Posts Tagged ‘seeds’

How to Save Seeds from Beans, Peppers, Onions and More

August 28th, 2018 | News | 0 Comments

You’ve sown it, grown it and harvested it. But how can you take your vegetable growing one step further?

Easy: by saving your own seed from this year’s crops to sow next season.

When you come to think about it, saving seed is the ultimate in self-sufficiency; it’ll save you money and closes the loop on your growing but, above all, it’s delightfully satisfying.

Read on or watch the video to find out how to save those seeds.

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What to save

Some vegetables are easier to save seed from than others. Especially suitable candidates include peas and beans, tomatoes, peppers and lettuce, which can all be saved at the same time they are harvested or very soon afterwards.

Some biennial crops, such as onions, shallots, leeks, carrots, beetroot and chard are also worth saving, though you’ll need to overwinter a few plants from one season to flower and set seed the next.

What not to save

Avoid saving seeds from the cabbage family. These plants readily cross-pollinate with other members of the same family, so you’re unlikely to get what you hoped for.

The same goes for F1 hybrid which, because they are created from two separate parent varieties, simply won’t come true to type. For this reason, only ever save the seeds of traditional, open-pollinated varieties. F1 hybrids should include ‘F1’ in the variety name on the seed packet.

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Saving bean and pea seeds

Peas and beans are the easiest of the lot. As the end of the season approaches leave some pods to dry out on the plants. You’ll be able to see and feel the beans swelling within their pods. They’re ready to pick and collect when the pods themselves turn leathery or crisp to the touch.

You can get a lot of seeds from just a few plants, which makes saving these seeds very worthwhile indeed. Shell the pods to reveal the beans or peas inside, then discard any very small, misshapen or damaged seeds. Save only the best clean seeds. Spread them out onto newspaper to dry out on a warm windowsill for 7-10 days.

Fava beans, or broad beans, can cross-pollinate with other varieties, so only save seeds from these beans if you are growing just one variety.

Saving lettuce seeds

Lettuces produce literally thousands of seeds on each seed head. You may find you need to stake the plants as they stretch out to flower.

Once the plant displays its fluffy seed heads, pull it out of the ground and hang it upside down indoors to dry. After a few weeks like this the seed heads can be rubbed between the palms of your hands to coax the seeds free.

As with any vegetable, it’s important to choose the very best plants to collect seed from. This way you will actively select for those plants that perform the strongest and are best suited to the conditions in your garden.

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Saving pepper and tomato seeds

The seeds of tomatoes and peppers are ready when the fruits themselves are good for eating.

Wait until sweet peppers and chillies show their mature colour, then simply scrape away the seeds from the pith. Spread the seeds out on paper to dry out for a week or more before storing.

Before drying and storing tomato seeds, the pulp around them must first be removed. This isn’t difficult, but there is a specific process to do this correctly. See more on our blog for tips on how to do this.

Saving onion and leek seeds

Onions, leeks and shallots set seed in their second year. These plants cross-pollinate, so you’ll need to overwinter more than one plant of the same variety to flower the following season. The flowers are beautiful though, and provide welcome food for local bees and other pollinators.

The seed heads are ready once they have dried out and can be flaked off into a bag for cleaning and sorting. But if you need the space, you can hurry things along by cutting the heads a little earlier. First, check the seeds are ready by opening up a seed pod to observe the seeds inside. If the seeds are black, then you’re good to go.

Leave the seed heads to dry out in a warm, well-ventilated place, such as a greenhouse. Once they’ve turned a straw colour, simply rub the seed heads between your fingers to release the seeds.

How to store saved seeds

Dry seeds can be cleaned before storing by carefully blowing away any remaining chaff, or separating out the seeds through a series of screens or sieves.

Seeds should be stored in paper envelopes labelled with the variety and date.

Store them somewhere cool, dry and dark until you’re ready to sow in spring.

If you have any top tips for saving seeds, comment below or head over to our Facebook and Twitter page.

We are 40 and fabulous!

August 8th, 2018 | News | 0 Comments

We are celebrating our 40th year in business this year. On the 17th August 1978 our company was created by Brian Carey and Jeff Fothergill. Jeff’s surname was chosen for the company’s brand and the ‘old boy character’ was born. The objective was to create a friendly and established feel. This certainly worked as many people are surprised that they’ve not been around much longer, convinced that they remember their parents buying Mr Fothergill’s seeds years before it existed. In fact compared to other seed brands Mr Fothergill’s is a relative youngster but it was the injection of new ideas and application of our youthful enthusiasm for selling seeds that has driven the company from a tiny start-up to one of the largest packet seed suppliers in Europe.

A printed declaration of seeds per packet, foil sachets and pictoral packets of British native wild flowers are just a few of the things that where pioneered by us and are now taken for granted.

Over the past four decades we have added other brand names to our portfolio and now operate three brands in the retail market with Mr Fothergill’s, Johnsons and Country Value. These brands have also worked in partnership with well-known organisations and personalities to produce separate specialist seed ranges including; The Royal Horticultural Society, Sarah Raven, Jekka McVicar and David Domoney. They have also been keen to support charities where ever they can and currently raise funds through product sales and other activities for Greenfingers, The Royal Hospital Chelsea, Plant Heritage, The RSPB and The Bumble Bee Conservation Trust.

Management of the company has now changed to a second generation with John Fothergill and David Carey taking over the reigns as joint managing directors so it remains a wholly family owned and run business.

