Archive for the ‘News’ Category

What Happened In June At The Mr Fothergill’s Trial Ground

June 29th, 2017 | News, The flower garden, The vegetable garden | 0 Comments

So June turned out to be as hectic as expected plus a bit more. Weeding and planting out were the themes of the month and the trial field is suddenly taking shape.

But the biggest transformation has probably been in the main polytunnel; all the early sown transplants had to be moved out to allow the indoors tomatoes to go into their final positions.  Brian’s tried and trusted method is three plants per grow bag, each planted into a 10 litre pot.  With over 90 varieties of tomato in the tunnel trial that’s a mammoth task.

We had great success with the few aubergine varieties we grew in the tunnel last year so we’ve increased that trial and we’re looking at 13 different varieties this year.  Brian likes to grow them the same way as the tomatoes, however they need to be kept moist to stop the dreaded red spider mite – at the first sign of these the plants will have to go!

Out on the field, the first-year flowering perennials were the first to be planted, followed quickly by the half hardy annuals.  We managed to pick some of the hottest days of the year to do this, but the trials team did brilliantly, helped out by several of the office staff who gave up their time to help.  The plants have had to be watered in well but they’re now looking great and we have some splashes of colour out there already.

On the veg front, the sweet corn, leeks and spring onions are all now out in the field and looking good.  We had a bit of a disaster with the brassica trial, first of all it was attacked by slugs and snails then it suffered with the high temperatures and it looks like we’ve lost several rows.  So a resow is in progress and hopefully we’ll still have something to see, albeit later than originally planned.


However, we’ve had great results so far with the indoor cucumber and melon trial.  This year we’ve allocated our two smaller tunnels to these two species, with 14 different cucumbers in one and 8 melons, including baskets of the fascinating Cucamelon in the other.  The melons include both water melons and more standard types so we’re excited to see how well they perform this year.

The staff competitions are now in full swing.  We’ve got several wildlife patches coming to life – the brief is to create a wildlife friendly garden to include a home-made insect hotel.  We’ve got 11 entries to the competition now underway with a wide range of style and ideas coming together on a daily basis.

What Happened In May At The Mr Fothergill’s Trial Ground What Happened In May At The Mr Fothergill’s Trial Ground







The pumpkin growing competition also kicked off this month.  14 teams are competing not only to grow a pumpkin but also to carve it for a Halloween display.  The variety they are all growing is Pumpkin Polar Bear which produces lovely bright white skin, so we’re hoping for some really imaginative creations come Halloween.

We’re now getting to the end of the planting out phase, with quick cropping courgettes, peas, lettuce, dwarf beans, beetroot, chard, spinach, radish and baby leaf left to go.  But before we can get on to them we have to clear a huge crop of the hated muckweed / fat hen / Chenopodium that has suddenly taken advantage of the warm, wet weather.  Seemingly overnight, bare areas of the trial field have been smothered with this amazingly fast growing weed.  Apparently, a single plant can produce 20,000 seeds so the focus is on getting rid of it as quickly and efficiently as possible.

10 Smart Watering Tips for Your Vegetable Garden

June 28th, 2017 | News | 0 Comments

10 Smart Watering Tips for Your Vegetable Garden

Water is a truly precious resource. Getting smart with the way we water saves time and money while boosting plant health. This post will guide you through the methods of watering your garden correctly.

  1. Water selectively – watering by hand means you can be more selective about which plants you water. Only water if they really need it. If you’re not sure, you can check the soil moisture at root level if it’s cool and damp just move on.
  2. Water at the right time – when you water makes a big difference to how much moisture your plants take up. Watering early in the morning gives crops time to absorb the moisture before it evaporates in the heat of the day. Any water that gets on the foliage will also have enough time to dry off before nightfall minimising the risk from slugs and fungal diseases.
  3. Aim carefully – if you’re watering by hand, be sure to aim the flow of water at the base of plants where it’s needed, so that every drop counts. This will also keep foliage dry. A really good soaking every now and then is better than little and often and will encourage a more extensive root system.
  4. Trap water – sunken plastic pots make excellent miniature reservoirs. Sink them up to the rim next to thirsty plants such as squash then water into the pot. The pot will hold the water so it seeps gradually into the soil rather than running off on the surface.
  5. Irrigate efficiently – if you want to automate watering, opt for drip irrigation or leaky hoses over sprinklers. These types of irrigation deliver water closer to the ground so that less is wasted. Place your setup on a timer and override it if it’s been raining or if rain is due.

There are more tips available on the video below! If you have any advice on watering your vegetable garden, then let us know in the comments below or on our social media.

