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. 

 

 

Top 10 Money-Saving Crops

January 28th, 2020 | News | 0 Comments

Three seedlings in soil, growing on top of three rows of coins in ascending height

When cash is tight, growing your own nutritious fruits and vegetables is an empowering and rewarding way to stretch precious budgets that little bit further. But what are the highest value crops you can grow to save the most money? We’ve whittled the list down to 10 must-grow favourites, read on or watch the video to find out what they are.

1. Leafy Herbs

Packets of leafy herbs cost a small fortune in the shops because they are hard to store and don’t travel well. But gardeners don’t have to worry about any of that and can grow the likes of basil, parsley and coriander to harvest fresh, as needed. Leafy herbs take up very little room, grow profusely, and with more herbs on hand to liven up mealtimes, they go a long way to ramping up the tastiness of your cooking.

2. Salad Leaves

Loose leaf lettuce heads growing in soil

Cut-and-come-again salad leaves such as loose-leaf lettuce are incredibly compact and, when harvested little and often, a single sowing should continue to produce fresh leaves for months. Expect an abundance of high-value leaves from even just a few containers. For best results grow salads as individual plants, with clear space around them so they have all the sunlight and airflow they need to thrive for longer.

3. Quick-growing Salad Additions

Quick-growing salad toppers such as radishes, baby beets and spring onions offer prized pickings for the cost-conscious gardener, reaching harvest point in as little as four weeks. Make repeat sowings as you harvest, throughout the growing season, and a small patch of soil can yield a surprising weight of fresh produce. You can even grow them in gaps between slower maturing crops so they don’t take up extra space.

4. Climbing Beans

Beans are the epitome of plenty and once they start cropping will continue to produce their pods in abundance all summer long, so long as you keep on picking. Beans are healthy, filling and high in plant protein, making them a very valuable crop. Train them up some trellis or against a traditional A-frame support.

For the most striking effect, however, it’s hard to beat a handsome teepee made from bamboo canes. Plan now for a stunning display. Start seedlings off undercover in late spring then plant one or two per cane. Picking commences just weeks later.

5. Fruiting Vegetables

Like beans, fruiting vegetables that climb, or that can be trained to grow vertically, will produce a lot from a relatively small area. Tomatoes and cucumbers fit into this category, promising heavy harvests of flavoursome fruits from just a few plants. Give them the sunniest spot you can find and feed plants regularly to boost both yield and taste. Pick varieties suited to your climate and be prepared to keep plants well watered in hot weather.

6. Garlic

Whereas onions are cheap to buy and take up quite a lot of space, garlic is relatively costly yet efficient on space. Softneck varieties of garlic store really well too, making this crop ideal for spacing out the usefulness of a single harvest. In most climates garlic is done by midsummer, leaving plenty of time to grow a follow-on crop that will bring further homegrown value to the dinner plate later on in the season.

7. Celery

Celery is an important base ingredient to many soups, stews and salads. It makes our list thanks to its compact shape and the fact you can harvest it one stem at a time, meaning none of the waste associated with purchasing whole heads of celery. Self-blanching varieties are the easiest to grow. Start plants off in plug trays then transplant them leaving about 8 inches (20cm) between plants each way. Water well in dry weather and get ready for a superbly intense flavour.

8. Courgette

Courgettes are infamous for their heavy cropping habit. The courgette’s versatility in the kitchen – used in everything from stir-fries to cakes – makes this one vegetable worth making room for. Grow it in soil that’s been enriched with lots of well-rotted organic matter and you should enjoy a steady stream of fruits all summer long. Try growing companion plants such as marigolds nearby to attract more pollinators to ensure better pollination and even more fruits.

9. Soft Fruits

Three strawberry plants with fruits, in a row in black plant pots

Soft fruits such as strawberries, raspberries and blueberries require careful handling and packaging to keep them blemish-free, which makes them pretty pricey. But grow these fuss-free fruits yourself and you can save the pennies while enjoying some of the tastiest fruits you’ll ever experience. Pick fruits fresh, gently warmed by the sun, and enjoy immediately for a heavenly indulgent experience. Freeze any excess or turn them into jams or jellies.

10. Leafy Greens

Leafy greens such as chard and kale can give a steady supply of leaves for many months, making them very hard-working vegetables. While we’re always being told to ‘eat our greens’, sourcing field-fresh greens, without the wilt, isn’t easy. But with homegrown greens, you’ll always be sure of fresh leaves to twist off and enjoy steamed, stewed or blitzed up into your morning smoothie.

This is by no means a definitive list. It goes without saying you should concentrate on those fruits and vegetables you enjoy eating most, but get smart and start swapping expensive buys with delicious garden-grown replacements. Look for plants that make the most of space, that crop prolifically or that have a superior taste you’d struggle to find in the supermarket without paying over the odds.

What are some of your favourite money-saving crops to grow? Comment below or head over to our Facebook and Twitter page.

New Role for Rachel at Suffolk Seedsman

January 27th, 2020 | News | 0 Comments

Rachel Cole, newly-appointed Seeds Manager for Mr Fothergills

Mr Fothergill’s are pleased to announce a significant promotion for a long-standing and valued member of staff, Rachel Cole. With immediate effect, Rachel will be promoted to the new position of Seeds Manager.

As Seeds Manager, Rachel will take on day-to-day management of the seed store staff on top of her buying and quality control role. Having been at the company for over 20 years, Rachel will be building on her vast experience in seed sourcing, buying and the testing laboratory to take on wider quality responsibilities within the company.

