Vertical Garden: Make a Teepee for Your Climbing Beans

June 5th, 2018 | News | 0 Comments


Warmer soil means it is now time to plant beans in many areas. Climbing beans are quick growing and produce many pods over many weeks for regular picking making them very rewarding to grow. For an alternative to the traditional growing style, why not try a bean teepee?

Basket of mixed climbing beans.


Bean Teepees offer a quick convenient way to offer support for climbing or pole beans.

Unlike traditional ridge supported beans, the rounded profile of a tepee means it’s less likely to catch the wind, making it a wise choice for more exposed locations.

You can use almost anything to make your bean tepee; light-weight aluminium or PVC pipes are super durable, while hazel poles offer a natural sustainable option. Bamboo canes are most commonly used for this type of support.


Prepare the Ground

Proper soil preparation is essential for strong plants and great harvest. Peas and beans naturally fix nitrogen at their roots, but that doesn’t mean they don’t appreciate a rich fertile soil.

It is good to plant your beans in a spot that gets at least 5 hours of direct sunshine a day.


Build your Bean Teepee

The diameter and height of you teepee is up to you, a wide and tall structure can provide enough room within the tepee to serve as a green hiding hole for children.

Aim for a width of at least 3 ft/1 m and set the poles or canes at least 1 ft /30cm apart.

Once the height of your canes selected, push them 6inches/15cm into the ground to anchor them firmly into place. You don’t want your tepee to blow over!

A good way to get an even circle is to use a garbage can lid or a similar object as a guide.

Once the canes are in, tie a piece of string on one of the canes at the top. Then flex the next cane in towards it and tie it into place. Continue tying in the canes until they are all secured at the centre.

To help the beans get a grip at the tepee, tie string horizontally across the canes.



Plant the Bean Teepee

You could just sow two bean seeds per cane then thin the weakest of the two seedlings to allow the strongest to grow on. Or plant young plants if you are more impatient. For this, dig a hole, put the plant into position and place the soil firmly around the root bulb.

Encourage young plants upwards, by leaning them against the canes and loosely tying them in. Once they settled, they should find their own way up.

Water your beans after planting and keep the soil moist to encourage steady growth.

Check your tepee every couple of days and pick any pods you find that are big enough. Keep on picking and the beans will keep on coming.



These are just a few tips and ideas to help you create your bean teepee in your garden. If you are planning your own, or would like to share your favourite bean variety with us, comment below or head over to our Facebook and Twitter page.

David Domoney Shares his Knowledge and Enthusiasm for ‘Grow Your Own’ with our Sales Force

June 5th, 2018 | News | 0 Comments

This year, our Sales Conference was visited by Love Your Garden presenter David Domoney who gave an enthusiastic presentation about gardening and shared his experience of garden transformations.


David Domoney joined forces with Mr Fothergill’s to develop David Domoney’s Get Growing seed range for the 2018 season. Aimed at newcomers to grow-your-own, the collection includes 66 of the most popular vegetable varieties and 10 easy to use seed mats and tapes. Packet backs offer simple, jargon-free instructions and a QR code links to further ‘on the spot’ advice from David.

Packet fronts employ easy reference icons designed to sell the simplicity of the products. In store, the stand-alone range is displayed A to Z, and includes smaller pea and bean packets more suited to smaller scale growing and beginner gardeners than traditional pea and bean packaging.

Mr-Fothergills-David-Domoney-Get-Growing-pea    Mr-Fothergills-David-Domoney-Get-Growing-radish

Sales of David Domoney’s Get Growing seed range has exceeded our initial expectations, the collection has beaten the season’s forecast.

Ian Cross, our retail marketing manager says: “We are really pleased with the positive reaction we have had from retailers and their customers. David Domoney’s Get Growing range is the perfect starting point for everyone new to growing vegetables from seed and fits perfectly with David’s passion for encouraging everyone to discover the life-long joy that gardening can provide.”

Among top selling varieties are Cress, Coriander, Carrot Finger and Flat leaved Parsley.

Seed packets have a suggested selling price from £1.35 to £3.49. To find out more about the Mr Fothergill’s range, log on at or telephone 01638 554111.

Still time to sow sunflowers!

June 1st, 2018 | Plant Talk with Graham Rice | 0 Comments

'Teddy Bear' sunflowers

“It’s June, and you’re suggesting I sow sunflowers?” You know what, I’ve even had them flowering well from sowing in July. OK, it was July 2, but still.