GrowVeg – 10 Smart Watering Tips for Your Vegetable Garden

More bees have flown into Mr Fothergill’s headquarters in Kentford

June 20th, 2017 | News | 0 Comments

A few months ago, our Technical Manager Alison Mulvaney moved her beehive to the Mr Fothergill’s trial ground. You can read more about that here on a previous post. Now, Alison has moved in a second hive to the trial grounds at Kentford!

A plea went out to Alison to come and collect a swarm that had started to make its home in a chimney.  The swarm proved impossible to extract from the chimney so, with the assistance of a cherry picker, the cowl was collected along with the bees, placed in a cardboard box and wrapped in an old sheet.  The whole lot was then put into a plastic clip box for transport, so that it could be transported to Alison’s home.

Alison talks through how she moved the bees into their new home:

“Once I got it home I shook as many bees as possible into their new home and left the cowl in front of the hive, using the sheet as a ramp for the stragglers to walk in.  The chimney cowl, box and sheets were then returned to the original owner as the farmer wanted the cowl back on his chimney!”


Since their subsequent move to the trial grounds at Kentford, the colony have settled in well.   They are already producing new comb and laying eggs to build up their numbers. We look forward to seeing how our new residents get on, and will keep you updated on their progress as they settle into their new home.

If you have any top tips on beekeeping to help guide us, then please leave us a message in the comments below or head over to our Facebook and Twitter pages.


Business Development Appointment at Mr Fothergill’s Seeds

June 14th, 2017 | News | 0 Comments

Business Development Appointment at Mr Fothergill’s SeedsMatt Jackson has joined Mr Fothergill’s as Business Development Manager.

This is a new role and Matt will work with the key garden centre groups and collaborate closely with the field sales teams. He comes to us after 12 years in the garden centre supply trade and brings great experience to the position.

Matt said:

“I am delighted to be joining Mr Fothergill’s to team up with their accomplished sales force. There are exciting plans for the future and I hope to contribute my part to the full!”

In his personal life, Matt enjoys travelling and sport. He has run over 100 road races in the past including two trips around the London Marathon course. He is now concentrating more on road cycling and has ambition to complete the severely testing, mountainous, Etape du Tour race in France. He is also a Manchester United season ticket holder but the company hasn’t held that against him!

Mr Fothergill’s Launches Biggest Advancement in Seed Technology Since Introduction of F1 Hybrids

June 7th, 2017 | News | 0 Comments

Our 2018 Optigrow range brings benefits for retailers and home gardeners with premium pricing, faster germination and better garden performance.

Mr Fothergill’s is the first retail seed brand to adopt revolutionary Swedish seed priming technology previously only available to professional growers. The firm has carved a niche for developing new seed marketing concepts to target specific market segments, skill levels and price points. We are marking 40 years of business in 2018 with the launch of the Optigrow seed range, which it says is the most exciting development for home growers since the introduction of F1 hybrid seed varieties.

The non-chemical treatment supersedes all previous priming treatments, speeding up germination and bringing other benefits that were previously only available to commercial growers. Seed shelf life is greatly extended compared with traditional seed priming, providing a longer sales window, while the technology and end results allow for a premium price point in store, further increasing profits for retailers.

Seed technology

The process uses just water and air to get the seed biologically ready for germination, breaking seed dormancy prior to use. At this point the seed is dried back to a storable state for packing. The technology brings genuine and valuable performance benefits to 20 of the most popular vegetable seed varieties in the Mr Fothergill’s range, making its best sellers even better.

Mr Fothergill’s Retail Marketing Manager, Ian Cross, said:

“The Optigrow range marks a real step change in the seed market and is certainly the most exciting development since the introduction of F1 hybrids. In fact, the process the seeds go through is so much more than simple priming that we refer to it as seed ‘vitalising’. Not only does it significantly speed up germination times, it creates greater garden performance too.”

Through extensive trialling, the Optigrow process has been proven to produce more vigorous seedlings, stronger weed competition, more uniform crops and better end results, leading to greater success and better harvests for the home gardener. There is also evidence that germination becomes possible under a wider range of conditions, allowing gardeners to sow Optigrow seeds in colder, warmer and drier conditions than the ideal. In comparison trials nearly 80% of Optigrow treated Carrot Amsterdam seed germinated within 50 hours from sowing, compared to 90 hours for the same percentage of standard seed.”

The benefits of the Optigrow range are supported by contemporary packet design, a stand-alone hot spot stand and simple explanatory point of sale material to give the range prime focus in retail areas, creating one of the strongest 2018 seed offerings available to garden centres, shops and retail outlets. Orders are now being taken for delivery from January 2018.