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April Gardening Advice

April 1st, 2018 | News, The flower garden, The vegetable garden | 0 Comments

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This is the month we take our foot off the brake, and dive headlong into sowing and planting. However, an overnight frost can undo all our hard work, so proceed with caution. The days may feel balmier, but Jack Frost is still waiting in the wings, and will take great delight in scuppering your plans.

 

In the flower garden

WEEDS

At the first sign of warmth, weeds will make their presence felt. Young plants need all the nutrients they can get, so don’t let them lose out to weeds. Remove all weeds from beds, making sure you pull them out by the roots.

 

ROSES

As climbing and rambling roses start to flourish, you may need to tie in the new growth. As it’s April, there’s still potential for a late frost and high winds, so secure them safely, and you will be rewarded with a display of stunning blooms later in the season.

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STAKING

You may notice perennials starting to sway under their new growth. To prevent damage, stake them. Do it sooner rather than later, as the root ball is keen to grow, and you run the risk of damaging it if you leave it too late in the season.

 

BULBS

It’s time to get those newly bought summer bulbs and corms into the ground, or into pots. If you’re planting in pots, ensure the compost has plenty of grit, so water can drain off easily and not cause the bulbs to rot. It’s also a good idea to place crocks at the base of the pot to improve drainage.

 

If you’re planting bulbs into beds, think about how the final display might look, and provide sufficient plant space and a good supply of sunlight. If you haven’t planted bulbs before, then the rule of thumb is to plant the bulb at a depth of three times its height. If your soil is heavy, add grit to the base of the hole, and then fill with a gritted-compost mixture.

 

DAFFODILS

Your yellow and white floral trumpets are probably now past their best. Before they go to seed, deadhead them. That way, the energy will go into the bulb in readiness for next year’s display. Let the foliage die back naturally to harness the sun’s energy.

 

WINTER ANNUALS

Flowers, such as winter pansies, will be keen to set seed, so regularly remove faded flowers to encourage new displays.

 

PRIMROSES

At this stage, they have probably finished flowering. Now’s the time to lift and divide. Whether it’s with your hands, or a trowel, prise the plants apart. Don’t worry about damaging them as they’re quite tough. Re-plant where you would like to see them appear next year.

 

HANGING BASKETS

If you ordered annuals for your hanging baskets earlier this year, they could now be turning up on your doorstop. Get them into their baskets, with a good compost and slow-release fertiliser, and also consider water retention gel to help them through those long hot summer days. Once potted up, keep them in the greenhouse until the last frost has passed, giving a chance for your plug plants to grow on. Then either place them in a cold frame, or outside during the day, for a week or two. Then place them in their final hanging positions and create a regular watering regime. Bear in mind, they will require extra watering during the summer months.

 

PLANT OUT SWEET PEAS

If you pinched out your sweet peas last month, then they should now be starting to bush up. Towards the end of the month, you should think about planting them out. Whether it’s directly into the ground, or into a container, make sure you use a support so the tendrils have something to latch onto. Keep an eye on their growth, as they will quickly need to be tied in.

 

LAVENDER, SAGE AND ROSEMARY

April is the time to prune these herbs. Try to do it on a dry, sunny day. Remove any dead and diseased foliage but avoid cutting into the woody parts of the plant.

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HARDENING OFF

Depending on where you are in the country, towards the end of the month you may want to start hardening off certain plants to get them ready for planting out in May. By hardening off, you’re simply getting plants that you’ve sown indoors, acclimatised to cooler, outdoor temperatures. For example, if you’ve been growing sweet peas, they will grow all the better for a few weeks in a cold frame before planting out into their final position. If you don’t have a cold frame, then place your plants outside on a bright day for a few hours, then bring them in before the temperature drops, or the weather takes a turn for the worse.

 

SLUGS AND SNAILS

At the first sign of warmer weather and fresh growth, slugs and snails are quick to appear on the scene. If the use of chemicals doesn’t appeal, then think about setting beer traps. Or, patrol your garden early in the morning, dusk or just after rainfall, remove by hand, and dispose.

 

On the veg patch

SOW

You can finally think about stepping up your sowing regime. Consider crops such as salads, radishes, beetroot, chard, kohl rabi, carrots and parsnips. If the ground is still too cold, sow into modules, trays or pots, then keep them somewhere warm, with plenty of sunlight, such as a greenhouse or polytunnel.

 

Any seeds sown back in March, may now need thinning out, or even re-potting. Remember, as you carry out this task, it’s important to hold the seedling by their ‘true leaves’, not their stems. While a damaged leaf won’t hamper the plant’s growth, a damaged stem will leave the young plant helpless.

 

If your ground is prepped and ready to go, think about sowing peas, leeks, carrots, broad beans or cabbage. Remember to sow little and often, otherwise, in a few months’ time you could end up with a glut.

 

Towards the end of the month, you could consider sowing members of the cucurbit family; pumpkins, squashes, marrows, cucumbers and courgettes can all be sown indoors. You can also sow runner beans and sweet corn.

