Archive for the ‘The vegetable garden’ Category

What Happened In May At The Mr Fothergill’s Trial Ground

May 26th, 2017 | News, The flower garden, The vegetable garden | 0 Comments

Hard to believe it’s almost June already, time does seem to fly at this time of the year!  Frosts should be at an end now so there’ll be nothing holding us back from filling the trial field with all the more tender young plants from the polytunnel.

Over the last few weeks we’ve finalised the planting plan and we now have a much clearer idea of what will be going where and how much space we’ll have for each trial which helps with putting together the list of items to include.  It’s still a bit flexible of course as things can change on a day to day basis and the plan will continue to evolve as we get through the next month.

One important job completed over the last week was to put together the tubs and troughs to decorate our stand at the Chelsea Flower Show.  It was great to see them go off.

Trial Ground – Carrots

The first signs of green growth are now appearing everywhere out on the trial field, the carrots and parsnips we sowed in April are well up, helped by the first decent rains we had for weeks – 13.8 mm on one day last week certainly broke the dry spell we had all through April.  The sweet peas too are now showing themselves and we’re checking daily to see if there are any lines that need a re-sow.

Trial Ground – Hardy Annuals

The direct sown annuals were sown a couple of weeks ago, with the ground so dry we had to water for a couple of days prior to the sowing date to give them a good start, but we were saved further watering by the perfectly timed onset of the rains.  Just occasionally it seems that nature is on our side!  The green shoots of many lines are already poking up through the soil and with the warm weather predicted this week we’ll expect them to romp away from now on.

Brian always delays the sowing of some species of hardy annual, the eschscholzias and calendulas in particular, as they are so fast growing that they would be past their best by our big open day in August so they are due to go in over the next couple of weeks.

We’ve now planted out the exhibition onions that were started indoors earlier in the year, they need some of our best land to make sure we see the biggest and best bulbs later in the summer.  They’re sharing a patch with a trial of Alstroemeria plants which we’re reviewing for future introduction.  Some of these plants are already showing buds so we’re looking forward to a great show over the summer.

Plants sown indoors for the half hardy annual and first year flowering trials have now been moved outside onto the mypex covered area.  Brian has kept some fleece on hand just in case we get late frosts, it would be a disaster if we were caught out by a cold snap at this point with over 500 trays of young plants at stake!

Trial Ground – Polytunnel

The polytunnel is now in full production, sunflowers, sweet corn and annual climbing flowers are all happily growing away in the protected conditions ready for planting out later.  With the big temperature rises forecast for the end of this week and over the bank holiday we need to get as much as possible outside in the open or they will start to suffer from the excessive heat.

Next it will be time to plant up the hanging baskets, sow the cucumbers and melons and prepare the sugar snap peas, runner and French beans ready for sowing.  We’ll start off the runners indoors but the French beans and sugar snap peas will be sown directly into the ground outside.  The brassicas sown earlier in the month now need pricking out into separate pots.  Unfortunately, the welcome rain also brings the dreaded weeds – they love these conditions as much as our crops – so it’ll be out with the hoes to keep on top of them, especially around the newly germinated rows of carrots, parsnips and direct sown hardy annuals.

Tomato Cages: How to Make Supports for Healthier Tomato Plants [video]

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

Healthier Tomato PlantsTomatoes are a big favourite in the vegetable garden. They’re fun to grow and delicious to eat. This post advises on how to get healthier tomato plants in your vegetable garden. 

  • Supporting tomatoes is dependent on the tomato variety. 
  • Cordon/Vining/Indeterminate tomatoes grow to head height and beyond. They require tall, sturdy supports.

Cordon tomatoes can be grown against tall canes or stakes, or in a green house twisted around string.  Firmly secure canes into the ground, ensure they will stand up against rough weather and fruit plant weight. Push the support into the ground before planting to avoid damaging the roots. Tie the plants to the cane with string, at regular intervals to keep up with their growth.

  • Bush/Determinate tomatoes grow up to around three feet and therefore require less support.
  • Semi-determinate/intermediate tomatoes are in between.

Tomato cages can be used for both bush and semi-determinate tomato plants . By purpose made ages or making your own with concrete reinforcement mesh. Flex the mesh into a tube to create a tube and place over your tomato plant. The video below goes into further detail on how to create your own tomato cage.

  • Regular pruning of tomatoes can ensure further productivity of tomatoes.
  • Remove all leaves from tomato plants, this will allow extra space for tomatoes to grow. It will also take away significant weight from the plant.
  • Remove side shoots from tomato plants as they can interfere with tomato productivity.

These are just a few pruning and training jobs for your vegetable garden. More detailed advice is available in the video below, so be sure to give it a watch. Let us know any tips you have for healthier tomato plants.

GrowVeg – Tomato Cages: How to Make Supports for Healthier Tomato Plants

How to Grow Fruit & Vegetables in Hanging Baskets [video]

May 16th, 2017 | The flower garden, The vegetable garden | 0 Comments

How to Grow Fruit & Vegetables in Hanging Baskets Hanging baskets provide a great space-saving way to grow many fruits and vegetables, including tomatoes, strawberries and all manner of leafy herbs and salads.

