Archive for the ‘News’ Category

Mr Fothergill’s Announces RHS Range Extension

September 3rd, 2019 | News | 0 Comments

RHS Mr Fothergill's Flowers for Cutting Seed CollectionRHS Mr Fothergill's Vegetables for Easy Growing Seed Collection

Following the success of the RHS Award of Garden Merit flower and vegetable ranges, leading seeds and plants supplier Mr Fothergill’s has added a seed collection range to its selection of seed products for gardeners, again in partnership with the experts at the Royal Horticultural Society.

The RHS believes it’s possible for everybody to enjoy growing flowers and vegetables from seed and get great results, whatever space or experience they have. And, with themes including ‘Flowers for Cutting’ and ‘Vegetables for Easy Growing’, there’s something in this range for every gardener.

There are 8 vegetable collections and 8 flower collections, each pack contains 6 specially chosen varieties. For instance, Flowers for Drought-Resistance were selected to thrive in dry and hot conditions, where Vegetables for Heirloom crops have reputation for being reliable and rewarding for generations.

RHS Mr Fothergill's Flowers for Drought-Resistance Seed CollectionRHS Mr Fothergill's Vegetables for Heirloom Crops Seed Collection

Ian Cross, retail marketing manager at Mr Fothergill’s, said: “We are delighted to be able to offer this new range of collections. Working with the team at the RHS we have created 16 inspiring themes to appeal to all gardening tastes’.

Examples include ‘Vegetable Superfoods’, ‘Vegetables for a Vertical Garden’ and ‘Flowers for Hanging Baskets’.

Each collection packet has a RRP of £4.99. Visit your local garden centre, head over to www.mr-forthergills.co.uk to shop or request your copy of the Mr Fothergill’s latest seed catalogue.

Mr Fothergill’s introduces new Cucumber Swing F1 for the Year of the Cucumber

September 2nd, 2019 | News | 0 Comments

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) is a great cucumber with all female flowers for outdoor or greenhouse growing.  Fruits are 20cm long, have dark green shiny skin with a juicy flesh. Slightly spined, resistant to powdery mildew and grows well in unfavourable weather conditions.

An exciting dwarf Dill Nano (RRP £2.15 for 200 seeds) is a perfect candidate for gardens with limited space, but also great for kitchen windowsills so it is reachable when cooking. It produces compact plants with deliciously aromatic leaves. Surplus can be dried or frozen.

Mr Fothergill's supporting Fleuroselect's Year of the Cucumber with Cucumber Swing F1Dill Nano, new to the Mr Fothergill's 2020 range

For the brave only, scorching hot Pepper (Hot) Devil’s Brew (RRP £2.55 for 30 seeds). It is a bushy variety producing a traffic-light mix of yellow, green and red peppers. A standard cayenne-type chilli, thin, pointed fruits about 8cm long and only 9mm wide. They start green and ripen to a beautiful eye-catching shade of red Damian, orange Kilian and yellow Kristian. Very good for Asian style cooking.

New and exclusive to Mr Fothergill’s, Viola Network Improved (RRP £2.40 for 125 seeds) has striking yellow flowers marked with a bold network of fine lines which gives a truly unique effect.  These robust plants are great additions for an eye-catching front of borders and patio containers.

New to the Mr Fothergill's range, Pepper (Hot) Devils BrewViola Network Improved, new to the Mr Fothergill's 2020 range

Vibrant, deep purple flower heads of Candytuft Purple Rain (RRP £1.45 for 300 seeds) generously cover compact plants with bright green foliage. Bushy, dwarf plants, with mounded habit are an ideal choice for low borders, rock gardens, containers and mass plantings. This groundcover bloomer can grow in poor, sandy or dry soils and stands against heat, humidity and drought.

Other new varieties include Calendula Playtime Mixed (RRP £2.40 for 75 seeds), Dianthus Hollandia Mix (RRP £2.15 for 100 seeds), Nasturtium Bloody Mary (RRP £2.40 for 25 seeds), Nicotiana Starlight Dancer (RRP £2.40 for 100 seeds), Zinnia Choice Mixed (RRP £2.40 for 75 seeds) and Lambs Lettuce Vision (RRP £2.15 for 500 seeds).