But there’s two things to keep in mind. Firstly, don’t put your faith in a June sowing of ‘Titan’, which can reach 3m, or ‘Kong’, which can grow even taller. These need an early sowing. Secondly, give them a good start, keep them growing strongly and never allow them to get dry. And there are also two approaches getting them going.

You can sow them outside, in the border or even in a container, where they’re going to flower. The advantages are that you don’t need any special equipment and they never suffer any root disturbance so grow steadily. The disadvantages are that you may have to plant them between other plants which soon overshadow them and that they feed the slugs.

I favour sowing individual seeds in 7.5cm pots of fresh new compost and keeping them in a cold greenhouse with the tomatoes – full ventilation. Or in a sunny and cosy place outside. Be sure to set mousetraps, I’ve already learned the hard way this season that mouse traps are essential.

When the the roots are emerging from the pot, plant them outside, stake them with a slender cane and water them in well with tomato feed in the water.

Whatever your approach, water them every week with tomato food and watch them grow – and then watch them flower. And the varieties to try? I tried it with ‘Solar Flash’ and ‘Teddy Bear’ but I’d say that ‘Choco Sun’, ‘Little Leo’,‘Santa Lucia’, and perhaps even ‘Garden Statement’ would be worth a try.

Take a look at all the Mr F sunflowers, and choose for yourself.

What’s selling at Chelsea?

May 26th, 2018 | Plant Talk with Graham Rice | 0 Comments

Borage - much in demand at the 2018 Chelsea Flower Show

On the last day of the Chelsea Flower Show, let’s look back through the eyes of David Turner, Mr F’s Product Manager, who’s been on the stand at the show all week: talking to visitors, finding out what they’re interested in and selling seeds. Yesterday afternoon I asked him what visitors have been looking for.

Borage has been asked for a lot,” he told me, “it features on a number of the show gardens and that reminds people what a good plant it is – both useful and attractive. But, apart from coriander, there’s been less demand for herbs than usual.

“Any individual varieties with yellow flowers have sold well as they also feature on a number of show gardens – if only we sold yellow lupins! And we’ve sold out of the simple scarlet field poppy, with the centenary of the armistice coming up poppies are on people’s minds.

Peas and beans always sell well, and that has continued this year in spite of the fact that there’s hardly a pea or bean plant to be seen at the show.

“Our new Optigrow range of primed vegetable seeds has done very well after it won the Chelsea Garden Product of The Year award. Parsnip and parsley, seeds that especially benefit from the treatment, are doing especially well.

“And we’ve recently partnered with the RHS in introducing a range of Award of Garden Merit flower seeds and Award of Garden Merit vegetable seeds and this has also proved popular.”

It’s interesting, isn’t it, that visitors’ enthusiasms are sparked both by what they’ve seen at the Show and what they already have in mind. And after the Show, it’s all available on the Mr F website at

Look and learn

May 25th, 2018 | Plant Talk with Graham Rice | 0 Comments

Chelsea look and learn Dianthus display from Calamazag Plant Nursery

At the Chelsea Flower Show, we’re used to exhibits that simply look wonderful, and the Great Pavilion is full of them… fifty five exhibits winning Gold Medals. But this year there’s a display of pinks that perfectly combines an attractive display of well grown plants with information about them.

So often, all that accompanies the plants is the name. But Cornwall’s Calamazag Plant Nursery, in a simple, colourful and stylish way, tells us something about the history and propagation of these essential, sunloving perennials. And does so without our eyes glazing over – there’s just enough information to take in during a long day at a busy flower show, presented clearly and effectively.

For example: many of us know that the classic garden old Victorian pink ‘Mrs Sinkins’ was raised by the Master of the Slough Workhouse and named for his wife. But did you now that his original idea was to name it ‘Queen Victoria’ – until, shall we say, his wife made her feelings clear!

And did you know that in the 19th century, clove scented varieties were eaten in salads, used to flavour food and drinks, used to decorate cakes and as treatments for heartburn. Soaked in wine, clove scented pinks were also traditionally given to brides after marriage ceremonies.

Many of those old Victorian are still available, along with our wild native Cheddar pink, Dianthus gratianopolitanus. Almost wiped out by people digging up the plants in its native Cheddar Gorge and by scrub smothering the plants, the Cheddar pink increasing again.

It’s great to be able to admire a Chelsea exhibit and learn a little something too.