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POTATOES

This is the month to finish planting the last of your chitted tubers, but it’s a good idea to keep your horticultural fleece handy. With one eye on the weather report, you may have to cover exposed foliage if there’s any sign of frost. If your potato plants have substantial growth, consider earthing them up. This will not only protect the plant, but will encourage it to produce more potatoes, stop them turning a poisonous green, and can even prevent blight.

 

HERBS

If you don’t have the space for a herb garden, then grow them in pots and containers. Give them plenty of sunshine, and plant them into some well-gritted soil. As herbs often originate from hot Mediterranean climates, it’s advisable to try and replicate these conditions, so don’t overwater.

 

STRUCTURES

If you’re growing beans and peas, then think about setting up your runner bean poles. Peas will also need a support structure, such as netting, poles or twiggy hazel sticks. Prep the beds and get your structures ready.

 

FRUIT TREES AND SOFT FRUIT

A warmer climate will encourage hungry pests to seek out buds and blossom. Rid your plants either by chemical means or diluted soapy water. Failing that, a pair of hands can do the job equally well. Keep an eye-out for the eggs as well as the pests themselves, as once hatched, the damage can be devastating. It might be an idea to net your fruit to reduce pests such as aphids, and to also deter birds.

 

Indoors

WATERING

Longer days and warmer temperatures will encourage your indoor plants to grow, so you may need to step up your watering regime. Larger plants will require extra watering and possibly a liquid feed.

Come to the RHS Wisley Spring Plant Fair

March 19th, 2018 | News | 0 Comments

March-Spring-plant-fair-RHS-WisleyA plethora of plants will be on sale in the garden for the weekend of the Spring Plant Fair. Pick up inspiration and advice from the RHS Garden Wisley from the 23 to the 25 March.

New gardeners and experienced plantsmen alike can pick up hints and tips from expert advisors and choose from a wide range of quality plants. Begin with instant impact from colourful shrubs or start your summer by choosing bulbs and annual seeds for scent.

 

The Spring Plant Fair will be open the 23rd, 24th and 25th March from 9.30am-4.30pm.

 

Mr Fothergill’s is proud to have entered into a new partnership with The RHS to bring out a range of flower seeds and vegetable seeds for home gardeners.  The extensive flower seed range creates beautiful garden displays with excellent performance. Additionally they have been awarded RHS’s perfect for pollinators, as the best source of food for pollinating insects.  The vegetable collection, of 56 AGM varieties, includes excellent modern strains as well as much-loved, trusted favourites.

The RHS Award of Garden Merit is a mark of quality, awarded to garden plants with excellent garden performance. Each award is given only after a trial at an RHS Garden and judge by a team of experts.

Royal Horticultural Society

To browse all the RHS events follow this link to the website.

Take a look at the RHS Range of flower seeds and vegetable seeds on the Mr Fothergill’s website.

 

Our Night Rider to Make his Garden Releaf Debut

March 7th, 2018 | Events, News | 0 Comments

Richard Keegan, National Field Sales Manager here at Mr Fothergill’s, began his training for the 100-mile Garden ReLeaf bike ride on 16th March with a 5-mile cycle-ride in the dead of night as he was so embarrassed that someone might see him. He came back “knackered” and realised the gravity of what he had just agreed to do!

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Matt Jackson ready for anything!

The problem started for Richard soon after Business Development Manager, Matt Jackson, suggested the ride. After agreeing, he realised he didn’t even have a bike, so he had to borrow his partners bike and raise the saddle!

Training has continued and Richard comments: “After buying a little bit of kit – shorts, shoes and helmet – borrowing a bike from a mate and a lot of training rides in the snow, ice, rain and wind (a lot of the last two) I completed my first big ride last Saturday 74 miles. I’m really not sure how the day itself will go, but I am hoping riding with other people will make the whole thing easier but whatever, it’s all for a great cause!”

Richard will be joined by Matt Jackson who ran the 20-mile walking course last year! Like Rich, he has trained hard and has also bought a new bike, lots of winter gear and a turbo trainer! Matt says, “it’s been miserable at times training in this rotten weather but as long as we raise plenty of money for charity it is worth it!”

Richard and Matt are part of the Team Lightning Seeds from Mr Fothergills. They will be joined on the day by 20-mile walkers Tim Jeffries, Jeremy Sharp, Ian Cross, Alison Mulvaney and Chris Owen. In addition, staff at the Kentford HQ will be completing various fund-raising events in the Mr Fothergills HQ

To support the team, visit our JustGiving page by clicking here.

New Vegetable Varieties in our Seed Range

March 6th, 2018 | News, The vegetable garden | 0 Comments

We have strengthened our vegetable seed range with the introduction of nine new and two exclusive varieties for the 2018 season, all of which promise excellent yield and flavour.

Carrot Speedo (RRP £2.29 for 350 seeds) is a fast growing and early maincrop ‘Nantes’ variety which matures 90 days after sowing. It has a uniform, cylindrical shape and smooth skinned roots. This high quality carrot has good external and internal colour and a well-rounded tip at maturity.