September Gardening Advice

September 2nd, 2019 | News | 0 Comments

Mr Fothergill's September Gardening Advice

There’s no doubt about it, September is summer’s swan song. Despite the pleasant temperatures, the days are getting shorter, bringing with them cooler, longer nights.

From rich, burnt oranges to fiery reds, September’s flowerbeds are full of vibrant blooms. Whilst on allotments, gardeners are enjoying bountiful harvests of beans, carrots and potatoes. And if you look beyond the foliage, Halloween pumpkins are making their growing presence felt, ready to take their turn in the spotlight.

So, whilst the sun is here, take the time to get outside and enjoy it. Because in a month’s time, as you dig out those heavy jumpers, the warm embrace of summer will be but a distant memory.

In the Flower Garden

Perennials

If perennials are past their best, dig them up, divide and re-plant. Not only are you invigorating the clump, but you’ll get more flowers next season. Ensure these plants are watered-in and mulched. For plants, such as dahlias, continue to deadhead and tie-in.

A close up focusing on some white and light pink fuschia flowers with green leavesAnother way to increase plant stock is to take cuttings. Tender perennials, such as penstemons, salvias and fuchsias are ideal for this. Once potted up, they’ll quickly establish a healthy root system. Ensure they’re placed in a sunny, frost-free protected area. Overwatering, or keeping them somewhere damp may lead to dampening off, so check on your cuttings regularly.

Of course, you can buy new perennials and plant them. As the ground’s still warm, they’ll have time to establish themselves before temperatures drop. Then, with the arrival of spring, they’ll emerge healthy and ready to grow.

Borders

Although summer is still hanging on, it’s time to look ahead to next spring. Give your borders a refresh and clear away fading summer bedding. If you’re not planting autumn flowers, such as chrysanthemums, clear weeds, add compost, and think about what to plant for the following spring. Biennial varieties such as wallflowers, foxgloves, as well as polyanthus, pansies and sweet williams can be planted.

Bulbs

Although it’s still too early to plant tulip and allium bulbs, amaryllis and hyacinth bulbs can be planted. By forcing their growth, you could be enjoying their colourful, scented blooms throughout the festive season.

If you’re thinking ahead to spring, daffodil, crocuses, bluebells and lily bulbs can be planted. Plant them straight into the ground, at a depth of three times their height, or pot them up in containers.

Hanging baskets

To keep your hanging baskets looking at their best for as long as possible, ensure you feed and water regularly. Deadheading is also essential. But there will come a time when plants will have given their all, so think about what to replace. Whether it’s polyanthus or pansies, bring colour to your autumn, by freshening the soil and re-potting your hanging baskets.

Pots

Two homemade 'pot feet' in the shapes of bears holding up a terracotta plant pot, raising it off the ground to help it drain waterIf you have pots that sit outside, it’s time to raise them off the ground. Using bricks or ‘pot feet’ protects your plants by keeping them off the ground to allow the rain to drain off easily. This will also help prevent winter frosts from cracking your pots.

You may want to plant up your pots for the autumn season. Consider heather, cyclemen and trailing ivy. Place them where they can be seen, as you’ll want to see as much life as possible in your garden over the wintry months.

Greenhouse

With greenhouse plants spent, now’s the time to give it a thorough clean. This also applies to your permanent cold frames. Dispose of old plants, and remove all pots and containers as they can be protecting pests. Ensure all glass is cleaned with warm soapy water. Also, clean the greenhouse floor, as potential pests and diseases could still be lurking. If you’re planning to grow anything in the next few months, then your greenhouse will need as much light and warmth as possible. Pack away any shading you put up during the summer months. Carry out any maintenance needed, clean leaves from guttering (including downpipes and water butts), and test greenhouse heaters.

Sowing

Seeds such as sweet peas, centaurea and poppies can now be sown into trays or modules. Don’t let them dry-out, and as temperatures start to drop, ensure preparations are made to see them through the colder months.

