Archive for the ‘The flower garden’ 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.

The Big Bug Hunt: How to Prevent Common Garden Pests Damaging Your Crops [video]

June 27th, 2017 | The flower garden, The vegetable garden | 0 Comments

Prevent Common Garden PestsPests are an inevitable garden presence, they’re frustrating but it’s important to not get too irritated. It’s just another gardening challenge to overcome. This post looks into how to prevent common garden pests.

  • Slugs and snails are the bane of many gardens, they demolish leaves.
  • Prevent them by putting up barriers. Copper rings around the base of plants will deter them from nibbling at leaves by giving them a small electric shock.
  • Eggshells are also a great way to prevent slugs and snails from attacking your leaves.
  • Beer traps are another effective method, slugs will be attracted to the yeasty scent and will drown attempting to get to the scent.
  • Installing a pond in your garden can attract frogs; they are great at eating pests in the garden and steering them clear of your plants.
  • Cabbage white butterflies (cabbage worms) carry an appetite for the cabbage family.
  • Stop them laying eggs by laying butterfly netting over your plants. This can be draped over a simple wooden frame. Ensure it’s well secured.
  • Planting decoy plants at the end of a row can protect your important plants from the cabbage butterflies.
  • Aphids can attack your vegetables.
  • Spray colonies of aphids with soapy water, this offers some control.
  • Many bugs feast on these like ladybugs and hover flies. You’ll need to attract beneficial bugs, which can be done with particular plants and bug hotels.

These are just a few tips and tricks that you can put into practice, keeping your garden pest free. The video below discusses further advice and introduces the Big Bug Hunt. Find out more on the Big Bug Hunt site. If you have any pest prevention techniques you would like to share, please let us know in the comments below. 

The Big Bug Hunt: How to Prevent Common Garden Pests Damaging Your Crops

Dealing With Aphids: Pest Control Tips & How To Protect Your Plants [video]

June 13th, 2017 | The flower garden, The vegetable garden | 0 Comments

Dealing With Aphids: Pest Control Tips & How To Protect Your Plants Aphids are one of the most common garden pests, infesting and weakening our crops while spreading plant diseases. We are here to offer you a few tips & tricks on how to protect your plants from these pests!

  1. Squash & remove – start by checking plants regularly for any signs of aphids. As soon as you spot any, squash them by hand. Clusters of locally concentrated aphids, for example at the tips of shoots – may be nipped off in their entirety and destroyed. Pinch out the tips of fava (or broad) beans once the first pods appear to make the plants less attractive to black bean aphids.
  2. Blast them off – try blasting small infestations of aphids off your plants with a jet of water from a hose pipe. Adjust the nozzle or cover the end of the pipe with your finger to force the water out at higher pressure. The aphids will be knocked off and fall to the ground and will be unlikely to return to the plant.
  3. Spray soapy water – add a couple of drops of dish soap to a spray bottle, top up with water and shake to dissolve. Spray the solution liberally over the plants, remembering to reach all parts of the plant, including the undersides of the leaves. The soapy water traps and suffocates the aphids.
  4. Cover vulnerable vegetables – winged aphids can quickly spread plant diseases such as cucumber mosaic virus. To avoid this, cover susceptible plants with row covers of fleece in midsummer when the risk of disease is highest. Vulnerable plants include cucumber, spinach and celery, so prioritise covers for these vegetables.
  5. Attract aphid predators – where you find aphids, you’ll also find aphid predators. Ladybugs, especially their larvae, have a voracious appetite for these soft-bodied insects. Hoverfly larvae also much their way through aphids. As do lacewings and many types of tiny parasitic wasp. You can attract these beneficial insects to your garden by planting a range of flowering plants. Plants with simple single flowers are best, including the poached eggplant, marigolds, calendula, alyssum, buckwheat and echinacea. Flowering herbs are also a magnet for predators, including dill, fennel, parsley, thyme and mint. Grow these plants next to your vegetables so that beneficial bugs come to feed and hopefully bring their appetite for aphids with them!

Hopefully these tips will help you to combat any aphid struggles you’ve had in your garden. If you have any of your own then please let us know in the comments below or on our social media. The video below gives further information on aphids and how to fight back without using pesticides.

GrowVeg – Dealing With Aphids: Pest Control Tips & How To Protect Your Plants

6 Ingenious Ways to Reuse Your Plant Pots [video]

June 13th, 2017 | The flower garden, The vegetable garden | 0 Comments

Salad - Reuse your Plant PotsAnyone who is into gardening will likely have a lot of little plastic pots stacked in their shed!  Plastic pots are perfect for reusing, and here are six ideas on how you can reuse your plant pots in ingenious ways. 

