Posts Tagged ‘how to’

Growing Sweet Corn from Sowing to Harvest

June 20th, 2018 | News | 0 Comments

There’s something pretty special about a handsome stand of homegrown sweetcorn. But the real prize lies in harvesting it. Picking the cobs, then excitedly peeling back the sheath to reveal those full, creamy kernels is just magical! And there’s no better treat than cooking them straight away for the sweetest possible taste. If you fancy growing your own sweetcorn this year, you’re in good company. Here are some tips to set you up for sweet success…

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Growing Super Sweet Corn

Grow sweetcorn in a spot that receives plenty of sunshine, in soil that’s been enriched with a lot of well-rotted organic matter such as compost. Corn’s lofty habit and feathery tassels makes it an attractive plant in its own right.

Hybrid varieties are usually the most reliable choices for cooler climates. If you want especially sweet cobs, then choose varieties described as such – many will even have the word ‘sweet’ or ‘sugar’ in the name.

 

How to Sow Sweetcorn

Corn loves the warmth and won’t tolerate frost. While the seeds may be sown directly outside once the soil has warmed up, the safest way to sow is into pots in the protection of a greenhouse, polytunnel or cold frame. That way you can begin sowing three to four weeks before your last frost date and enjoy a head start on outdoor-sown corn – a huge advantage in shorter growing seasons.

Sow eight to ten seeds half an inch (1cm) deep into four inch- (10cm) wide pots. You can use any general purpose or seed-starting potting mix. Alternatively, sow into smaller pots or plug trays, sowing two seeds to each pot or module then removing the weakest of the two seedlings.

Sweetcorn hates the cold and is best started off in a greenhouse, polytunnel or cold frame

Keep pots moist as they grow on. Ideally they should be about six inches (15cm) tall by the time you’re ready to plant them outside. Harden off the plants as your recommended planting time approaches by leaving them outside for increasingly longer spells over the course of about a week.

 

Mr-Fothergills-patch-of-growing-sweetcornHow to Plant Sweetcorn

Sweetcorn is wind-pollinated, so instead of planting them in a long row, set your plants out in a block for the highest chance of success. If the corn isn’t well pollinated, it will still grow but will be missing many of the kernels from the cob.

Remove your young plants from their pots, then very carefully tease their roots apart. Try to retain as much of the soil around the roots as possible. Now plant your sweet corn 18 inches (45cm) apart in both directions. Dig a hole for each plant, feed the roots to the bottom of the hole then firm the soil back in.

Sweetcorn is best grown in blocks rather than rows for the best harvests

Sprawling squashes make a great companion for sweet corn. The squash will carpet the ground and help suppress weeds as the sweetcorn grows skywards.

 

 

Caring for Sweetcorn

Remove any weeds that pop up within your sweetcorn by hand and continue weeding while you are still able to get between the plants. Sweetcorn is sturdy and shouldn’t need supporting. It will appreciate watering in very dry weather, particularly from late summer as the tassels appear and the cobs begin to form.

Sweetcorn is ready to pick when the tassels turn dark brown

 

When to Pick Sweetcorn

The cobs are ready to pick when the tassels at the end turn dark brown, usually around six weeks after first appearing. If you’re unsure whether a cob’s good to go, try the fingernail test. Peel back the top of the protective sheath then sink a fingernail firmly into a kernel. If it exudes a creamy liquid, it’s ready. If it’s not quite there the liquid will still be watery, and if there’s no liquid the cob is already past its best.

To harvest, twist the cob and pull it away. Aim to enjoy your harvested corncobs as soon as you can. Try it boiled or barbecued then served up with lashings of butter and pepper!

Corn is sweetest cooked as soon as possible after harvesting

Do you know there are even some gardeners who swear by getting a pan of water on the boil before harvesting their sweetcorn so it can go from plot to pan in mere seconds?

 

These are just a few tips and ideas to help you grow your own sweetcorn. If you would like to share any tips for growing or enjoying super sweet corn, then please, comment below or head over to our Facebook and Twitter page.

Growing Cucumbers From Sowing to Harvest

June 11th, 2018 | News | 0 Comments

If you are wondering if you should plant cucumber or not, the answer should be yes!

They are cucumber varieties suitable to be grown outdoors or in the greenhouse, so watch this video to find out how to grow your own cucumber.

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Where to grow cucumbers

Outdoor cucumbers also called ridge cucumbers will tolerate cooler climates.

Greenhouse cucumbers form smoother fruits but do need the extra warmth for success.

Some varieties will happily grow inside or out, pick a sunny, sheltered spot in the garden.

 

How to sow cucumbers

Sow cucumbers from mid-spring into small pots of seed starting or general potting mix. Sow 2 seeds about 1 inch/3cm deep and water well. To germinate cucumbers, need temperatures of at least 68⁰F/20⁰C; so place pots into a propagator for a speedier germination, or simply wait until later in Spring to get started.

Once the seedlings appear, remove the weakest to leave one per pot.

 

Greenhouse cucumbers

Greenhouse cucumbers can be planted into beds, large containers of potting soil, or growing bags. If using the latter, plant 2 cucumbers per bag into bottomless pots set on top of the growing bag. These will help to trap moisture every time you water instead of running off, over the surface.

Put in place support such as bamboo canes, vertical wires, strong netting or trellis. Train vines up their support, then pinch out the growing tips when they reach the top to encourage side-shoots. The side shoot should be pinched out after each developing fruit, to leave two leaves beyond each fruit.

 

Feeding

Feed plants every two weeks, with a liquid fertilizer, that’s high in potassium and keep these thirsty plants moist at all times.

