Archive for the ‘News’ Category

Mr Fothergill’s Announces RHS Range Extension, Introduces New Varieties for the Year of the Cucumber and Refreshes David Domoney Healthy Start POS for 2020 Season

May 14th, 2019 | News | 0 Comments

David Domoney stand has a new look for 2020 - Make a healthy startFollowing the success of the RHS Award of Garden Merit flower and vegetable ranges, Mr Fothergill’s has added a range of seed collection packets in partnership with the experts at the RHS.

The additional range consists of 16 collection packs on a compact hotspot stand. Among 8 flower collections customers can choose from themes like ‘Flowers for Hanging baskets’ or ‘Flowers for Drought-Resistance’ and 8 vegetable collections such as ‘Vegetable Superfoods’ or ‘Vegetables for Heirloom Crops’. Each pack contains 6 specially chosen varieties and has a suggested selling price of £4.99. With eye catching packaging and POS featuring Matthew Pottage, RHS Wisley’s Garden Curator, the collection is easily sited alongside the RHS AGM seed ranges or as a stand-alone display.

Supporting Fleuroselect’s Year of the Cucumber, Mr Fothergill’s has added a new variety to its existing selection. Cucumber Swing F1 (RRP £2.55 for 5 seeds) can be grown outdoors and produces medium size fruits with a small core.

Mr Fothergill's supporting Fleuroselect's Year of the Cucumber Mr Fothergill's supporting Fleuroselect's Year of the Cucumber

The David Domoney stand has a new look for 2020. Make a healthy start… is a new message promoting the importance of eating a ‘rainbow of colours’ for the best diet. Nutritional facts featured on point of sale show what vitamins are in vegetables people eat every day and the free booklet teaches what else to grow to enrich everyone’s diets.Mr Fothergill's Sweet Pea Mayflower 400 commemorates the 400th anniversary of the Mayflower’s pioneering voyage

Among other new and exclusives there is Sweet Pea Mayflower 400 named after the ship that transported the first English Puritans, known today as the Pilgrims, from Plymouth to the New World in 1620. 2020 will commemorate the 400th anniversary of the Mayflower’s pioneering voyage. Sweet Pea Mayflower 400 (RRP £2.40 for 20 seeds) is a ‘Spencer’ type, bred by Keith Hammett and produces frilly flowers in a pastel pink flake on a cream background. Vigorous and free flowering, with a medium scent.

10 Unusual Vegetables for Adventurous Gardeners

May 14th, 2019 | News | 0 Comments

The almost-impossibly vibrant watermelon radish is a stunning winter radish

Growing our own food gives us the opportunity to taste produce as fresh and healthy as it’s possible to get. It also means zero food miles and, if we choose, the chance to grow food with fewer artificial fertilisers and pesticides. But the really exciting reason to grow more of your own is the chance to try something different. There are many quirky crops out there just waiting to be discovered. So if you fancy trying something new, read on or watch the video for our top 10 unusual vegetables to shake things up in the garden.

1. Cardoon

Let’s start with a real monster of a vegetable! Closely related to globe artichoke and with similarly striking thistle-like blooms, cardoons are in fact grown for their incredible architectural stems. Looking a lot like super-sized celery, the earthy stems are delicious served up in a gratin. Cardoon needs lots of space, sunshine and a free-draining soil.

2. Shiso PerillaShiso perilla is more commonly associated with Japanese cuisine, where it’s used in tempuras and sushi

This leafy exotic is more commonly associated with Japanese cuisine, where it’s used in tempuras and sushi. The taste conjures up a curious mix of herbs, from mint to basil, as well as spices such as cinnamon. Red-leaved shiso perilla is a stunner, but it’s the green form that wins on flavour.

3. Oca

Oca is a member of the wood sorrel family, and certainly has its distinctive leaf shape. The leaves can be eaten in moderation but the real treat lies beneath the ground. Oca tubers are rich in vitamin C and may be eaten raw, or cooked in exactly the same ways as potato. Oca is planted in spring with the tubers forming in early autumn.

4. Celeriac

It tastes like a nutty version of celery but is more often mashed like potato – meet celeriac. This hardy, versatile winter root may also be grated raw, boiled or braised, or cut it into cubes and drop it into stews or soups. With young plants going in from spring, this is the perfect follow-on crop for ground recently vacated by other winter staples.