Lawn

After a dry summer, and constant use, lawns will now need your attention. Over the coming weeks, grass slows its growth, so you’ll be mowing less frequently. Re-lay any bare patches with new turf, or re-sow seeds directly into the soil. Scarify, aerate and apply a dressing to the lawn. Keep edging in check, and remove any fallen foliage, as this can encourage thatching.

On the Veg Patch

Harvest

A close up of two pumkpins ready to be harvested on an allotment patchSquashes and pumpkins will be plumping and colouring. Once their vines are cracked and withered, you can harvest them. Leave them somewhere dry and bright for a few days so their skins can harden off. Stored correctly, these could last well into next spring.

Lift any remaining onions now before the weather turns for the worse. Once lifted, shake off any loose soil and leave them to dry for a week or two. Either somewhere dry and bright outside, or in a greenhouse. These then can be hung and stored to use when you’re ready.

Fruit

Apples and pears are ready to be picked. If you’re planning to store them, ensure none are spoilt and place apart on dry sand in a paper-lined box.  Store them somewhere, dark and cool, and check every so often to make sure none have spoilt.

Autumn raspberries, on the other-hand, will keep producing right up until the first frost, but the key is to keep picking.

If you’re hoping to grow more strawberries next year, then now’s the time to plant. Whether they’re newly bought plants, or runners from your own plants, get them in the ground. With the ground still warm, and the temperatures mild, this will give them enough time to get established.

Winter vegetables

This month consider planting over-wintering onion sets. Spinach, pak choi and radishes can be directly sown into the ground. Keep a cloche close, as night temperatures will be on the decline.

Tomatoes

By now, your tomato plants will have done their job. With all tomatoes picked, remove and dispose of the spent plants. Place any remaining green tomatoes in a paper-lined shoebox with a ripened banana, and keep somewhere warm. Check regularly, and once reddened, remove. Failing that, green tomatoes make excellent chutney.

Once you’ve cleaned your greenhouse, consider sowing a crop of hardy lettuce or spinach for the colder months.

Green manure growing in a bedGreen manure

If you’re not planning to grow anything over winter, then consider growing green manure in your empty beds. Not only will this help suppress weeds, it can help break up heavy soil. Come March, cut it up and dig into the soil, as this will provide many of the soil’s required nutrients.

Pests

Keep vigilant this month, your harvest-ready vegetables and ripening fruit will be a calling card for various pests. One culprit is the wasp. It won’t take him long to damage and spoil your crop. Hang wasp traps in your trees and bushes.

However, as wasps are also beneficial for your garden (they eat aphids, caterpillars and other pests as well as being good pollinators), you may want to consider a more humane way to deter them. One option is to cover your crops with fine netting or mesh.

Other jobs

Bring in any indoor plants you rested outside over the summer months.

Net ponds to prevent autumn leaves and debris clogging them up.

Reduce the frequency of watering your houseplants.

If you haven’t done so already, order your allium and tulip bulbs for next spring.

While flowers such as dahlias are still blooming, take cut flowers for the home.

Growing Salad Onions from Sowing to Harvest

August 29th, 2019 | News | 0 Comments

Growing Salad Onions from Sowing to Harvest

They’re fresh, fast and fabulous in salads, stir-fries, quiches and savoury tarts. We’re talking about salad onions, also known as scallions, spring onions or green onions. Whatever you call them, they’re great for fitting in wherever there’s space and will give you a harvest of peppery stems in as little as eight weeks.

Salad onions are also one of those crops that can be sown in late summer to give one of the earliest harvests next spring. So let’s get on and grow some! Read on or watch the video to find out how.

Where to Grow Salad Onions

Like their bulb-forming cousins, salad onions prefer a sunny, open site and fertile, well-drained soil. For best results, grow them in soil that’s been improved with regular additions of well-rotted organic matter such as compost.

A close up of spring onions growing in a container on a windowsillThese tall, thin plants don’t take up much space, so they’re ideal for containers, or be opportunistic and grow them between rows of slower growing vegetables such as parsnips until they need the extra space. Another option is to grow them with carrots, where they may help to reduce problems with carrot fly.

