dig out a trench about a foot (30cm) deep where your beans are to grow. Fill it up with kitchen scraps and spent crops, top with leaves then cap it off with soil. By spring the ground will be beautifully rich and moisture-retentive, and your beans will thrive in it.

How to Sow Beans

Sow beans where they are to grow, against their supports or, for bush types, four to six inches (10-15cm) apart with 18 inches (45cm) left between each row. Use a hoe to scratch out rows or dig individual planting holes with a trowel. Drop in two seeds per hole, so they fall about an inch (2cm) apart, and are two inches (5cm) deep. Make the first sowing one week before your last expected frost date, then continue sowing every three or four weeks until midsummer. Thin each pair of seedlings to leave the strongest.

Or sow in a greenhouse or cold frame for the earliest start – up to a month before your last frost date. This will also help protect young seedlings from slugs and snails. Use deep plug trays or pots so there’s enough room for the roots, and sow into any general-purpose or seed-starting mix. You can get away with sowing one seed per module or pot; but sow a few extras just in case!

Planting Bush Beans

Beans don’t tolerate frost. Transplant them outside only when you’re sure there’s no chance of a late frost. Harden seedlings off a week beforehand by leaving them outside for a few hours, increasing the time gradually each day. A shaded cold frame is great for acclimatizing plants.

Space bush bean plants at the same distances as used for sowing. Carefully ease them from their plugs or pots, then lay them out where they are to be planted. Use a trowel to dig a hole, drop the plant into place then fill in around it and firm into position.

Mr-Fothergills-pole-and-runner-need-sturdy-supports

Planting and Supporting Pole Beans

Plant pole beans at least six inches (15cm) apart, with rows around two feet (60cm) apart. The traditional way to grow beans is against parallel rows of bamboo canes, joined where they cross at the top to a horizontal cane.

Or try a bean frame. Instead of leaning into each other, the canes lean out and are secured to a rectangular frame at the top. It’s a simple take on the usual ridge-supported setup, and by having the canes leaning away from the center like this the beans hang to the outside, so they’re a lot easier to pick.

But it’s bean teepees that are arguably the prettiest support option. Take the opportunity to create a centerpiece to your garden – a vertical leafy accent brimming with blooms and beans!

Caring for Beans

Seedlings may sometimes need a little encouragement to latch on to their supports, but they’ll quickly find their own way up. Bush types rarely need much support, though top-heavy plants, laden with beans, will appreciate short canes, twigs or peasticks to keep them off the ground.

Keep your beans well watered in dry weather, especially once they begin to flower. Mulching around the base of the plants helps to keep the ground moist for longer, and it gives weeds a tougher time. Any weeds that do peek through should be removed by hand to avoid disturbing the bean plant’s roots.

Pinch out the tops of pole beans once they’ve reached the top of their supports. This prevents them from becoming an ungainly tangled mass, and it concentrates the plants’ efforts into producing more flowers and beans.

How to Harvest Beans for Pods

Once your beans are ready, it’s essential to remember the three Ps: pick, pick…and pick some more! When they’re in full flow beans are almost unstoppable, but only if those precious pods are picked as they appear, while they’re still relatively young and slender. At this point they’ll be nice and tender, but leave them too long and they’ll turn stringy and tough. Stop picking, and production will grind to a halt.

Towards the end of the season it’s worth leaving a few pods of open-pollinated or heirloom varieties to dry out on the plant. Shell the dried pods then bring the beans inside to dry further in an airy location. Store the beans in paper envelopes, labeled with the variety and date, then use them for next year’s crop.

 

These are just a few tips and ideas to help you grow your own beans. If you would like to share any tips on how you grow your beans, then please, comment below or head over to our Facebook and Twitter page.

Longer lasting cut flowers

June 29th, 2018 | Plant Talk with Graham Rice | 0 Comments

Mixed rudbeckias cut for the table

We all cut flowers from our gardens. I often cut them from mine, and I have ‘Hi Scent’ sweet peas in front of me on the table as I write as well a vase full of mixed sweet Williams. The rudbeckias (above) will be opening any day mow. But how do we make them last as long as possible?

Every summer I bring up this issue of making cut flowers last because, after all the time and effort and imagination you’ve spent looking after your flowers in the garden, it really pays to give a few thoughts to making them last. And a few simple tricks can make a huge difference. So here goes.

1. Cut them first thing in the morning, when they’ve had a cool night to take on moisture. By evening, the sun has been sucking up water from the flowers and foliage all day.
2. Cut flowers at the right stage, usually this is just as they’re opening. Don’t cut flowers that have been open for a few days, it’s obvious that they won’t last well.
3. Take a bucket or a jug filled with water with you into the garden and put the flowers in it as soon as you cut them.
4. Before arranging them, cut at least a half an inch from the base of the stem.
5. Change the water every day.

Adding flower food to the water is the ideal approach as flower food inhibits the growth of the bacteria that block the stems and prevent water uptake. But I know that relatively few people actually do this – so change the water every day instead. If you ignore all the other advice, at least change the water daily. You’ll be so pleased you did.