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. 

 

 

Growing Lettuce from Sowing to Harvest

June 17th, 2019 | News | 2 Comments

Growing Lettuce from Sowing to Harvest

It’s quick-growing, fuss-free and can be grown just about anywhere. What are we talking about? Lettuce of course! Whether you’re growing it for sweet, firm hearts or for a pick-and-mix of leaves, you won’t want to run short of this dependable staple. If you fancy growing more of it you’re in the right place, because here’s our sowing to harvest guide to lettuce! Read on or watch the video for more.

Types of Lettuce

Lettuce needs little introduction. Grown for its luscious leaves, there’s a cornucopia of both hearting and loose leaf varieties to explore. Lettuces that form dense heads for harvesting whole include creamy butterhead types, upright romaine and cos lettuces and the classic, crunchy iceberg. Loose leaf lettuces can be harvested whole or a few leaves at a time, ‘cut-and-come-again’ style. Choose from the classic salad bowl lettuce, handsome oak leaf types or any number of other colourful leaves that’ll brighten vegetable beds and ornamental borders alike.

Where to Grow Lettuce

Sow lettuce in batches for a continuous harvestGrow lettuce in any well-drained, fertile soil – soil improved over time with plenty of compost is ideal – or grow lettuces in pots or tubs of potting soil. Lettuce prefers a bright, open position with good air circulation to promote strong, disease-free growth.

Lettuce is a cool-season crop, so in hot climates you may get better results growing it in a cooler, shadier spot, especially as the young plants start out. Either way, lettuces don’t take long to reach maturity, which makes them an excellent choice for growing in-between slower-to-establish crops such as corn or leeks.

When to Sow Lettuce

Make the earliest sowings under cover from late winter to grow on in greenhouse or hoop house beds for a super-early harvest. Then from early spring, it’s time to sow for growing outside. You can use our Garden Planner to check exactly what months you can sow in your area. The Planner uses your nearest weather station to ensure the accompanying Plant List is tailored to your location.

Sow in batches, about once a month, for a continuous harvest. The last sowing of the season, made at the end of summer, will be of winter lettuces. These hardy plants will happily sit out the winter, often with little or no protection in milder climates, to give the first outdoor harvests of spring. Or plant winter lettuces under cover for a reliable supply of leaves throughout the winter.

Direct Sowing Lettuce

Sowings may be made directly into prepared soil or into module trays of multipurpose potting soil. To sow direct, remove any weeds then rake the soil level to a fine, crumbly texture. Mark out shallow drills, 8-12 inches or 20 to 30cm apart, using a stringline as a guide if this helps. Then, sow the tiny seeds in clusters – a pinch of seeds every 4in or 10cm. Backfill the seed drills, label with the variety and water.

Thin the seedlings once they’re up to leave the strongest plant at each point. Then a few weeks on, thin again to leave plants  8-12 inches – or 20-30cm – apart.

Sowing into Plug Trays

Young lettuce plants are ready to go into the ground once the roots have filled their plugsAlternatively, sow into module trays of multipurpose potting soil. Fill the trays, firm the potting soil then sow a pinch of about 3-5 seeds into each plug, onto the surface. Cover the seeds with the very finest layer of potting soil, then water the trays by placing them into reservoirs of water so they can soak up moisture from the bottom. Remove the trays once you can see surface is damp. Continue to water whenever the potting soil dries out at the surface. Starting lettuces off in plug trays stops slugs from annihilating seedlings, while giving an arguably neater result at planting time.

The young plants are ready to go into the ground once the roots have filled their plugs. Space them 8-12 inches or 20-30cm apart in both directions. Carefully remove the plants from their plugs then dig a hole for each lettuce plant. Firm it in, and once you’ve finished planting water to settle the soil around the roots.

Caring for Lettuce

Encourage early or late-season lettuces by laying row covers or horticultural fleece over plants to trap valuable warmth. Low polythene hoop houses or tunnels are another excellent way to cheat the seasons.

Water plants in dry weather to ensure robust growth and to prevent your lettuce from bolting, when plants quickly go to seed. Use a sharp hoe to decapitate weeds as they appear, or hoik out the occasional intruder by hand.

Slugs aren’t a major problem when ground is kept weed-free and watering limited to a thorough soaking once or twice a week, but extra measures to keep a check on slugs include beer traps and the removal of shady hiding places like old pots.