When to Sow Salad Onions

Start sowing under cover from late winter, then continue outside from spring. Sow short rows every three to four weeks to give a steady supply of stems. Your last sowings, made at the very end of summer using a winter hardy variety, will be ready to harvest early next season.

How to Sow Salad Onions

Sow seeds directly where they are to grow or into containers of potting soil to transplant later on.

Direct sow seeds into finely-raked soil. Mark out a drill about half an inch (1cm) deep. Use a string line if you prefer neat, straight rows. Additional rows should be spaced about 4in (10cm) apart. If it’s hot and dry, water along the rows before sowing. This creates a cooler environment around the seeds, helping them to germinate.

Sow the seeds thinly along the rows then pinch the drill closed to cover the seeds. Alternatively, backfill the rows with potting soil. This is useful if your soil isn’t as fine and crumbly as you’d like at sowing time, and also helps rows to stand out clearly from the surrounding soil for the purposes of weeding. Once you’re done, label the rows and water thoroughly.

Sowing into containers helps to make the best use of your available space because you can start seedlings off while the ground is still occupied by a growing crop. By starting plants off under the protection of a greenhouse, tunnel or cold frame you’ll be able to start sowing up to six weeks sooner at the beginning of the growing season.

The easiest method is to use plug trays. Fill your plug trays with a general-purpose potting mix then firm the mix down into the modules with your fingertips. Sow a pinch of four to eight seeds per module then cover them with more potting mix. Water and keep the potting soil moist as the seedlings appear and grow on.

Planting Salad Onions

Transplant the clusters of seedlings as soon as they have filled their modules and you can see roots at the drainage holes. Carefully ease the plugs from the tray then plant them into prepared soil so each cluster is 2-4in (5-10cm) apart within the row, with rows spaced at least 4in (10cm) apart. Water the young plants to settle the soil around the rootball.

Caring for Salad Onions

A bunch of spring onions laid down on a wooden ledge, freshly harvested from an allotmentDirect sown salad onions shouldn’t need much thinning but if there are any overly thick clusters of seedlings, remove some of the excess to leave about half an inch (1cm) between plants.

Remove weeds as they appear to prevent them from overwhelming your plants. Salad onions are shallow-rooting, so water in dry weather to speed growth and minimise the risk of plants bolting, or flowering prematurely.

Salad onions are rarely bothered by pests but birds can sometimes peck at the emerging seedlings, particularly early on in the season. Cover sown areas and seedlings with row covers if this proves to be a problem.

How to Harvest Salad Onions

Salad onions are typically ready to enjoy 10 to 12 weeks after sowing, though at the height of the growing season it can be as soon as 8 weeks. Harvest the largest plants first so that those left can continue to grow. This way you can extend and maximise your harvest.

Store your salad onions in the refrigerator or slice them up to pack into freezer bags or containers to add to recipes whenever you need a boost of fresh flavour.

Salad onions are reliable, versatile and downright delicious – we wouldn’t be without them, that’s for sure! What about you? Comment below or head over to our Facebook and Twitter page.

Worm Composting: How to Make a Wormery

August 28th, 2019 | News | 1 Comment

Worm Composting: How to Make a Wormery

Wonderful, wondrous wiggling worms – they’re just magnificent, and the starting point to healthy soil and awesome compost. A healthy compost heap is full of them, but there is another way to turn kitchen scraps and weeds into nutrient-dense goodness: by using a wormery.

Intrigued? Then read on or watch the video. We’ll show you why worm composting rocks, as well as how to make a budget-friendly wormery of your own.

What is a Wormery?

Wormeries, or worm composters, use special composting worms to turn kitchen waste into nutrient-dense compost and liquid fertiliser. They don’t smell, take up very little space, and are a great way to introduce children to the wonders of worms. Use one as a standalone composting solution for courtyard or balcony gardens, or as a complement to a traditional compost heap or bin.

