Archive for the ‘The vegetable garden’ Category

7 Vegetable Garden Shortcuts: Gardening Tips to Save Time

March 29th, 2017 | The vegetable garden | 0 Comments

Garden ShortcutsGrowing your own fruits and vegetables can be very satisfying but it can take a lot of time – time that not everyone has to spare! You may work long hours, have a busy schedule or a young family that keeps you on your toes. What can you do when time is truly precious? This post is going to take you through 7 vegetable garden shortcuts.

  1. Choose easy crops – although it seems an obvious solution, it’s the first step to a speedy garden. A great example is onions, they can be planted out as partly grown bulbs called sets or as young plants, then simply kept watered and weeded until harvest time.
  2. Buy plug plants  – plug plants are young plants that have been grown in their own potting soil until they’re at the perfect stage for planting out into beds. This saves time because you have no sowing to do and you don’t have to worry about fiddly seedlings.
  3. Group vegetables together – grow vegetables that prefer similar conditions or that are from the same crop family. This makes it easier to tailor specific growing requirements to your crops.
  4. Make an instant bed – a great labour saving solution is using the no-dig approach. You can find the full method for this, in the video below.
  5. Use growing bags – growing bags are great for tomatoes and peppers, they are self-contained sacks of potting soil can be used to grow all manner of shallow-rooted crops.
  6. Lower maintenance containers – containers of all shapes and sizes can provide growing spaces where ground is in short supply or poor condition, but they do require more frequent watering and feeding. Save time by mulching the surface of the potting soil with gravel or shredded bark, which will help to retain valuable moisture.
  7. Low maintenance paths – don’t take up your time weeding or mowing paths between beds. Lay down a thick mat of straw bark chippings or other biodegradable matter. You could even lay down planks of wood!

These are just the basics of gardening shortcuts, if you’d like to find out more information on each of these tips then you can find it in the video below. If you have any of your own, let us know in the comments below or on social.

7 Vegetable Garden Shortcuts: Gardening Tips to Save Time

How to Plan a Bigger, Better Garden

March 28th, 2017 | The vegetable garden | 0 Comments

Garden Planning for a Better GardenPlanning at the start of the growing season is important – you must consider what you’re going to grow, where you are going to grow it and when you’re going to sow or plant it. This post is going to help you plan for your most successful growing season yet!

  • It’s important to get to know your garden – observing where the shade falls, this way you can plant in the appropriate area. Tender crops like tomatoes, peppers and squash will thrive in the sunny area of the garden. Leafy greens, herbs and salads prefer a part-shaded area.
  • Knowing the windy areas of your garden is also handy – climbing beans can get damaged in a windy area of the garden. Corn, on the other hand is preferable in the wind.
  • Keep track of what you plan to grow where, this will make crop rotation a lot simpler. Rotating crops from the same family to a new bed each year reduces the chances for pests and disease to build up in the soil. As a bonus it keeps the soil in great condition!
  • Varying crops place different demands on the soil. Cabbage is a very hungry plant so it’s a good idea to grow it after beans or peas – this will also help to enrich the soil by fixing nitrogen. Once you’ve harvested cabbages the soil will be less rich so you could replant with root crops such as carrots which don’t need high fertility to thrive.
  • Once you’ve chosen what you’d like to grow it will help to know when everything can be sown, planted and harvested – a good garden plan will include key dates of these activities. This plan will ensure that nothing is missed out or forgotten as the season gets busier.
  • Planning your garden means you can buy just the right number of seed containers, seeds, potting soil and plant supports.
  • Proper planning means you can keep your plot as productive as possible, for as long as possible, so as one crops finished, another is waiting in the wings to replace it.

Planning your garden can save you time, money and unnecessary disappointment. We hope these tips have helped you plan your garden! If you have any top tips for garden planning then please let us know in the comments or on our social media.

How to Plan a Bigger, Better Garden – Easy Vegetable Garden Planning

Growing Leeks from Sowing to Harvest

March 27th, 2017 | The vegetable garden | 0 Comments

Growing Leeks

Leek Musselburgh – Hardy, reliable & versatile

Leeks are hardy, often trouble free & offer beautiful long stems from Autumn to Spring – at a time when other harvests are lacking. Now is the time to start sowing them so here are a few top tips on sowing leeks and how to take care of them until harvest. 

  • Leeks are hardy, and in most regions, they will sit through frost and snow, then be lifted as needed. You can prolong the harvest period by selecting different varieties. Early season leeks aren’t as hardy but will be ready to harvest in Autumn, mid/late season leeks will give you smooth stems for winter and spring.
  • Grow leeks in a sunny, open position in well-dug soil that’s had plenty of organic matter added to it.
  • Fungal disease rust can be a problem with leeks, to help combat it ensure that they are planted with plenty of air movement between them and look out for varieties described as rust resistant.
  • Early varieties of leeks can be sown under cover from late winter, others following on from mid Spring.
  • Leeks are usually sown in pots or trays of potting soil, then transplanted into their final position when they are big enough.
  • Sowing is easy – sieve potting soil into pots or trays, gently tamp down the soil. Then sow the seeds very thinly so they fall about an inch apart. You can also sow two seeds per cell in a plug tray. Cover them over with a thin layer of more potting soil. Keep the potting soil moist as the seeds germinate and the seedlings grow on.
  • Early sowings should be placed on a sunny windowsill or into a greenhouse where the warmth will encourage quicker growth.
  • As the seedlings grow, you can separate the seedlings out and pop them into individual pots.
  • When planting young leeks, make sure you’ve acclimatised them to outdoor conditions by leaving them outside for increasingly long periods over the course of 1 or 2 weeks.
  • They’re ready to transplant when they are around 6 – 8 inches. Begin by digging holes in the well-dug soil, they need to be the same height as the leek seedlings. Make one hole for each plant – the holes should be about 6 inches apart, with 1 foot between rows. Carefully remove the leeks from their pots and tease the roots apart, place them into the holes. Water the holes to the brim and leave them to drain. Don’t fill them in with soil.
  • Leeks are often easy to care for – water them in dry weather and keep the soil between the leeks weed free.