David & John said “We feel lucky to be working in an industry that ultimately creates joy, satisfaction, relaxation and purpose (to name but a few things) across such a wide spectrum of people. Service, quality, choice and innovation are the four cornerstones of our business that shape what we offer and how we work with our customers. Something that we will remain focused on for the next forty years and hopefully beyond”.

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The 1970’s Garden

The Modern Garden

Our Mr Fothergill’s trials team have created two gardens on the Suffolk trial ground this year to celebrate the 40th anniversary. They have been designed to show the shift in trends over the years with a typical small garden of the 70’s with neat formal lines of bedding versus an up to date small garden that incorporates flowers with fruit and vegetables, upcycling and area for relaxation.

 

 

 

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 mr-fothergills.co.uk.

We are Teaming up with the RHS to Send Seeds to Syrian Refugees

May 23rd, 2018 | News | 0 Comments

Hundreds of Syrian refugees from the Domiz Camp in Northern Iraq are benefiting from receiving 2,000 flower and vegetable seed packets, from Mr Fothergill’s Seeds.

Sent as part of a project set up by the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) and The Lemon Tree Trust, the seeds were specially chosen by 200 Syrian families, who despite living in difficult circumstances, hope to gain some joy from the benefits of gardening. The list was made up of varieties that would bring colour to the camp and could be grown in the harsh conditions, including marigolds, sunflowers, peppers and cucumbers.

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The delivery of seeds to the refugee camp is reminiscent of a similar act, a hundred years ago, when the RHS sent seeds to British prisoners of war in the Ruhleben camp in Germany. Both instances showing that gardening and plants can bring hope, comfort and sanctuary to those displaced by war.

Tim Jeffries, our Commercial Director commented “We were absolutely delighted to be able to help out the RHS and The Lemon Tree Trust by donating seeds from our ranges. We hope that they will provide some pleasure for those living in the difficult conditions of the Domiz Camp.”

‘The Lemontree Trust Garden’ designed by Tom Massey, is being showcased at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show this year and is inspired by the gardening in the Domiz Camp, where the seeds were sent.

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Make Your Own Seed Starting Mix

March 5th, 2018 | News | 0 Comments

It’s that time of year again: seed sowing time. Sowing the first seeds of the growing season is always incredibly exciting. Think about all the fresh, home-grown products to come.

If you are planning on starting to sow in containers, you will need seed starting mix. And since buying this is often quite expensive, we will show you how to make your own.

 

Seed starting Mix

The perfect seed starting mix, should not be too high in nutrients, which could harm delicate seedlings. The mix should also hold on to moister without becoming soggy. Overly wet conditions can rot seeds and encourage fungal diseases such as damping off.

Here is a very simple recipe: It’s a soilless recipe so it’s beautifully light and fluffy. All the ingredients are natural too, promoting good strong growth and healthy, happy seedlings.

Seed-starting-mixBegin with 2 parts compost as your base. All parts measured by volume; So it doesn’t matter what you use to measure your ingredients, as long as you are consistent.

The compost adds slowly released nutrients to the mix, which will help to feed seedlings as they grow. You can use your own garden compost or buy some.

Break up clumps with your hands or screen/sift it to get a fine even texture.

Then add 2 parts coir or coconut fiber. If your coirs come in a block, rehydrate it first by soaking it in a bucket of water until you can easily break it apart. If you prefer you could substitute well-rotted leafmould instead of the coir.

Finally, add 1 part perlite, which will both lighten the mix and improve its air content. You can substitute perlite with sand, but it will give you a heavier mixture.

Mix all the ingredients together, create a consistent mix with all the ingredients evenly distributed. Once done, store the seed starter mix in a lidded container or in a plastic sac. Store your mix in a dry cool place.

 

Using your seed starting mix

Moisture your seed starting mix a little bit before using it, for it to be damp but not sodden. You can use your mix for sowing into plug trays, plastic pots, seeds trays or any other container suitable for seed sowing.

Gently press down your seed starting mix as you fill your container and take particular care to properly fill out the corners. Top up with more mix if required. Sow your seeds according to the package’s instructions and water. Watering requires some care if you don’t want to blast the mix out of the container.

Once the seedlings have germinated, it is best to water them from below. Put your containers in shallow trays of water, until the surface of the mix is moist.

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Potting on

Many seedlings need potting on into larger containers at least once before it’s time to plant them out. Most will be happy in the same seed starting mix. But for hungrier seedlings like tomato for example, they will appreciate something a bit richer. Adding some worm compost, gives it the nutritional boost for after.

 

Container Potting Mixes

Try this potting mix for plants to be grown in larger containers.

Combine 2 parts garden compost with 1 part coir or leamould. Now add some perlite for drainage. 2-3 generous handfuls to every 10 gallons or 40 liters of the coir/compost mix. A similar amount of worm compost can also be added for hungry plants. Or incorporate a slow release organic fertilizer according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

Plants grown in the same container for a very long time need a potting mix that holds its structure. Loam or good quality garden soil offers this.

Simply combine 1 part loam or garden soil with 1 part garden compost. Then add some slow releasing organic fertilizer.

 

Making your own potting mix will save you a lot of money, but the other benefit of these recipes is that they can also be tweaked depending on what you are growing.

 

 

These are just a few tips and ideas to help you create your own sowing mix. If you have any additonal tips let us know which ones in the comments below or head over to our Facebook and Twitter page and tell us what you would recomend.