How a Wormery Works

A wormery is typically made up of at least two compartments. The bottom compartment collects the liquid, which can be drained off to use as liquid feed for your plants. The top compartment is where the worms live and where you’ll put your kitchen scraps to feed them. This is also where your compost, or worm castings, will be made. A close up of a worm amongst compost and kitchen scraps in a homemade wormeryA lid keeps everything from drying out or becoming flooded by rain showers.

Two compartments will work, but using a third compartment makes it easier to collect the worm compost.

Holes in the bottom of both the middle and top trays ensure that the liquid produced by the worms can percolate down into the collection tray at the bottom. Once a tray is full, the holes enable worms to migrate up into a new tray, so that compost from the vacated tray can then be harvested.

Making a Wormery

Choose trays or boxes to make your wormery with. We’re using plastic boxes about 16 x 20 inches (40 x 50 cm) and fairly shallow at just 8 inches (20cm) deep. You’ll also need a simple plastic faucet or water barrel tap, a drill and drill bits, and a lid for the top tray.

You’ll also need some worms of course, bur don’t be tempted to use earthworms from the garden – they’re great for tunnelling and improving your soil, but not so quick at composting. You can order composting worms online. We’re using a lively mix of European nightcrawlers and tigerworms capable of eating twice their bodyweight a day!

So, let’s assemble the wormery! First, the bottom tray:

  • Carefully cut out or drill a hole to snugly fit the thread of the faucet. Fit it as low as possible in the tray so that liquid isn’t left at the bottom when you drain it off. Screw it tightly into position then secure with the back nut. You can raise the wormery up on bricks to make it easier to drain off the liquid into a container.

Then, the top trays:

  • Drill 1/4 inch (1/2 cm) holes approximately every 2 inches (5cm), right across the bottom of your top tray(s).
  • Drill a single row of holes near the top of the top tray(s) at the same size and spacing. These holes will help to improve airflow, creating a healthier environment for your worms.

Now’s the fun part – time to add your worms!A close up of brandling or compost worms in soil

  • Start with a 3 inch (8cm) layer of bedding material. You can use good quality compost or coir fibre, dampened a little to make it nice and comfortable for your worms. They’ll soon bury themselves into that lovely bedding and get settled in.
  • Once you’ve added your worms, add a layer of kitchen scraps – no more than a couple of inches (5cm) to start with as you don’t want to overwhelm them.
  • Finally, you can also add a layer of burlap or hessian to keep them extra snug.
  • Wait a week before adding any more food to give the worms time to settle into their new home.

Siting the Wormery

Worms like moist, warm conditions, so keep your wormery somewhere shady and as close to room temperature as you can. They don’t like to be frozen, so move the wormery indoors for winter – into a garage, outbuilding or utility room is ideal.

Feeding the Worms

Add food a little at a time to the top of the compost. Avoid adding too much food at any one time, as this risks creating an odour that will attract flies.

The worms will digest any vegetable kitchen scraps, including coffee grounds, that you’d normally add to compost, but avoid meat or animal products such as cheese The inside of a homemade wormery full of kitchen scrapswhich can attract flies. Go easy on citrus peel and alliums like onion and garlic too, as large amounts will make conditions too acidic for your worms. You can also add small amounts of weeds and leaves, as well as shredded, non-glossy newspaper or torn-up cardboard.

Once the top tray’s full, swap it round with the empty middle tray and start filling that instead. The worms will migrate up through the holes to where the food is, leaving the full tray empty of worms and ready for collection. Repeat this process each time the active tray becomes full up.

Using Worm Compost and Worm Wee

The worm compost, or castings, make a great all-purpose soil conditioner, or add them to your own potting mixes to give them a nutritional boost.

Drain the liquid off from the bottom tray whenever it collects. This nutritional liquid, often known as worm tea or worm wee, is a super elixir for your plants. Stir one part of the liquid into ten parts water before using.

And there you have it – a superb, home-made wormery that will keep you in wonderful worm castings and lovely liquid. If you already have a wormery, tell us about it! What do you do with all that goodness and how have your worms benefitted your gardening? Comment below or head over to our Facebook and Twitter page.