Malabar spinach is an Asian vine with pretty red stems and delicious, fleshy leaves5. Malabar Spinach

This culinary climber is Malabar spinach, an Asian vine with pretty red stems and delicious, fleshy leaves that are perfect in salads or stir-fried. A perennial, grown as an annual in regions prone to frost, Malabar spinach loves rich, fertile soil and grows best in full sun.

6. Kohlrabi

Next up – kohlrabi. Kohlrabi is an almost alien-looking vegetable that’s used in similar ways to turnip. The ‘bulbs’ are in fact swollen stems and taste like tender broccoli. They grow best from the second half of summer and should be harvested before they reach tennis ball size. We love them sliced then baked into healthy fries.

7. Seakale

Let’s take a look at another member of the brassica family – seakale. This quirky perennial needs a permanent bed like rhubarb or asparagus. Seakale is forced into growth in winter and early spring using special forcing pots to give one of the earliest harvests of the season. The tender, pale stems that follow are a real delicacy and cooked just like asparagus. This maritime native prefers free-draining soils.

8. AmaranthAmaranth is also known as ‘love-lies-bleeding'

Move over quinoa, there’s a new grain on the block! Also known as ‘love-lies-bleeding’ – you can see why in the picture – amaranth seeds are full of hugely healthy omega-3 fatty acids. Amaranth grows well in most soils and prefers a warm, sunny spot. Look out for the variety ‘Red Callaloo’ too, grown for its versatile and nutritious leaves.

9. Winter Radish

Round, red radishes are a summer staple, but did you know there’s a whole other side to the humble radish? Just as easy to grow as their summer cousins, winter radishes include the mild-flavored daikon often used in Asian cuisines, the tender-if-formidable-looking ‘Black Spanish’ radish, and the almost-impossibly vibrant watermelon radish. What a stunner!

10. Salsify & Scorzonera

Two very similar vegetables take up our final slot. Salsify and scorzonera both enjoy light, well-drained soil and a sunny, open position. They don’t look like much above ground, but that’s no problem because it’s the super-hardy roots we’re after, which have a delicate, sweet flavour reminiscent of oysters! Lift them as needed from autumn onwards to enjoy boiled or grated raw.

Be adventurous and try a few of these tasty eccentrics – they’ll certainly bring something new to the dinner table. If you’ve grown any of them before please share your experiences by commenting below or head over to our Facebook and Twitter page.

Growing Squash from Sowing to Harvest

May 8th, 2019 | News | 0 Comments

Growing Squash from Sowing to Harvest

Squashes and pumpkins are among the most thrilling vegetables you can grow – it’s the speed with which they do it! One minute the seedlings are tentatively pushing through and then – bosh! – just a few weeks later, they’re great sprawling monsters with masses of leafy foliage and plenty of fruits. They’re so easy to grow too – as long as you can keep up with their insatiable appetite, that is!

Read on or watch the video to find out the very best way to grow them.

Types of Squash

Squash varieties come in all sorts of shapes, patterns and sizes, but fall into one of two categories: winter squash or summer squash. Winter squash are harvested in one go at the end of the growing season to provide a feast of fruits to enjoy over the winter months. They include favourites like butternut squash, spaghetti squash and the myriad of pumpkins. Summer squash are harvested throughout the summer and include, for example, courgette, patty pan and crookneck squashes.

Squash are either trailing or bushy. Trailing squash can be left to sprawl over the soil surface or trained up onto trellising or wire mesh. For really big pumpkins though, it’s best to leave stems to sprawl. They will send down extra roots as they spread to take up even more of those valuable nutrients and moisture.

Where to Grow Squash

Squash love a warm, sunny and sheltered spot – ideal conditions for good pollination and proper fruit developmentSquash love a warm, sunny and sheltered spot – ideal conditions for good pollination and proper fruit development. The plants are hungry feeders and need a rich, fertile soil. Any soil can be improved by barrowing on lots of well-rotted compost or manure, or create planting pockets by digging out a hole for each plant at least two weeks before sowing or planting. Fill the hole with a mixture of soil and compost or manure and top with a handful or organic fertiliser.

Smaller varieties of summer squash may also be grown in containers that are at least 18 inches (45cm) wide.

How to Sow Squash

Sow squash directly where they are to grow after your last frost date. Sow two seeds to each position then thin the seedlings to leave the strongest. Pop a jar, cloche or cold frame over sowing areas to help speed up germination.

A more reliable alternative is to sow into pots under cover. Sow one seed per pot, about an inch (2cm) deep. Germinate in the warmth, at around 60-68°F (15-20°C). Sowings like this can be made up to a month before your last frost to give good-sized plants by planting out time. You may need to pot the quick-growing seedlings on into larger pots before it’s safe to move them outside.