How to Harvest Lettuce

Harvest whole heads of lettuce in one go by simply pulling up the plant from the ground. Lift them just before you need them for best taste and the freshest leaves.

Or enjoy your lettuces over a longer period by cutting just a few leaves from each plant at a time. Called cut-and-come-again harvesting, taking leaves like this not only prolongs the cropping period – so individual plants crop for anywhere up to two months – it will also give you many more leaves. Simply cut or twist the leaves from the stem, taking care not to damage it. Leave the central leaves untouched to grow on for the next cut.

With so many leaf shapes and colours, lettuces are a genuine joy to behold! How do you grow yours – in containers, in serried rows, or among other crops? What are your favourite varieties? Comment below or head over to our Facebook and Twitter page.

Cosmos time – yes, really!

June 14th, 2019 | Plant Talk with Graham Rice | 0 Comments

Cosmos 'Xanthos' and 'Sea Shells'

Well, it’s been raining hasn’t it… The problem is that everything is now growing like mad and spilling out into the spaces I’d set aside to sow cosmos.

Yes, I know. Cosmos are half hardy annuals and they’re often sown under cover in April. But both shorter varieties like ‘Xanthos’ (above left) and taller ones such as ‘Sea Shells’ (above right) do really well sown outside in June, sown outside where they’re going to flower.

The seeds are long and slender and easy to handle, the soil is moist, so all you need to do is draw a drill (a shallow furrow) in the soil with the point of a stick – or even your finger. About half an inch deep is fine and then you can place the seeds an inch apart and then just knock the soil in from the edges to cover the seeds and pat it all down with your hand.

Put a label in at the end of the row and another label or a piece of stick in at the other end, to mark the row and ensure that you don’t sow something else in the same space! The seeds will soon be up, they’ll grow strongly and you can thin them out, in stages, till they’re 15-20cm apart.

The problem is all those floppy plants that the rain has beaten down – in spite of the fact that you supported them (or perhaps because you didn’t!).

Well, they can be rescued, propped up, and space for those cosmos revealed. If you’re fortunate enough to have some flat sprays of hazel twigs, these are ideal for gently raising shoots back into position. But the simple device of two short bamboo canes with a length of string run between can also lift leaning stems back close to vertical. And snipping off any wayward shoots won’t do the plants any harm.

So, wait for a break in the rain, heave those floppy plants out of the way and get some cosmos seed in.

Mr Fothergill’s Teams Up With The RHS to Send Seeds to Syrian Refugees

June 10th, 2019 | News | 0 Comments

Mr Fothergill's working with the RHS and the Lemon Tree Trust to help Syrian refugeesHundreds of Syrian refugees from the Domiz and 5 neighbouring camps in Northern Iraq are benefiting from receiving 2,000 flower and vegetable seed packets from Mr Fothergill’s Seeds.

This is the second year of a project that was inspired by a WWI seed lift from the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) to British prisoners of war living in an internment camp in Germany. Working with the RHS, Mr Fothergills has again donated packets of seeds to the Lemon Tree Trust projects.

Mr Fothergill's working with the RHS and the Lemon Tree Trust to help Syrian refugeesSent as part of a project set up by the RHS and The Lemon Tree Trust, the seeds were specially chosen for 200 Syrian families, who despite living in difficult circumstances, hope to gain some joy from the benefits of gardening. The list was made up of varieties that would bring colour to the camp and could be grown in the harsh conditions, including marigolds, sunflowers, peppers and cucumbers. Some seeds were also given to researchers of the University of Duhok as part of ongoing studies testing grey water success rates for both edibles and ornamentals. 250 packets of seeds were used in garden starter kits for community gardens and schools in Mosul, Iraq.

Tim Jeffries, Mr Fothergill’s Commercial Director commented “We are absolutely delighted to be able to help out the RHS and The Lemon Tree Trust by donating seeds from our ranges. We hope that they will provide some pleasure for those living in the difficult conditions of the Domiz Camp.”

Growing happy hollyhocks

June 7th, 2019 | Plant Talk with Graham Rice | 0 Comments

Hollyhock (Alcea) 'Chaters Doubles'

So. Hollyhocks. Mine are just about to start opening and now’s the time to sow seed. Sounds odd, doesn’t it, to be sowing seed of biennials at a time of year when plants in the garden have not even started to ripen their seed.

In fact you can sow this month or next and this will give you large, well developed plants to overwinter and which are best placed to survive the almost inevitable attack from hollyhock rust.