  • Tomato plants are always thirsty and when you plant tomatoes into the open ground, the water seems to just disappear. You can use plastic pots to make a water reservoir halo to help you concentrate the water towards the roots of the plant.  Simply cut off the bottom of the pot with a sharp knife or scissors, then push the pot  half way into the soil.   Plant the tomatoes into the bottom. Now when you water your tomatoes, the pot will help contain the water, ensuring it gradually soaks into the plant.
  • Use an empty plant pot to help transfer a plant into a larger container.  Before adding potting compost to your new container, place an empty pot that is the same size as the old plant pot into the middle of the new larger container. Then add compost into the gaps surrounding the plastic pot. Remove the pot, leaving a ready made hole for you to place your plant straight into its new home.
  • Plastic pots can also be used to created bug hotels. Fill the plastic pots with a variety of materials like bamboo, corrugated cardboard, hollow stems and twigs. then place this in a sheltered position for bugs to find.
  • Garden twine is always useful in the garden, but it can get tangled and make using it a nightmare. Plastic pots can come in handy here. Put the twine into a pot and feed the end through one of the drainage holes. Use Duck Tape on the open end of the pot to keep the twine enclosed.  You now have a handy twine dispenser for easy use in the garden!
  • Scrub your old pots clean and use them as the perfect opportunity to get creative. You can paint, cover and create designs on your old plant pots to brighten up the garden.
  • Larger plastic pots can be used to help with harvesting your vegetables.  Place your harvested vegetables into a pot, then blast them with a jet of water to wash them.  The water will then drain through the holes at the bottom leaving you with clean veg!

If you have any other inventive ways of using pots in your garden, then let us know about it in the comments below. 

6 Ingenious Ways to Reuse Your Plant Pots

6 Ingenious Ways to Reuse Your Plant Pots

What To Do In The Garden In June

June 1st, 2017 | The flower garden, The vegetable garden | 0 Comments

June Gardening - Hanging BasketsJune is open season in the garden, pretty much anything goes this month. Summer baskets and patio containers can be safely put on show, and beds and borders can be filled with your favourite summer flowers. All plants raised indoors or under glass through spring can now be planted out. Harvesting of your earliest vegetable sowings will begin in earnest and further sowing can be made outside.  With space becoming available in greenhouses and on windowsills you can start to plan sowings of biennials and perennials for next year’s displays,  and winter bedding can be sown ready for planting out in autumn.
Watering, weeding and feeding become essential jobs this month, and if you grow fruit and vegetables you’ll need to start thinking about protecting your crops from hungry birds.  Rolls of netting, fruit cages and net tunnel cloches will need to be called on.

We have a wide range of tips and advice to keep you more than busy through June, but don’t forget to take the time to sit back and enjoy the rewards of all your hard labours of spring as summer sets the garden underway.

Night Phlox Midnight Candy - June GardeningIn the flower garden

Still time to sow fast annuals
Running behind on the sowing season? There is still time to sow fast flowering hardy annuals in pots or borders for colour in as little as 6-8 weeks. If it’s fast colour you are after, sow the following in the next week or so: nasturtiums, night phlox, calendula, poached egg plant, swan river daisy, Californian poppy

Sowing perennials
A mix of hardy herbaceous perennials is an essential element in any successful border planting, adding seasonal shape, colour and interest for many years with minimal upkeep.

Costly as container-grown plants, perennials are no more difficult to start from seed than the more commonly sown hardy annuals. So for the relatively low cost of a few packets of seed you can plant up large areas with perennial permanence. You will also find varieties in our perennial seed range that are rarely, if ever, available to buy as mature plants. If you are looking for an extra special perennial for your garden borders and patio containers you really have to start with seed.

By sowing perennial flower seed in June, plants have time to put on good foliage and root growth before resting over winter. This gives them the reserves to grow strongly the following spring and offer good floral colour through the first summer and many more to come.

With so many to choose from, here is our top 10 perennial picks to give you a taste:

Carnation Picotee Fantasy Mix striking blend of scented stripes and picotees
Hardy Geranium Splish Splash – Masses of large striped blooms
Scabious Border Mixed Seeds – attracts bees and butterflies
Veronica Rose Tones – Good for borders and cutting
Echinacea PowWow Wild Berry – essential late season colour
Aubrietia Cascade Mixed – beautiful spring flower cushions
Delphinium Pacific Giants Mixed – tall elegant spires
Lupin Russell Mixed – Impressive early summer colour
Meconopsis alba – spectacular white flowered form of Himalayan poppy
Iceland poppy superb in cottage gardens

All Mr Fothergill’s seeds come with sowing and growing instructions, but for more detail read our handy sowing guide here

Interestingly, many of the shorter lived perennials are better treated as biennials, looking best in their second year and losing their lustre in their third and fourth years. Aquilegia, hollyhocks, lupins, sweet williams and many other popular perennials can be raised this way for better garden displays. We will look at biennials more closely next month.