Most garden stores and nurseries also sell ready-to-plant seedlings – handy if you only want to grow a few plants.

How to Plant Squash

Set your plants out after all danger of frost has passed. Start to acclimatise them to outside conditions two weeks beforehand. Leave them out during the day for increasingly longer periods then, from the second week, overnight in a sheltered position. Plant trailing varieties up to 5ft (1.5m) apart and bush types about 3ft (90cm) apart. Thoroughly water plants into position to settle the soil around the rootball.

Caring for Squash

Keep squash plants well watered to encourage rapid growthKeep plants well watered to encourage rapid growth. You can make watering easier by sinking 6-inch (15cm) pots alongside plants. The pots will hold onto the water and deliver it through the drainage holes directly where it’s needed, at the roots. Mulch around plants with organic matter to help lock in valuable soil moisture and contribute additional nutrients.

Stems of especially vigorous varieties can be pegged down at regular intervals to keep them within their allotted space. Larger fruits, particularly pumpkins, should be lifted off the soil, for instance onto tiles, to stop them rotting as they develop.

How to Harvest Squash

Harvest courgette and summer squash as soon as they are the size you need. Pick often to encourage more fruits to follow. Winter squash and pumpkins are harvested in the autumn before the first frosts, usually when the foliage has started to die back or become infected by powdery mildew.

Cut either side of the stem to leave a T-shaped stub. Avoid the temptation to use the stem as a handle as it could detach from the fruit and serve as an entry point to rot. Move fruits to a warm, dry and sunny spot to cure. Curing hardens the skin ready for storage. If it’s already turned cold and damp outside, cure fruits in a greenhouse or on a sunny windowsill. Winter squash and pumpkins will store for up to six months at room temperature.

Growing squashes to be proud of is really very straightforward. What varieties would you recommend? What’re your tips for growing bigger, bolder fruits? Comment below or head over to our Facebook and Twitter page.

The 5 Best Crops for Your Edible Container Garden

May 3rd, 2019 | News | 0 Comments

5 Best Crops for Your Edible Container Garden

Growing some or even all of your crops in containers offers greater flexibility – and opportunities too. You can grow edibles in pots that you can’t in your soil, easily move frost-tender plants under cover when it gets cold, or perhaps use containers to make the most of a suntrap patio.

Most edibles can be grown in pots, but it got us thinking – if we had to pick five of the best crops to grow this way, what would they be? It’s a tough one, but we’ve given it a go. Read on or watch the video to find out more.

1. Strawberries

Let’s start with something sweet and tempting – juicy strawberries! Who doesn’t love the prospect of freshly-picked berries, ripened to perfection for maximum flavour?

As well as pots, try growing them in guttering, hanging baskets or purpose-bought strawberry planters too. They need a nutrient-rich, moisture-retentive potting soil to really thrive. For best results, mix some organic fertiliser into the potting soil before planting.

Container-grown strawberries should escape the attention of most slugs, but you might still have to protect developing fruits from birds. Make sure birds can’t get under any netting you use. A mulch of straw or gravel will help to keep the fruits clean and the root zone cool and moist.

2. Tomatoes

stockier bush types and smaller tumbling varieties of tomato are easy to grow in containers because they don’t need any pruning or pinching out as they grow

Grow tomatoes in tubs and pots for an at-the-ready supply of fruits bursting with taste. Like strawberries they need lots of nutrients, consistent moisture and, of course, sunshine if they are to ripen their fruits in a timely fashion.

All types of tomato can be grown in pots, but stockier bush types and smaller tumbling varieties are easiest because they don’t need any pruning or pinching out as they grow. Tumbling tomatoes can even be grown in hanging baskets. Plant a few marigolds with your tomatoes – they’ll add some colour and their scent is said to help to repel aphids. Use a potting mix that includes some added loam, which will help it hold moisture for longer.

Closely related aubergine and peppers are also great candidates for container growing.

3. Salad Leaves

Salad leaves are both quick and easy to grow, and because they’re shallow-rooted, make the perfect pick for a container crop. The whole plant can be harvested at once or as cut-and-come-again leaves, picked as and when you need them over several weeks.

Extend the harvest by sowing a new pot of salad leaves every 3-4 weeks. Towards the end of the season, protect the plants with row covers or move the pots into a cold frame to keep the leaves coming for even longer.