For rust will surely strike, covering the shrivelling foliage with rusty coloured blisters. It struck mine so a couple of weeks ago I stripped off all the diseased leaves. If I hadn’t thoughtlessly pulled most of them up when they were tiny, the self sown larkspurs would have hidden the bare stems.

Hollyhocks come in three main types: tall biennials with single flowers (‘Giant Single Mixed’) and tall biennials with double flowers (‘Chaters Double Mixed’) – these are the ones to sow now – and short annuals with double flowers (‘Majorette’) to sow in spring.

Sow the seed thinly this month, in a short row outside, in the veg garden perhaps or in a bright space at the back of the border. Thin the plants to about 20cm apart then in September move them carefully to their final positions.

They can also be sown in pots and then the seedlings moved into individual pots but the plants will become quite large and may well need 12cm pots, or larger, to accommodate the vigorous roots.

If rust shows its ugly self then there are sprays approved for dealing with the problem. The RHS recommends Provanto Fungus Fighter Concentrate, Provanto Fungus Fighter Plus, Toprose Fungus Control & Protect, Scotts Fungus Clear Ultra and Scotts Fungus Clear Ultra Gun. You can find out more about hollyhock rust, and an organic approach, on the RHS website.

But don’t let rust put you off – and be sure to allow your larkspur to self sow in the right spot.

June Gardening Advice

June 3rd, 2019 | News | 0 Comments

June Gardening Advice

Summer has barely begun, yet already garden borders are filing with colour, and allotment beds are beginning to swell with growing vegetables.

With a warming soil, you can now sow directly into the ground. Any remaining plants can go outside into their final growing position, without the risk of a late frost. You may need to thin out newly-established plants to give everything an opportunity to grow.

So, whatever you get up to this month, there really is no excuse to enjoy those longer days, and warmer nights. So, get outside and grow!

In the flower garden

Sow

With the frost now a fading memory, you can sow directly outside. If it’s colour and blooms you want, consider direct sowing sweet william, coreopsis or sunflowers. Ensure the soil has a fine tilth, sow where you want your flowers to grow, and water.

Summer bedding

Time to get the last of your summer bedding out of cold frames and greenhouses. Harden off, and plant up into their final growing positions. If garden borders aren’t an option, try using containers, troughs or hanging baskets. A basket of trailing blooms suspended beside a front door gives a warm welcome to any visitor. But with balmy days ahead, try planting up with water retention gel, and ensure a regular watering and feeding regime throughout summer. Irregular watering may cause certain plants to bolt, or dry-out and die.

Staking

Perennial and lily plants will have taken on a lot of growth and height, so now’s the time to stake them. Not only will this prevent wind damage, it’ll ensure you see the full benefit of those newly forming blooms.

Sweet peas
Ensure you pick your sweet pea flowers daily, and remove any that are going to seed

By now, these flowers will be looking their best, producing blooms daily. To prevent them from going to seed, ensure you pick flowers daily, and remove any that are going to seed.

Roses

Some roses will now be looking past their best, so consider deadheading. Not only will this keep your rose bush looking fresh, it will encourage new blooms. Ensure all weeds are removed from the base of the plant, add a slow release fertiliser and water in well.

June gaps

Most spring flowers will have come and gone, leaving you with gaps in your borders. If you’re in need of a splash of colour, consider dahlias. There’s no end to the choice of colour, shape and size available. Or if it’s height you’re after, nothing says ‘summer’ better than a vibrant sunflower. Whether you want tall, small, yellow or orange, there are now so many varieties to choose from.

Lawns

With warmer days and brighter evenings, the garden centrepiece at this time of year will be your lawn. Keep it looking good by mowing at least once a week, and trim the edges. You may want to consider raising your lawnmower blades to decrease the stress on your grass. It’s also good to apply a lawn feed. When those hotter spells do arrive, either water first thing in the morning, or later in the evening when temperatures aren’t so high. There’s less water loss due to evaporation, and lawns won’t be scorched by the searing sun.

Cuttings

This is the perfect month to take softwood cuttings from garden favourites, such as lavender, forsythia and fuchsia. Take 10cm cuttings from the tips of your chosen shrub, making a sharp horizontal cut just below a pair of leaves, and remove any lower set of leaves or buds. Fill a small pot with gritted compost, and push the cuttings in, parallel to the side of the pot. Space cuttings equally, water and place in a greenhouse or on a warm windowsill.

