Posts Tagged ‘grow your own’

Christmas Gifts for Gardeners From Mr Fothergill’s Seeds

November 7th, 2019 | News | 0 Comments

Christmas is nearing once again! If you are thinking of what to buy for your friends and family, Mr Fothergill’s has got some great growing options for kids and beginners or experienced gardeners. Widely stocked by garden retailers and online, you can choose from a number of innovative gardening gifts from windowsill kits to fun ‘grass head’ kits for youngsters, which make perfect stocking fillers.

For anyone new to gardening, Mr Fothergill’s offers the patented GroBox (RRP £6.99) range of easy-to-grow, pre-sown gardening products. GroBox is a bio-degradable cardboard box containing four varieties of pre-sown vegetable or herb seeds in compost, which is planted, covered and watered in the garden or in a container. The range also includes a children’s flower garden and a children’s vegetable garden.

The GroBox collection - Childrens vegetable garden, Childrens flower garden, Easy herb garden and Easy salad garden

There are four windowsill kits – Herb Garden, Fragrant Garden, Strawberry Garden and Sunflower Garden – each comprising a galvanised metal windowsill container, seeds, compost and instructions. Each has a recommended retail price of £7.95. The Herb Grow Kit (RRP £10.95) has three galvanised pots on a tray, basil, parsley and chive seeds, plus compost discs, while the Grow Your Own Pesto Kit includes basil seed, compost discs, a ceramic pestle, mortar and instructions on how to make the much-loved Italian sauce for pasta. It has a recommended retail price of £6.95.

GroBox windowsill kits - Herb Garden, Fragrant Garden, Strawberry Garden and Sunflower GardenGroBox Grow Your Own Pesto Kit

Eye-catching grow kits in the caricature form of various animals would make ideal stocking-fillers to encourage youngsters to take an interest in growing from seed. The ceramic egg cup-style planters known as Munakuppi (Finnish for ‘egg cup’) Hair Grow Kits have a recommended retail price of just £3.95. Each Munakuppi includes two sachets of seed – basil for short ‘hair’ and ryegrass for long ‘hair’ – plus compost and growing instructions, so anyone can simply sow, water and watch the green ‘hair’ grow. The six hand-crafted animals, including a frog, dog, pig, duck, seal and cow are becoming collectables. Children would also enjoy any of four smiley faces or four adorable cats. These gorgeous kits come with a pot, coir pellet, grass seed and instructions. These ceramic characters can be used again and again.

Munakuppi Hair Grow Kits

For chilli lovers, there are Chilli Pepper Grow Kits available for classic, great tasting, fiery red chillies or juicy medium-hot green chillies, perfect for pizzas. Available as complete kits, with an RRP of just £4.99.

Mr Fothergill’s range of seeds and kits is available from garden centres, supermarkets and leading DIY stores throughout the UK.

Easy to Grow Edible Seeds and Grains

October 23rd, 2019 | News | 0 Comments

A smaller sunflower head with bright yellow petals, resting on a larger dried up sunflower head that's had its seeds harvested. The black seeds are in a small pile infront of the two heads.

When we think about edible gardens, the first things that spring to mind are fruits and vegetables, and then perhaps herbs. But what about seeds and grains – where do they fit in, and are they even worth growing? The answer is a resounding yes!

Seeds and grains have plenty to contribute, so read on or watch the video for our pick of the crop.

Pumpkin Seeds

Pumpkins are big news in the autumn vegetable garden. Give them rich soil and plenty of room and they will reward you with two harvests for the effort of one – full-flavoured flesh and snackable seeds.

Here’s our guide to roasting them:

  • Cut the pumpkin open, then scrape the seeds out with a spoon. Pull off any bits of stringy flesh and rinse them clean in water.
  • Now, spread them out onto a baking sheet or pan, drizzle over olive oil then sprinkle on a few ingredients to add flavour. Salt is a great starting point. We also love adding some chilli pepper flakes and fennel seeds before mixing it all together to combine.A close up of some roasted pumpkin seeds laid out on a tray
  • Roast them in the oven at 350ºF/180ºC or Gas Mark 4 for about 10 minutes.
  • Once the seeds are golden, take them out of the oven and leave them to cool down completely before storing in an airtight container – if you can resist eating them there and then that is!

Sunflower Seeds

Give sunflowers a sunny spot in the garden sheltered from strong winds and they’ll be standing tall and proud by summer. The seeds are ready to harvest once the petals have withered and the seeds can clearly be seen. Rub the seed head back and forth to dislodge the seeds.