In support of Fleuroselect’s Year of the Pepper campaign we have introduced the exclusive Pepper (Hot) Curry Pepper (RRP £2.45 for 10 seeds). It produces 15cm long fruits on compact plants. It is full of hot flavour, can be used both fresh or dried and is at its best when still green or light green.

Another new pepper added to the range is Pepper (Hot) Havana Gold (RRP £2.69 for 10 seeds). It is a vigorous plant, great for large crops of attractive fruits. Havana Gold has the amazing habanero flavour but with half the heat. Perfect fresh or dried and suitable for freezing.

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Besides peppers we have also introduced a selection of other varieties including Pea (Mangetout) Sweet Sensation (RRP £2.69 for 150 seeds), well-known for good resistance to mildew. It is an early crop variety producing sweet and crunchy pods.

Broccoli (Autumn) Covina (RRP £2.45 for 50 seeds), quality harvests over a long season. It produces solid, domed heads with medium sized beads.

Carrot Purple Sun F1 (RRP £2.99 for 350 seeds), a maincrop sweet nantes type, with rich purple flesh throughout.

Leek Navajo (RRP £3.49 for 50 seeds), distinguishes itself with extreme hardiness for crops throughout winter, producing long, easy to clean shanks.

Lettuce Thimble (RRP £2.05 for 200 seeds), resistant to bolting and tipburn diseases, producing dense heads of crisp leaves. This mini-romaine type can be cooked, grilled or used fresh in salads.

Tomato Sweetbaby (RRP £2.29 for 10 seeds) is an indeterminate outdoors or greenhouse growing variety that produces delicious and sweet, small cherry-sized toms.

Make Your Own Seed Starting Mix

March 5th, 2018 | News | 0 Comments

It’s that time of year again: seed sowing time. Sowing the first seeds of the growing season is always incredibly exciting. Think about all the fresh, home-grown products to come.

If you are planning on starting to sow in containers, you will need seed starting mix. And since buying this is often quite expensive, we will show you how to make your own.

 

Seed starting Mix

The perfect seed starting mix, should not be too high in nutrients, which could harm delicate seedlings. The mix should also hold on to moister without becoming soggy. Overly wet conditions can rot seeds and encourage fungal diseases such as damping off.

Here is a very simple recipe: It’s a soilless recipe so it’s beautifully light and fluffy. All the ingredients are natural too, promoting good strong growth and healthy, happy seedlings.

Seed-starting-mixBegin with 2 parts compost as your base. All parts measured by volume; So it doesn’t matter what you use to measure your ingredients, as long as you are consistent.

The compost adds slowly released nutrients to the mix, which will help to feed seedlings as they grow. You can use your own garden compost or buy some.

Break up clumps with your hands or screen/sift it to get a fine even texture.

Then add 2 parts coir or coconut fiber. If your coirs come in a block, rehydrate it first by soaking it in a bucket of water until you can easily break it apart. If you prefer you could substitute well-rotted leafmould instead of the coir.

Finally, add 1 part perlite, which will both lighten the mix and improve its air content. You can substitute perlite with sand, but it will give you a heavier mixture.

Mix all the ingredients together, create a consistent mix with all the ingredients evenly distributed. Once done, store the seed starter mix in a lidded container or in a plastic sac. Store your mix in a dry cool place.

 

Using your seed starting mix

Moisture your seed starting mix a little bit before using it, for it to be damp but not sodden. You can use your mix for sowing into plug trays, plastic pots, seeds trays or any other container suitable for seed sowing.

Gently press down your seed starting mix as you fill your container and take particular care to properly fill out the corners. Top up with more mix if required. Sow your seeds according to the package’s instructions and water. Watering requires some care if you don’t want to blast the mix out of the container.

Once the seedlings have germinated, it is best to water them from below. Put your containers in shallow trays of water, until the surface of the mix is moist.

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Potting on

Many seedlings need potting on into larger containers at least once before it’s time to plant them out. Most will be happy in the same seed starting mix. But for hungrier seedlings like tomato for example, they will appreciate something a bit richer. Adding some worm compost, gives it the nutritional boost for after.

 

Container Potting Mixes

Try this potting mix for plants to be grown in larger containers.

Combine 2 parts garden compost with 1 part coir or leamould. Now add some perlite for drainage. 2-3 generous handfuls to every 10 gallons or 40 liters of the coir/compost mix. A similar amount of worm compost can also be added for hungry plants. Or incorporate a slow release organic fertilizer according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

Plants grown in the same container for a very long time need a potting mix that holds its structure. Loam or good quality garden soil offers this.

Simply combine 1 part loam or garden soil with 1 part garden compost. Then add some slow releasing organic fertilizer.

 

Making your own potting mix will save you a lot of money, but the other benefit of these recipes is that they can also be tweaked depending on what you are growing.

 

 

These are just a few tips and ideas to help you create your own sowing mix. If you have any additonal tips let us know which ones in the comments below or head over to our Facebook and Twitter page and tell us what you would recomend.