Sow a mixture of leaves for a range of leaf shapes, colours and textures. Lettuce is the obvious choice, joined by the likes of rocket, mizuna and mustard. Pots of other salad staples, including radish and spring onion, are natural partners to your leafy lovelies.

4. Carrots

Carrots are great for growing in tall containers to protect them from dreaded pests like carrot flySmaller varieties of carrot are exceptional crunched raw as part of a salad or lightly steamed to preserve their sweet taste. They’re just the job for tall containers because growing them this way means they’re less likely to be attacked by their low-flying nemesis, the carrot fly.

Sow carrots throughout spring and summer, starting the season with a hardier, early variety. Mixing the tiny seeds with sand will help to space them out as you sow, though it’s likely some thinning of the seedlings will still be necessary. Harvest finger-sized roots in stages, taking the biggest first so that those left can continue to grow.

5. Chard

Our fifth container crop is chard – a prolific leafy vegetable with a very long harvest period, making it exceptionally hard working for the space it occupies. Varieties come in a range of truly spectacular stem colours that almost appear to glow against the light. Chard isn’t just productive, it’s a bit of a head-turner too!

Sow chard directly into containers from spring, or start them off in plug trays to plant as seedlings. Plants should end up at least 6 inches (15cm) apart. You should be able to pick your first leaves about three months after sowing. Pick little and often to encourage more leaves to follow. Looked after well, chard can potentially crop until well into autumn, and in milder areas throughout the winter.

Caring for Container Crops

Container crops don’t have a very extensive root system, so you’ll need to keep plants hydrated in dry weather, watering up to twice a day in summer. Nourish plants with liquid fertiliser during the growing season. Tomato feed that’s high in potassium is good for both tomatoes and strawberries, while a general-purpose feed such as liquid seaweed is suitable for most other potted crops. Direct sunshine is almost always welcomed, but leafy salads and chard may prefer a shadier aspect in relentlessly hot conditions.

So that’s our top five crops for pots – we hope you’re tempted to grow at least a few of them! What are your favourite edibles to grow in containers? Comment below or head over to our Facebook and Twitter page.

May Gardening Advice

May 1st, 2019 | News | 0 Comments

Mr Fothergill's May Gardening Advice 2019

This is the month of the Chelsea Flower Show, where we see gardens and gardeners come together and celebrate the horticulture industry. For over one hundred years, it has showcased new and exciting plants, designs and pioneering growing techniques. Whether you’re looking for something for the garden, something for the allotment or something that will make your green fingers twitch, you’ll find it at this glorious event.

May is also the time for the ‘Chelsea Chop’, when we can take our perennials (such as Phlox, Sedums and Heleniums), and prune, or reduce them by 50%. This helps create a bushier plant with more blooms. Also, if you have a border of perennials which you want to flower simultaneously, then the Chelsea Chop is often the answer as it can help delay flowering.

With the ground warming up, we can begin thinking about both sowing and planting out directly into the soil. The plants you’ve been nurturing in the greenhouse can be hardened-off and planted into their final growing positions. Seed-grown vegetables can be brought out from the polytunnel, planted into their final positions, and then protected with either fleece or netting. But May can be a fickle month. Your garden can be basking in sunshine one moment, and drenched in a heavy downpour the next. So, keep your eye on the weather forecast, keep horticultural fleece handy, and be prepared to act if the weather takes a turn for the worse.

May is a great month to be a gardener. So, enjoy the warmer days, lighter evenings, and get out there and create something special.

In the flower garden

Spring bulbs

Now that they’ve flowered and the foliage has died back, this is the time to lift and divide your spring bulbs. Before your summer plants dominate the flowerbeds, think about where you want to see your spring bulbs to appear next year, and get them into the ground.

Summer bedding

Give your plants regular water and liquid feed to encourage large, long-lasting bloomsWith the chance of frost now waning, towards the end of the month you should think about getting your summer bedding plants into the ground, hanging baskets, pots or containers. Once planted, ensure you give them a regular water and a regular liquid feed to encourage large, long-lasting blooms. If you’re using containers, or hanging baskets, consider planting them up with water-retaining granules. If you already have established plant pots, then give them a top dressing, or re-pot with fresh compost and soil.

Dahlias

The dahlia tubers potted on back in early spring should now be producing sufficient foliage for them to be hardened off, and planted into their final growing positions. If you’ve just bought tubers, the ground should be warm enough for them to be directly planted into the soil. Remember, plants are now growing quickly, so highlight where you planted them with a label or bamboo cane.