Hanging baskets offer an excellent way to pack more produce into a smaller space. Suspended from rafters, walls or framing the front door they provide ample opportunity to make the very best of the space you have.

You can grow a surprising variety of crops in hanging baskets. Cherry tomatoes & strawberries work really well. Growing salad leaves in this way lifts them up out of the reach of hungry slugs. Chilli peppers, leafy herbs, spinach, dwarf beans, even cucumbers are suitable candidates for basket growing and can make for a highly attractive display.

Don’t forget a basket or two packing with flowering annuals to pull in the pollinators.

How to plant a hanging basket

Hanging baskets can dry out quicker than other containers as they’re often exposed more to the wind and sun.

  • Select a basket that’s at least 14 inches in diameter. This will hold at least a gallon of potting soil, meaning it will be slower to dry out.
  • It will be heavy, so ensure that your hanging basket’s chains and the support you’re hanging it from is strong enough.
  • The wire basket needs a liner. Place the basket onto a bucket to stop it rocking about. You can use an old potting soil bag as your liner – open the bag and cut it to size, pierce holes into the liner for drainage.
  • Use quality multi-purpose potting soil, mixed with a handful of slow-release fertilizer.
  • Fill your basket with the mix, this size basket should then hold 3 plants of your choice.
  • Remove the plants from their pots and tease apart the outside roots, space them out equally and then fill in gaps with potting soil.
  • Thoroughly water your hanging basket and then simply hang it up!

If you’d like to see how to care for your fruit & veg in hanging baskets, take a look at the video below. If you have any tips yourself, then please do let us know in the comments or on our social media. 

How to Harden Off Indoor Sown Plants

May 15th, 2017 | The flower garden, The vegetable garden | 0 Comments

Tomato Plants

Preparing plants for planting outside is an important part of the growth process when plants have been sown indoors so that it is not a shock to the system. So how do you harden off indoor sown plants?

Hardening off involves acclimatising plants that have previously been sown inside.  If this process is not followed through correctly it can destroy the plants that you have so lovingly taken the time to grow and nurture.  The process of hardening off should take a week but may possibly take up to two.  It important to not harden off your plants too soon as it can weaken them, the timings to hardening off can be discovered in the video below.

However there are some top tips offered for the hardening off process:

  • Always grow a few extra plants in case of failure in timing, if you have too many you can pass them on
  • Never rush hardening off, your plants will benefit dramatically from the process
  • You must also harden off shop bought plants, as they will also need to be acclimatised to your garden and may have been grown in glasshouses and polytunnels meaning they are not so hardy as they might look.

These are just a few of the tips offered within this video. If you have any tips for the hardening off process yourself, please do share them and let us know!

Maximize Your Space: Stunning Designs for Small Gardens [video]

May 9th, 2017 | The flower garden, The vegetable garden | 0 Comments

small gardens designMany of us have a garden that’s smaller than we’d like, but there are plenty of clever design techniques you can use to make the most of your space. In this post, we’ll give you some pointers on making the most of your garden. 

  • Use vertical space –  all gardens, even smaller ones, often have lots of vertical space. You can attach planters to walls or fences, or secure mesh or trellising to encourage climbers to reach for the skies.
  • Even walls shaded at the base may still have plenty of sunlight for climbing plants, setting up the perfect combination for many perennial plants of cool moist roots and sunny leaves.
  • Natural climbing or sprawling plants that can be trained to grow upwards include delicious kiwi fruits, grapevines and a whole host of climbing beans, peas, squashes and vining tomatoes. Make sure supports are sturdy enough to hold the plants up – a squash in full fruit can be very heavy.
  • Many fruit trees can be trained into particular shapes to hug walls or fences.
  • Single-stemmed cordons espaliers with their parallel branches or radiating fans look beautiful, whilst making incredibly efficient use of ground space. While most of these fruits will prefer a wall that catches plenty of direct sunlight.
  • Mix plants up – The traditional approach is to set aside a dedicated area for growing vegetables, fruits and herbs. In small gardens, it’s simply not possible.
  • Try growing edible and ornamental plants together – the results can be stunning!
  • There are many benefits to this approach. Planting flowers and vegetables together makes it harder for pests to hone in on a specific crop while an abundance of blooms ensures there are always beneficial insects on hand to pollinate flowering vegetables such as squash.
  • Select edibles with both good looks and taste. Contrast different leaf textures or colours, for example billowing green curly kale with red cabbage or lettuce in green and red.
  • Choose varieties with interesting flowers or unusual but handsome looks such as bulb or Florence fennel or a variety of chard with colourful stems.

These are just a few methods and ideas for making the most of your small garden. For more advice, take a look at the video below. Be sure to let us know if you have any tips on making the most of small gardens!

Maximize Your Space: Stunning Designs for Small Gardens – GrowVeg