You can roast sunflower seeds as they are – no need for oil – in as little as five minutes, but we reckon salted sunflower seeds taste best:

  • Pour two pints, or a litre, of water into a pan along with two tablespoons of salt and a cup of seeds.
  • Bring the water to the boil then simmer for 15 to 20 minutes.
  • Drain the seeds, spread them out on a baking sheet and roast for up to 15 minutes.
  • After 10 minutes is up, check the seeds every few minutes because they can go from perfect to burnt very quickly. Let them cool before storing.
  • Enjoy your salted sunflower seeds, but spit out the tough shells!

Amaranth and Quinoa

Amaranth and quinoa (pronounced keen-wah) are two protein-rich grains that make a delicious alternative to rice or pasta. They aren’t difficult to grow and they make colourful additions to the garden. Plant them into nutrient-rich, well-drained soil that gets plenty of sun, then once they’re established they’ll quickly take off!

The grains are ready when they are easy to shake free. You’ll need to winnow the chaff from the grains, first by sieving and then carefully blowing away what remains or by catching a breeze. Allow the grains to dry thoroughly for at least a week before storing. Quinoa needs rinsing in water before cooking to ensure it’s not bitter.

Three dried poppy seed heads on their stems clustered together and foregrounded on a blurry autumn field backgroundPoppy Seeds

Poppy seeds – delicious in cakes and bread – come from the opium or breadseed poppy, Papaver somniferum. In most areas it’s perfectly legal to grow this type of poppy for its pretty flowers and tasty seeds, but check local laws before planting!

This sun-lover is ready to harvest once the seed pods are dry and seeds spill out of the top when turned upside down. Cut them off and bring them indoors to a warm room to finish drying, then pull the pods apart to free the seeds for storing.

Seeds for Spices

Many leafy herbs will also produce seeds for the spice cabinet. Fennel is an easy-to-grow perennial herb that comes back year after year. Sunshine and a free-draining soil should see plants thrive, throwing up clouds of pretty yellow flowers each summer. Simply wait for the seeds that follow, gather them up and dry for storage.

Like fennel, caraway is a member of the carrot family. It prefers cooler, temperate climates and, as a biennial, only lives for two years. Keep plants well-watered in the first year to encourage strong plants producing plenty of seeds in their second.

Grow your own coriander seeds too by allowing it to flower and set seed, which it readily does if sown in the first half of the year as days continue to lengthen.

Then there are nigella seeds, also known as black onion seeds, though bearing no relation. The seeds come from the hardy annual nigella, or love-in-a-mist. Sow the seeds in autumn into well-drained soil that’s been raked to a fine tilth, or wait until spring if your winters are very cold. Harvest the seed heads when they are crisp-dry.

Here’s just a few ideas to get you started, and don’t forget many of these plants are also a big attraction for wildlife – if you don’t mind sharing! Tell us if you’ve grown any of these seeds or grains before, or perhaps you have others to recommend? Comment below or head over to our Facebook and Twitter page.

End of Summer Finale for Mr Fothergill’s Staff Competitions

October 9th, 2019 | News | 0 Comments

Every year, our trials team organises gardening-related challenges to Mr Fothergill’s employees. This summer, volunteers could grow a children’s garden or the largest onion. Teams designing the gardens used their creative skills and came up with lots of great ideas that were then judged at our annual Press Day by visiting journalists.

Competition was stiff and closely matched, so much so that we ended up with joint 2 winners and 5 more competitors drawing in 3rd place! Congratulations to Garden 8 (Mr F Minion’s Garden) & Garden 9 (Mr McGregor’s Garden) for taking home joint first place.

Garden 8, Mr F Minions Garden. A small garden including crafty and colourful homemade decorations made from pots, buckets and other garden materials, set on a raised display draped with hessian fabricGarden 9, Mr McGregor's Garden. A small garden featuring a round wooden sign that reads "Mr McGregors WELCOME", colourful flowers and Peter Rabbit references, including a Peter Rabbit stone statuette and photocopied pages from a Peter Rabbit book.

The largest onion competition also had its keen participants. 25 people competed with each other with good-natured banter and secret growing methods employed.

In the end, the heaviest onion was grown by Paul, our Head of Mail Order with a weight of 1.54kg. Finance Director Phil gained 2nd whose onion was 1.38kg in weight, Aga and Rob from our Sales Office were just behind him with 1.34kg.

The 4 winners of the Mr F staff growing onion competition, stood in a row holding their prize onions and smiling.