Lawn

Grass will be thriving, so mow your lawn weekly. Also, trim edging and remove any weeds. If you do decide to use chemicals, always consider who uses the lawn, and where the liquid runs off to. You wouldn’t want to damage a flower bed, and you definitely wouldn’t want to harm a family member or pet.

Pests

Pests, such as the lily beetle and greenfly, will be making an appearance. Check all plant foliage regularly, and dispose of any unwanted visitors. A good time to spot slugs and snails is first thing in the morning, around dusk, or after any rainfall.

Maintenance

The garden is putting on growth daily. However, with the risk of a late frost, it’s good to keep horticultural fleece handy. For your climbers, such as sweet peas, roses and perennials, ensure they are staked and tied into a support. You wouldn’t want all your months of hard work to be damaged by As temperatures continue to rise, be sure to get into a regular watering regime with all plantsa single bout of bad weather. Keep an eye out for blackspot on roses. Remove any affected foliage from sight, or treat with a fungicide.

Weeds will be competing with your plants for both water and nutrients. Remove immediately, or they could strangle and starve your plants.

Over the next few months, temperatures will continue to rise, so get into a regular watering regime with all plants, especially ones grown in pots, containers and hanging baskets. A regular liquid feed is also advisable.

On the veg patch

Fruit

Strawberries, gooseberries, raspberries and currants will now be developing fruit. Water regularly, and keep free of weeds. Check plants regularly for pests, such as sawfly and aphids, dispose of them and net plants. If you’ve been growing strawberries on open plots, or raised beds, then place dry straw around the plants to protect fruit from rotting, and help suppress weeds. Ensure you water at the base of the plant only, not overhead, as this will encourage mildew.

Continue to pick rhubarb, but take no more than half from the plant. Ensure you hold the stem at the base, then pull it away from the plant. Otherwise, you could damage the crown.

Broad beans

Stake broad beans with canes and lengths of string, as this will take the weight of developing pods, and prevent wind damage. Keep an eye out for blackfly, and spray any affected plants with diluted soapy water, or remove by hand. Once pods start growing upwards from the lower part of the plant, pinch out the growing tips at the top. Not only will this help reduce blackfly, it will encourage healthy pods.

Planting out

Ensure brassicas, french beans and runner beans are planted in well, watered and mulchedChances are, you’ve grown vegetables from seed earlier this year. By now, they’ve hopefully grown into strong plants and are ready to go out. Brassicas, French beans and runner beans can be planted out. Ensure they are planted in well, watered and mulched. As the temperature rises, they will need all the moisture they can get. If cabbage root fly is a problem on your plot, think about fitting your brassicas with collars at the base of the plant. This will prevent the flies laying eggs, which will hatch into hungry larvae.

Depending where you are in the country, pumpkins, squashes and courgettes may need to be delayed until warmer temperatures. Otherwise, plant out into rich soil, or compost. These are hungry plants, and will need plenty of watering, and nutrients for them to help set fruit.

Sowing

In some parts of the country, the soil will be warm enough for direct sowing. As well as beetroot, peas and carrots, sow successional lettuce, spinach and radishes. As these seedlings develop, thin out accordingly, water well, and keep weed free.

Greenhouse

With all the seedlings you have growing in the greenhouse, remember to prick out and pot on. If you don’t, they will be starved of nutrients, or grow too big for their plug/tray and die. However, there will be plants that are ready to be taken out. Some may need hardening off, but they will be ready for their final growing positions.

Keep on top of your greenhouse this monthAs space becomes available in both the greenhouse and polytunnel, think about potting up your summer greenhouse plants, such as tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, chillies, and melons. Place these into their final greenhouse positions, and establish a regular water and feeding regime. As these plants develop, they will need staking.

With temperatures rising, consider providing shade in your greenhouse, to prevent plants being scorched. On warm days, damp down the floor to increase humidity and help prevent red spider mite. If your structure has vents, use them.

Other jobs

If temperatures are rising outside, they’ll also be rising inside, so consider the best place for your indoor plants. A south-facing window may be too harsh for some plants, so consider moving them to a shadier spot.

Remove duckweed from ponds. Lay debris to side of pond overnight. Giving a chance for any caught wildlife to return to the water. Next day, remove waste from site.

Some plants will need extra watering and feeding to cope with the warmer conditions, and some plants will need less, so consider their needs and avoid stressing them.

If you have a tropical plant, make sure you give it a daily misting. Dust plant foliage regularly, and check for infections and pests.