Archive for the ‘News’ Category

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.

Mr Fothergill’s Trial Ground Awarded Fleuroselect Status

January 14th, 2020 | News | 0 Comments

Mr Fothergill’s Seeds, the Newmarket-based seed experts, are delighted to announce our selection as a trial site for Fleuroselect, the international organisation for the ornamental plants industry.

The company will now undertake trials of newly bred, yet to be launched, ornamental varieties on our trial field site and evaluate according to criteria such as wow factor, innovation, and technical features such as floriferousness and garden performance. The assessments will count towards the award of prestigious Fleuroselect gold medals and approved novelty awards.

The last of the UK seed companies with a fully functioning field trial, we will be the furthest west of all the 18 Fleuroselect trial grounds which stretch across mainland Europe to Russia in the east.

A colourful photo of the Mr Fothergills Trial Ground 2017

Tim Jeffries, commercial director at Mr Fothergill’s and a member of the Fleuroselect Home Garden Committee, said: “We are delighted to become a Fleuroselect trial facility as it is further recognition of our place as a leader in the European seed industry. Our trials, run by Brian Talman who has 60 years of horticultural experience, have long been recognised as among the very best of their type in Europe. Although quality control is the main driver of our trials, we also seek to evaluate forthcoming new varieties and their suitability for UK gardeners and this development sits perfectly with that aim.”

Sally van der Horst, secretary general of Fleuroselect added; “Mr Fothergill’s have long been an important member of the Fleuroselect family and a driver for the interests of the home gardener. We are so happy that such a prestigious home gardeners’ trial will include Fleuroselect entries.”

Fleuroselect celebrates its 50th anniversary in 2020 and allows industry professionals to join together to test and evaluate new pot and bedding plants, promote award winners, protect member varieties, network with each other and contribute to the development and advancement of the industry as a whole. The current membership comprises approximately 75 pot and bedding plant breeders, producers and distributors, mostly European, but also from Japan, Russia, the U.S., China and Thailand.

6 Sensational Gardening Hacks

January 13th, 2020 | News | 0 Comments

Seedlings growing in eggshells that are resting in an egg carton

Who doesn’t love clever shortcuts or handy tips that make life easier in the garden? Well, have we got a treat for you because we’re sharing six ingenious ideas to help you achieve more in the garden with less – less time, less effort or less money! You interested? Then let’s dive straight in! Read on or watch the video for our six sensational gardening hacks.

1. Eggshell Pots

We’re egg-cited (sorry!) to get started with our first hack: using eggshells to grow seedlings. Eggshells are completely biodegradable, and as they break down they’ll add valuable nutrients such as calcium to the soil. The shells are free too, assuming you were going to eat their contents anyway, of course. So let’s get cracking!

Carefully peel the top off your morning boiled egg then prick a hole into the bottom using a drawing pin or push pin – this will serve as a drainage hole. Enjoy your egg as normal.

Once you have enough eggshells, boil them in water for one minute to sterilise them, then let them dry. Fill them with seed starting mix, sow, water, then grow your seedlings on somewhere warm and bright. When it’s time to plant, just give the shell a gentle crush between your fingers so the roots are able to get out into the soil, and plant the whole thing.

2. Make Some Fertiliser

A banana peel, some garden leaves, broken eggshells and soil laid out on a wooden surface

Really love your eggs? Then use the leftover shells as part of an organic fertiliser made using kitchen scraps.

Add banana skins, coffee grounds and those eggshells into a blender together with a few cups of water. Whizz it all up into a grainy soup then use the mixture fresh, diluted with more water. This kitchen-created fertiliser is full of nutrients – ideal for use around hungry feeders such as squashes, tomatoes and climbing beans.

3. Stop Losing Plant Labels

Are you forever losing plant labels and with them the handy growing instructions found on the back? Us too! Use a hole punch to make a hole at one end of the label then thread your labels onto a key ring. Hang them up somewhere obvious in the greenhouse or shed so they are always on-hand for easy reference.

4. Care For Tools

While we’re in the shed, let’s give those hand tools some TLC. Mix together sand with vegetable oil. The abrasiveness of the sand will help keep your tools clean, while the oil should prevent blades from rusting.

Fill a pot with your sand-oil mixture then plunge hand tools such as trowels into the mix whenever they’re not in use, or fill a bucket with the mixture to dip spade and fork blades into before putting them away.

Rows of old large plastic bottles sticking out of some soil, being used as cloche protection for young plants

5. Protect Young Plants

Recently transplanted seedlings are vulnerable to frost and chilly winds, but keeping them snug is a cinch with instant cloches made from old bottles. Gallon-sized milk cartons or soft drinks bottles work best. Cut off the bottom, remove the cap so air can circulate and pop them over your plants.

6. Kill Off Weeds

Hoeing and hand weeding is great in beds and borders, but what about niggling weeds sprouting from the cracks in driveways and paving? Nasty chemical weed killers are out for organic gardeners, but scratching around with a weeding tool doesn’t sound like much fun either, so why not see them off with a safe but powerful organic spray you’ve made yourself.

Simply mix one pint or half a litre of white vinegar with two tablespoons of salt and a teaspoon of lemon juice. Add a teaspoon of dish soap too, then stir to combine. Decant into a spray bottle and, with gloves on, spray the potent brew onto weeds. Do this on a still, sunny day and be sure to cover all surfaces. Weeds will quickly wither and die.

And there you have our handy horticultural hacks. Have you got one to add to this list? Comment below or head over to our Facebook and Twitter page.