 

Male and female flowers

Unless you are growing an all-female variety, remove the male flowers from greenhouse plants. This prevents bitter-tasting fruits. It’s easy to identify female flowers by the slight swelling of the embryonic fruit behind each bloom.

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Outdoor cucumbers

Outdoor cucumbers should be planted when the soil is warm, in late spring or early summer. Gradually acclimatise plants for a week or two beforehand. A cold frame is useful for this hardening off period.

In warmer climates you can sow seeds directly.

 

Soil requirements

Cucumbers prefer rich, fertile soil so dig in plenty of well-rotted organic matter, such as compost before planting.

If you are growing your cucumbers upwards using support such as trellis, set plants about 18in/45cm apart. Or if you are leaving them to grow over the soil surface instead, plant them about 3ft/90cm apart.

Pinch out the growing points after 6 leaves have formed to encourage plants to produce fruiting side shoots. Climbing plants might need tying to vertical supports, particularly as the heavy fruits start to develop.

 

Make a cucumber frame

Another option for outdoor cucumbers is a cucumber frame.

To make one, stretch wire or netting over a wooden frame and secure it into place using staples or U-shaped nails. Prop the frame up onto an A-frame of bamboo canes. The beauty of this type support is that leafy salads like lettuce may be grown underneath, to take advantage of the shade produced by the cucumbers. This is a clever solution for growing cools season crops in hot climates.

 

How to harvest cucumbers

Harvest cucumbers when they are still small and tender. Cut them free using a sharp knife or pruners. Pick often to encourage more fruits and if you can harvest in the morning while it’s still cool.

Gherkin varieties are picked very small, 1in/3cm long for crunchy cornichons or 3in/8cm long for larger pickles.

 

Cucumbers are always welcome, sliced into sandwiches or salads, pickled or dropped into soothing summer drinks; there are many ways to enjoy them.

 

 

These are just a few tips and ideas to help you grow your own cucumbers. If you would like to share any tips on how to grow your cucumbers or recipes with us, comment below or head over to our Facebook and Twitter page.

How to Build a Raised Bed?

April 30th, 2018 | News | 0 Comments

Spring is the perfect time of the year to start a raised bed. Here are some tips on how to build your own:

Prepare the Ground

  • Let’s start by laying cardboard over the area the new bed will occupy. This will help to clear all the grass and weeds beneath.
  • The first thing to do is to remove any staples and bits of tape that are left on the cardboard you are going to use, as they won’t decompose.
  • Then, spread your cardboard all over your growing area. This will stop the weeds and the grass growing through.
  • Lay bark chippings directly onto the cardboard to give a neat and tidy finish.
  • A good tip is to make the cardboard pieces overlap, so no weeds can creep through any gaps.
  • Once the ground covered you can start making your raised bed.

 

Make the Bed Sides

  • Measure and cut your wood planks to size. This will create the four walls of your raised bed, all of equal length.
  • Drill some pilot holes, this will make it easier to screw the walls together. 2 holes in each plank is sufficient.

 

Assemble the Raised Bed

  • The walls of the bed need to be laid out, so that each of the planks overlaps the next. With the pilot holes located at the overlapping end.
  • Use long screws to screw the walls together, so that each wall is properly secured to the next.

 

Fill your Raised Bed

  • To start, add a layer of compost to the bed. This will give a nutrient-rich, moister-attentive layer for the roots to grow down into.
  • Use a rich top soil for the second layer. Its finer texture will enable you to sow and plant immediately.
  • You can now sow and plant, enjoy!

 

 

These are just a few tips and ideas to help you create your own raised bed in your garden. If you are planning your own, comment below or head over to our Facebook and Twitter page and let us know your tips and what you are planting.

Mr Fothergill’s Easy Grow Guides: How To Grow Carrots

April 24th, 2018 | News | 0 Comments

 

 

Carrots are one of those vegetables that you can grow at home in your garden really easily and taste *better* than what you can buy in the shops.  A freshly pulled carrot from the plot tastes better than even the best quality organic carrot in a little boutique farm shop.  This is because the sugars in a freshly pulled root haven’t had time to turn to starch, and so the very best tasting carrot is eaten straight from plot to pot to plate.

You can sow carrots from early spring until mid-summer.  Try out different varieties to give you an array of colours from the regular orange through to the deepest of purples and reds, or to the other end of the colour spectrum with pale yellow and cream roots.

You can sow carrot seeds regularly – try every three week intervals – to ensure you have a continuous supply for the kitchen.  Towards the end of the sowing season, sow varieties that stand well in the soil as it turns colder during winter and you can maybe manage to supply yourself with carrots all year round.  No more tasteless supermarket carrots!

Our best selling carrots are reliable for beginner growers and seasoned gardeners alike, so think about trying from the following selection if you are growing for the first time, or if you want to try something new then explore the many carrot varieties on offer in our website 

  • Autumn King 2: A reliable maincrop that has a long season and a Best Buy variety recommended by gardening press and consumer groups.
  • Carrot Nantes 5: A delicious early variety good as ‘finger’ carrots. The blunt-ended roots have an outstanding flavour.
  • Royal Chantenay 3: Distinctly sweet tasting and succulent, short conical roots that can be used whole as ‘baby’ carrot or left to mature.
  • Parmex: A super early, round carrot, suitable for raising under glass, in the flower garden or on patios. Ideal for shallow soils.
  • Resistafly: A British-bred variety with improved resistance to carrot fly.  The roots have superb colour, a small core and a sweet taste.
  • Harlequin F1: Highly attractive Nantes variety with an unusual mix of colours, from purple and orange to yellow and white.
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Carrot Resistafly F1 Seeds

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Carrot Autumn King 2 Seeds

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Carrot Harlequin F1 Seeds

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Carrot Royal Chantenay 3 Seedsw to