Commercial Director, Tim Jeffries commented “I’m delighted to recognise Rachel’s commitment and undoubted skills. She can now look after our seed from source to packing machine. Her role will oversee sourcing, buying, quality in laboratory testing and optimum storage conditions to ensure premium seed right through to delivery for machine filling. I am confident we have the strongest seed team in the UK if not Europe. Rachel is highly respected throughout the seed trade and I know our suppliers, growers and customers will be as delighted as the team are at Mr Fothergill’s to hear of her enhanced role.”

Mr Fothergill’s Names its New Sweet Pea Mayflower 400

January 27th, 2020 | News | 0 Comments

Leading sweet pea seed supplier Mr Fothergill’s has introduced a new and exclusive ‘Spencer’ variety for the forthcoming season as part of the 400th-anniversary commemoration of the sailing of the Mayflower to the new world in 1620. Sweet Pea Mayflower 400 (RRP £2.40 for 20 seeds) is a ‘Spencer’ type, bred by world-renowned hybridiser Keith Hammett, and produces frilly flowers in a pastel pink flake on a cream background. It is vigorous and free-flowering, with a medium scent.

The Mayflower transported the first English Puritans, known today as the Pilgrims, from Plymouth to the ‘New World’ of America in 1620. All 102 passengers, from England and Holland, established a Plymouth Colony in Massachusetts.

Their story is one of suffering and survival in a harsh environment. The Voyage is one of the most famous in early American history.

Mr Fothergill’s Commercial Director, Tim Jeffries said, “We are delighted to be able to introduce this wonderful Sweet Pea from renowned breeder, Keith Hammett. By naming it as ‘Mayflower 400’ we and the gardening public can play a part in celebrations planned for 2020.”

Chief Executive of Mayflower 400, Charles Hackett commented on the new sweet pea, “I am delighted that the commemoration of the Mayflower’s voyage will be marked by having its own sweet pea named ‘Mayflower 400’. The breadth of events and activities marking this historic voyage is incredible and to have our own sweet pea flowering in the commemoration year will add another unique aspect to the year of the Mayflower 400.”

Sweet pea is available from Mr Fothergill’s retail stockists throughout the UK and from the company’s latest Seed Catalogue or online. Visit your local garden centre for the full range or head over to mr-fothergills.co.uk.

Gold medal winners old and new

January 24th, 2020 | Plant Talk with Graham Rice | 0 Comments

Fleuroselect Gold Medal winners Lavatera 'Silver Cup' and Zinnia ‘Queeny Lime Orange’

Fleuroselect is the Europe-wide organisation that trials new annuals and gives awards to the very best. The idea is to highlight the finest new plants so that home gardeners can choose varieties we can depend on.

Trial grounds where the assessments are made are scattered all across Europe and, in the organisation’s fiftieth anniversary year, a new trials site has been added to the roster – the Mr F trials in Suffolk!

Every year new varieties are grown, unidentified, under code numbers – to eliminate any chance of bias – and voted on by experienced and knowledgeable growers. The very best performers are awarded a coveted Gold Medal.

Now you may wonder what relevance the results from trials sites in Italy or Russia have to us in Britain. Well, if a variety does well enough across Europe to be awarded a Gold Medal then it’s likely to do well in different situations here in Britain.

One of the best early winners was Lavatera ‘Silver Cup’, gaining its Gold Medal in 1979 and still going strong as is Alyssum ‘Snow Crystals’ (1989). The pick of recent Gold medal winners is last year’s Zinnia ‘Queeny Lime Orange’, an entirely new colour in zinnias. Mr F will soon be highlighting the Gold Medal winners in the print catalogue and online.

Of course, many older Gold Medal winners have also been superseded by newer introductions, development is rapid and competition to create improved varieties is intense. But even those winners from long ago are still good plants and worth growing.

Winter weeds

January 17th, 2020 | Plant Talk with Graham Rice | 0 Comments


It’s been wet. And so far the winter has not been cold. In my garden this has meant a few things. Wild primroses were flowering two weeks before Christmas, the gladioli that I left in the ground again were peeping through two weeks ago – and the weeds have grown like crazy.

It’s the weeds that are the most worrying because not only are they growing but they’re flowering and seeding. And while many of the old gardening sayings have doubtful relevance these days, one that does is “One year’s seeding brings seven years weeding.” If those weeds shed seed now, their seeds will be germinating and causing back breaking work for seven years – and probably longer.

I’ve noticed three weeds doing their best to break my back for the next seven years.

White dead nettle (main picture), is kind of sneaky. It’s flowering in a couple of hidden corners of the garden, and in hedgerows all over the place – and it’s very pretty. Fortunately, each of those white flowers only produces four seeds but unless you use a handfork to lever out the roots the flowering stem comes off in your hand and this only encourages the creeping roots to spread further.

Shepherd’s purse (left) is one of those weeds, hairy bitter cress is another, that flowers and seeds when it’s tiny. It’s also the second most common weed on earth! On average it produces 4,500 seeds – per plant! But it can also flower and seed now when only an inch of two tall and a single tiny pod contains about twenty seed.

Even small plants can easily be pulled up by hand, but give then a shake to knock off any soil otherwise you’re only carrying your garden away with the weeds.

The third little beast that’s seeding and flowering now is annual meadow grass. This is another that can flower and seed when young and one which is even more efficient at holding soil in its roots when you pull it out. At the RHS garden at Wisley, a purple-leaved form has evolved in response to hand weeding and hoeing, camouflaging the plant against bare soil so that it’s missed even by diligent Wisley gardeners. Natural selection in action… This dark-leaved form has also been found in Norfolk, Lancashire and Cheshire and elsewhere.

But the lesson with these three weeds is to remove them now, NOW, before they seed, and cause you backache for years. And be sure to shake off as much soil as you can.

Images:
White deadnettle: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/User:MurielBendel
Shepherd’s purse: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/User:Isidre_blanc
Annual meadow grass: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/User:Rasbak