Second flourish

Delphiniums, lupins and ornamental poppies make a lovely addition to any garden, but their blooms can fade all too quickly. Once flowered, cut away the fading stem. Not only will this make the plant look tidier and bushier, it will encourage a second bloom later in the season.

Look our for pests like lily beetle, vine weevil and aphids in the garden in JuneMaintenance

Pests and diseases will be at their worst, so keep a lookout and remove all culprits. Red mite may start appearing in greenhouses, so it’s a good idea to dampen down the paths each day, and keep doors and windows open for plenty of ventilation. Introducing shading to your greenhouse will ensure plants don’t burnout on particularly hot days. Other culprits to watch-out for in the garden, are lily beetle, vine weevil and aphids.

Autumn planting

It’s hard to fathom, but in a few months, autumn will be knocking at our door, so now is a good time to get some of those autumn plants germinating. From pansies to polyanthus, sow seeds onto a tray of fine compost, water and cover lightly. Then place in your greenhouse. Check them regularly to ensure germination, and don’t let them dry-out.

On the veg patch

June drop

Fruit trees holding heavy crops of fruit will drop a certain amount in June. This improves sunlight, air circulation, reduces the spread of pests, prevents heavy branches snapping, and it means the remaining fruit get all the nutrients they need to grow and ripen. The ‘June Drop’ occurs in apples, pears, plums and peaches. So, if you come across scattered fruit below your tree, fear not, it’s Mother Nature’s way of giving your fruit tree a helping hand.

Strawberries

As you start enjoying this season’s harvest, think about producing additional plants by propagating the runners off this year’s plants. Or, to retain the plant’s energy for next year’s fruit, cut plants down to 5cm. This will encourage new growth and help prevent grey mould. Also, give the plants a feed with a general fertiliser.

With flowers on the plant, it’s time to start giving your tomatoes a twice-weekly potash feed to encourage the fruit to swell.Tomatoes

Whether you’re growing cordon or bush varieties, pinch-out side shoots, and ensure your plants are secure, and cordon tomatoes are tied in. With flowers on the plant, it’s time to start giving your tomatoes a twice-weekly potash feed to encourage the fruit to swell. This also applies to peppers, aubergine, and chilli plants.

Harvest

Crops you planted back in early spring may now be ready for harvesting. Peas, runner beans, broad beans, chard, potatoes and salad, should all be ready to go. If you notice your onions or garlic foliage is dying back, then these are also ready to harvest. Once lifted, leave them out on the bed to dry, preferably on a sunny day.

Plant

Greenhouse grown squashes, pumpkins and sweetcorn will now be ready to go out onto the plot. Give these crops plenty of space to grow, and ensure the soil is rich and moist. Once planted, give a heavy mulch to help retain moisture. These are greedy crops so they will require regular watering.

When planting out sweetcorn, arrange the plants in a fairly tight grid formation, as this will encourage the pollination of all plants.

Maintenance

June is a a good time to turn your compost heapsNow’s a good time to turn your compost heaps. The warmer weather will help the process of breaking down matter.

Weeds will be thriving, so maintain beds and remove with a hoe, ideally on a warm day, when the soil isn’t as moist, as weeds can easily be removed.

Some vegetables, such as brassicas, will need netting to prevent birds attacking them, and to stop the white butterfly from laying their eggs.

Carrots are often affected by Carrot Fly, so create a fleece or mesh barrier at least 50cm high. This pest can only fly so high, so a netted barrier will prevent them from attacking your young carrots.

Another method of discouraging pests is companion planting. Plants such as marigolds, should be planted around tomato plants as their smell discourages pests.

Other jobs

  • Blanket weed should be removed from ponds, to help both fish and plants breathe. Try to do this at the end of the day, when temperatures are cooler. Also, leave any removed foliage at the side of the pond overnight. This will give any caught animals and insects a chance to return to the water. Check water plants for pests and remove. Pond fish may need feeding.
  • With increased light levels, you could consider setting up a herb tray on a windowsill. Herbs such as basil, and coriander are worth considering, and make a wonderful addition to any meal.
  • If you have lavender flowering in the garden, then why not take cuttings and bring indoors. Simply bunch together, tie and suspend somewhere where you can enjoy its fragrance. Or, consider drying it out to create lavender sachets for your drawers and pillows.