This is the beginning of the leek sowing process, the video below continues to discuss how to care for your leeks and how to harvest them when it’s time. If you have any further advice for growing leeks then please do let us know in the comments or on our social media.

You can also find our range of leeks here on the Mr Fothergill’s website.

Growing Leeks from Sowing to Harvest – GrowVeg

Harvest the Power of Micro-climates In Your Garden [video]

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

harvest the power of microclimates

Different gardens have varying micro-climates, it is therefore important to use these to your benefit when gardening. If you get to know the growing conditions in your garden well and adapt your planting to suit accordingly you can dramatically boost your harvests. So here you have it, how to harvest the power of micro-climates in your garden!

  • Any hard surfaces in your garden such as walls or patios will absorb heat throughout the day.  As night falls and the temperature drops the heat is released from these surfaces which can be beneficial to plants that love warmth.  Walls, fences and large rocks can also protect plants from night time cold temperatures by radiating out this stored heat. You can take advantage of this by growing certain plants against these hard surfaces.  A good example would be the growing of vine tomatoes.  They can be grown against a wall facing the midday sun and this radiated heat encourages even ripening.
  • Using clear polythene to cover wall plants can add extra protection, shielding plants from frost at either end of the active growing season.  Anyone familiar with visits to walled garden where peaches are trained against walls will be familiar with the sight of large fleecy coverings to either protect blossom from late frosts, or to protect the plant from the harshest elements of a UK winter.
  • We all recognise a sun trap in our garden is we have one. It is usually where you choose to put your garden bench or patio table and chairs!  Just as humans like to sit in a sun trap, they are also perfect for warmth loving plants, where the perfect climate for some plants to thrive can be had.  When it is warm, remember that plants must be watered more often.  Even heat loving plants don’t want too much of a good thing.
  • Balconies and raised beds offer an area that cannot be reached by ground frosts that often appear in pockets in spring.  Plants grown in these conditions are protected from the worst of the cold which can give gardeners a longer growing season.
  • And though we are talking here of taking advantage of hotter micro-climates in your garden, it’s also important to take advantage of shady areas that can keep particular plants who don’t like the too much heat, nice and cool.

To learn more about a variety of micro-climates that a garden could hold watch the video below to help you get your garden to live up to it’s full potential!

Strawberries: Choose and Grow the Best Tasting Strawberries

March 23rd, 2017 | The vegetable garden | 0 Comments

Strawberry Buddy - Growing Strawberries Homegrown strawberries are indulgent and delicious – they’re always nice and easy to grow! This post will look at the best types of strawberry to grow and the best way to grow them. 

  • If you choose a range of strawberry varieties and you could be picking fresh fruits from late spring – all the way to autumn. Start with early season varieties, followed by mid season and then finally late season strawberries. Alternatively, you can grow everbearing strawberries, these yield fruits in smaller quantities from early summer to autumn.
  • If you’re going to be making jam with your strawberries then it’s best to choose varieties that produce a lot of strawberries in one go.
  • Alpine strawberries are a lower maintenance alternative, they can be left to sprawl between ornamentals and will naturally self-seed. Their fruits are tiny – but offer an intense aromatic taste.
  • Strawberries love rich soil! Be sure to add plenty of organic matter to your compost before planting.
  • Strawberries can grow in impartial shade but will have lower yields. So, sunny positions are preferable.
  • Plant strawberries, so that the base of the crown is at soil level and space them around 18 – 24 inches apart. Allowing plenty of room for weeding, watering and picking.
  • Strawberries grow very well in containers filled with quality potting soil, they can be planted a little closer together but you’ll need to water your plants a little more frequently as they’ll dry out rapidly. Fruit is less likely to be damaged by slugs.
  • For an extra early variety, cover them with cloche or polyethene tunnel from the end of winter. Once the plants come into flower, remove the covers on warm days – this will allow insect pollinators access. This could offer you a crop up to three weeks earlier.
  • Keep plants well watered in dry weather, so that the fruits can swell to a good size. Plants undercover may need more water.
  • Stop mud from splashing onto developing fruits by laying down strawberry mats shortly after planting. Alternatively, use a mulch which will lock in moisture whilst keeping fruits clean. Straw is the traditional choice – hence the name strawberries!!

These are just a few top tips for picking strawberry varieties and growing them. If you’d like to find out more, the video below has more tips and advice. We’d love any ideas you have for growing strawberries – let us know in the comments or on our social media.

If you’d like to see our varieties of strawberries, you can find them here on the Mr Fothergill’s website.

Strawberries: Choose and Grow the Best Tasting Strawberries