Antirrhinum Candelabra™ Mixed F1 Plants - June GardeningTop tips for heavenly hanging baskets

Nothing shouts summer like a stunning hanging basket displays. Get the best from your baskets this summer with our simple tips for success:

  • Always use the largest basket and best quality compost that fits your budget
  • Mix water retaining gel with compost to get plants through the heat of the day
  • Mix slow release fertiliser with the compost or offer regular liquid feeds
  • A good planting rule for baskets with side planting is 1 plant per diameter inch, so for a 12in basket use 12 plants.
  • Halve this for baskets with no side planting capacity (6 plants to a 12in basket)
  • Add upright plants in the centre and trailing plants around the side.
  • Add one or two foliage plants for extra interest and texture
  • Remove the first flowers after planting up. Plants will concentrate on rooting and branching for a short period, and better flowering will occur as a result
  • Water regularly – at least once a day during peak of summer, and best done early morning or late evening
  • While watering, remove any spent flowers to prevent seeding and encourage a succession of blooms right through summer.
  • Add a basket tomato plant to your displays for an extra treat through summer.
  • Baskets can be heavy – do not water them until they are hung safely in place.

Gardening Weeding - JuneOther jobs for June:
Weed Control
Keep borders weed free with regular  hoeing of any open soil, and inspect closely around the base of ornamental plants – weeds have an annoying habit of quietly establishing right in the crown of prized border plants, making their removal difficult if deep roots are allowed to develop.
Planting out
Early June onwards is the time to plant for seasonal summer displays. All frost tender plants raised under glass through spring can now be put on show. To get the best from your summer borders see our handy planting guide here.
Slug and snail patrol
We’ve all fallen foul of slugs and snails in the garden. They hit indiscriminately, both in the border and the vegetable patch – even patio pot plants aren’t safe! Keep slugs from your prized plants this summer with one or more of the following:
Slug Pellets: Try to avoid chemical versions; bird-safe organic pellets are available and just as effective.

Material barrier: Get rid of slugs without killing them with Slug Gone. These wool pellets are placed around plants to fluff up and create a barrier or irritating fibres that the slugs won’t pass over.

Beer traps: Slugs dip in for a drink and can’t get back out again. Effective but a horrible mess to pour away!

‘Citrus shells’: Place your finished breakfast grapefruit or half a scooped out orange upside down in the border – slugs will gather below it and you can destroy them as you see fit.

Copper tape: Place copper tape around patio pots to create a barrier that slugs don’t like to pass over (they can still get through drainage holes though!).

Porridge oats: Place a dish of oats outside for the slugs to eat. It will expand once eaten, killing off the slugs.
Natural nematodes: Nemyslug is a natural biological control employing microscopic nematodes to do the nasty work for you. It is simply mixed into watering can and applied to soils every six weeks.

Veg patch - June GardeningOn the veg patch

Plant out half hardy and tender vegetable plants
Half hardy and frost tender vegetables raised under glass through spring can be planted out in earnest this month. It pays to acclimatise them first – frosts may be gone, but cold winds can still do damage. Place plants outside by day and move back under cover each evening for a few days before planting in the final positions.
Make a second tender sowing
Having planted out you can make another sowing for a second, later harvest.
Courgettes, squash, French beans, runner beans, sweet corn and tender herbs can all be direct sown this month.
Tips for tender veg:

  • Don’t plant too many courgettes – 2 or 3 plants should be plenty for an average household
  • Plant sweet corn in blocks rather than rows to improve pollination and cob setting
  • Plant dwarf beans in blocks rather than rows so the plants help support each other.
  • Give pumpkins and squashes plenty of room for their vine-like ground growth. For the largest pumpkins and squashes, pinch out all new flowers after 3 or 4 fruits have set.
  • Make sure to give peppers, tomatoes, chillies, aubergines, cucumbers and melons the sunniest spot when growing them outside, ideally sheltered from cold winds.

Other vegetables to sow outdoors this month:
Beetroot, carrots, broccoli, kale, peas, and salad leaves, spring onions,  swede, Swiss chard, turnips, winter cabbage, radish, endives, lettuce, Oriental leaves, radish, spinach.
For the longest harvest window and freshest crops from your summer vegetables, divide the remaining growing space to allow furthers sowings every two weeks through to mid-July. This should keep you picking into October- and possibly right through winter with hardy types.

In the greenhouse
Greenhouse crops should be in their final positions now.
In the Mr Fothergill’s polytunnel we grow our tomatoes cucumbers and melons in 10 litre bucket pots, but good results can also be had in growing bags.
We grow all our peppers and chillies in small 3 litre pots and then set these into growing bags, three per bag. The plants soon root through the pots into the bags which act as a feed and water reservoir. We have had our best ever results since adopting this method, and we urge you to give it a try.

Try something different: Three sisters planting
Take a tip from the Native Americans who grew sweet corn, pumpkins and climbing beans together in a symbiotic relationship, known as three sisters planting. A pumpkin is planted in the centre, surrounded by a block of sweet corn and a bean plant is added next to each sweet corn. Each vegetable draws on a different key nutrient to maintain growth, avoiding any major competition, and each helps the other in different ways:

  • Pumpkins (or squashes if you prefer) shade the soil and retain moisture with their large leaves
  • Sweet corn provides a climbing support for the beans
  • Beans fix nitrogen in the soil helping support the other two crops