Everyone grew Mr Fothergill’s Exhibition Onion but could use any fertiliser they wanted. Many went for Seasol, others tried chicken manure or even sheep poo. The winner said: ‘As a first-time onion grower I had no magic formula, so just did a bit of research. I fed my plants weekly with sulphate of ammonia (nitrogen) and every two weeks with a plant tonic.’

Aga and Rob commented: ‘‘From the very first day, we watered our onion every day and made sure we raked the soil around it, to air the soil and allow the water to get down to the roots. From an internet tip from Peter Glazebrook, we used a sulphate of ammonia growth booster which was a good source of nitrogen, which encouraged leafy growth. The more leaves the larger the onion should grow. We used Seasol every time we watered.’’

Mr Fothergill’s has a wide range of easy to grow varieties for children. Exhibition Onion is ideal for shows and cooking alike. Our seed is available from Mr Fothergill’s retail stockists throughout the UK, from our latest Seed Catalogue or online. Visit your local garden centre for the full range or head over to

Make a Healthy Start with Mr Fothergill’s and David Domoney this 2020 Season

September 4th, 2019 | News | 0 Comments

David Domoney Make a Healthy Start campaign. Grow to eat the rainbow!


‘Make a healthy start’ is a new message promoting the importance of eating a rainbow of colours for the best diet.

It’s no secret that vegetables have the power to boost our health, but did you know that eating a rainbow of colours gives you the best chance of a well-rounded diet? Nutritional facts featured on point of sale show which vitamins are in the vegetables people eat every day.

The booklet, which is included free for customers to take, has also been updated. As well as tips on what to sow and how to start growing, there is seasonal inspiration, interesting facts, vitamins content, a sowing calendar, crop rotation information and more.




A packet of Mr Fothergill's David Domoney Rocket seeds



Aimed at encouraging newcomers to grow-your-own, the collection includes 56 of the most popular vegetable varieties and 10 easy-to-use seed mats and tapes. Packet instructions offer simple, jargon-free growing advice and a QR code links to further ‘on the spot’ tips from David.

The 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 suited better to smaller scale growing and beginner gardeners than traditional pea and bean packaging.





David Domonet Make a Healthy Start Point Of Sale standAmong top selling varieties are basil, pea and carrot. David Domoney commented: “The aim in launching the ‘make a healthy start’ stand is to highlight clearly for gardeners the health benefits available to them, to make choosing seed varieties that much easier. Coupled with a rainbow vitamin scale, the packaging guides them through which seeds are best suited to their needs, depending on the food they want to harvest and the individual dietary requirements they might have. This is all in the aim to get people growing at home and reaping the plentiful rewards involved in that.”

Customers who buy a seed packet from the range are then given a chance to win a brand new NutriBullet food processor—the all-in-one Magic Bullet Blender to help nourish your soul. All you have to do to enter the prize draw, is snap a photo of the packet you’ve purchased and upload it to the entry page on the website.

Visit your local garden centre for the full range or head over to

Growing for cutting

March 1st, 2019 | Plant Talk with Graham Rice | 0 Comments

Lupin 'Pink Fairy', Nicotiana 'Babybella' and Ridolphia segetum.A customer came into my friend’s florist shop recently and said: “You can’t get British cut flowers any more.” Well, apart from the fact that if she’d just looked out of the window she’d have seen the cutting garden from which flowers for the shop are cut – well, she could always grow her own!

So could we all and Mr F are helping out with a new range of plants specifically chosen for cutting. They’ll arrive in May, ideal planting time, and give you colourful cut flowers all summer.

Nicotiana ‘Babybella’ is a new deep red variety that I discussed here a few weeks ago that mixes well with ‘Florence Blue’ cornflowers. This cornflower variety is a lovely vivid blue but it’s shorter than most cut-flower cornflowers so doesn’t topple over in anything above a gentle breeze.

Both these plants are new to the Mr F plant range but I also picked out one or two familiar favourites from the Mr F range that are invaluable for cutting.

Salvia viridis, which used to be called Salvia horminum, is exceptionally long lasting in the garden and in the vase – mainly because it’s not the tiny flowers that generate the colour but the large leafy bracts around them.

Annual lupins make lovely cut flowers, they should be better known. The flowers of ‘Pink Fairy’ open white and then take on pink tones as they mature, they come on long string, but not think, stems and they have a strong scent too.

Finally I’d suggest a plant that you may not know, Ridolfia segetum. It’s a little like a sharp yellow cow parsley but far more refined and long lasting and it goes with almost anything in a garden bouquet.

There are more. Check out the new Mr F Cut Flower Range and be sure also to take a look at other annuals and perennials that are ideal for cutting. My list is getting longer, I’m not sure where I’m going to grow my veg this year…