Posts Tagged ‘vegetable gardening’

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 Fresh Food In Winter [video]

December 12th, 2016 | The vegetable garden | 0 Comments

sprouting mung beans

Here we have a short video showing you how to grow fresh food in winter.   In the winter it may seem as though you can’t do any gardening or grow anything to give you a fresh taste.   But sprouting mung beans come to the rescue!  Take a look at our video to find out more and add these tasty fresh micro-veg to your winter diet this year.

Beansprouts or mung beans are great to grow indoors. They only take 5 – 6 days to reach maturity so provide you fresh veg all year round.

  • Rinse mung beans that are fresh and especially for sprouting
  • Put them into a bowl and cover with water
  • Leave them to soak overnight or for at least 12 hours
  • Thoroughly wash a juice carton and cut small holes in the top of the carton
  • Drain the beans and pour them into the carton
  • Fill this with water and screw the lid on
  • Tip it upside down and pour out the water, you should do this twice a day
  • Repeat this for a few days until day 6, which is when you need to cut open the carton and reveal the beansprouts
  • Wash the beansprouts and place them in the fridge, they should last up to three days in the fridge

This is a quick written tutorial on using cartons to grow mung beans for a taste of fresh food in winter, the video below gives a more detailed explanation. Let us know if you have any recipes or ideas for beansprouts!

How to Grow Fresh Food In Winter

Fascinating Facts And Figures About Spinach

July 1st, 2016 | The vegetable garden | 0 Comments

Spinach seedlings

Generations of children will remember  the cartoon character Popeye the sailor man and his large, muscular arms which he fortified by eating tins of spinach. This gave rise to the belief that spinach was a ‘superfood’ because the very high levels of iron it contained helped make the body stronger. While spinach does have a good level of iron, its reputation is based on a mistake made accidentally by a German chemist in 1870. Erich von Wolff analysed spinach, but put his decimal point in the wrong place. He noted spinach contained 35mg of iron per 100gm serving, whereas it was later found to contain just 3.5mg per 100gm serving. More recently, some opinion believes von Wolff did not make such a mistake, but it all still makes for an entertaining story.

We still believe spinach helps to increase our vitality and boost the quality of our blood thanks to its good level of iron. Spinach is an excellent source of vitamins A, C, K and folic acid, plus a good source of manganese, magnesium and vitamin B2. Vitamin K is important for maintaining bone health, and few vegetables are richer in this than spinach is.

We cannot be sure of it’s origins, but it is highly likely it is a native of Persia – modern day Iran and its neighbours. From there it spread to India and China, where it became known as ‘Persian vegetable’ or ‘Persian green’, by which name it is still known today. It also spread westward to Europe, developing a reputation for promoting good health as it did so.

When spinach reached Provence, it became a very popular, widely used vegetable. In the 17th century the English philosopher John Locke reported having eaten spinach and herb soup in his travels in south west France.

Dishes including spinach and a creamy sauce are often referred to as ‘Florentine’. Catherine of Medici, who married King Henri II of France, is said to have introduced spinach to the French court and named dishes containing spinach ‘à la Florentine’ in honour of her Italian heritage.

Spinach (Spinacia oleracea), an annual grown for its edible leaves, is a member of the Amaranthaceae family. The English word ‘spinach’ dates from the 14th century. It does best in fertile soil which is both free-draining and moisture-retentive. Light, dry soils are best avoided, as these are likely to result in premature flowering and running to seed (bolting). Spinach needs plenty of nitrogen, responding well to top-dressings of a general purpose fertiliser or sulphate of ammonia. It tolerates light shade and because of its often-rapid growth it is suitable for catch-cropping and intercropping.

The sprawling perennial Tetragonia tetragonioides is known as New Zealand spinach, where it was found growing wild by Captain James Cook in 1770. It is also found in Tasmania and coastal areas of Australia.  Grown for its young shoots and leaves, it is drought-resistant and heat-tolerant . New Zealand spinach is an acceptable substitute for true spinach in hot dry conditions, where bolting is likely.

To browse all the spinach we have on offer at Mr Fothergill’s just follow these links to the spinach seeds section of our website

 

Royal Horticultural Society

 

This article was first published on the RHS website June 2016. 

Read more on the RHS website about growing spinach successfully.

Red Bodyguard – Taste the Tomato, Read the Book

February 11th, 2016 | News, The vegetable garden | 0 Comments

Ron Levin, author of The Red Bodyguard

A book written about the beneficial properties of the tomato has given its name to a new British-bred variety launched exclusively for the 2016 season by Suffolk seedsman Mr Fothergill’s. “The Red Bodyguard: The Amazing Health-promoting Properties of the Tomato” by Ron Levin is published in its third edition by IRIS (International)  Ltd.

Ron’s daughter-in-law Sarah Levin contacted Mr Fothergill’s to see if a new tomato might be named in honour of her father-on-law’s 90th birthday. Staff at the company read Ron’s book and liked the idea. Tomato Red Bodyguard F1 is the result of various crosses made by renowned breeder Simon Crawford using seed harvested from Mr Fothergill’s trial ground. The result is an indeterminate, early cropping, high yielding, new strain, with some resistance to late blight, which produces medium-sized, juicy, delicious and aromatic fruits.

“We have developed strong links with Simon through the years, and are delighted to have launched his excellent Red Bodyguard F1 for 2016, especially as this has been nominated internationally as the Year of the Tomato, which we shall be emphasising through our retail stockists”, says Mr Fothergill’s technical manager Alison Mulvaney.

Ron Levin, a Fellow of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society, was intrigued by the World Health Organisation’s promotion of eating portions of fruit and vegetables a day, and wondered whether some were better than others for human health. He read hundreds of studies on tomatoes, and the more he read the more he was convinced of the remarkable properties of the tomato. “The ripe red tomato is surely a health gift from Nature”, says Ron. It was this huge amount of research which spurred him to write “The Red Bodyguard” in the hope of making as many people as possible aware of it.

A packet of 10 seeds of tomato Red Bodyguard F1 costs £1.95. It is available from garden centres and other retail outlets throughout the UK, and from Mr Fothergill’s mail order catalogue.

Facts and figures on Onions and Shallots

February 1st, 2016 | The vegetable garden | 0 Comments

Onions from Mr Fothergill'sOnion red baronShallot sets

Onions and shallots are both botanically Allium cepa, with onions, which produce a single bulb, belonging to the Cepa Group and shallots, with their clusters of bulbs, part of the Aggregatum Group. Egyptian and tree onions belong to a third Proliferum Group.

No one is certain where onions originated, but central Asia, Persia (Iran) and Pakistan have all been suggested. Nor are we certain for how long onions have been cultivated, but we believe it to be around 5,000 years. Thanks to their concentric layers of flesh or circles within circles, they represented eternity to the Ancient Egyptians and were even buried with the Pharaohs. Traces of onions have been found in some Bronze Age settlements.

Athletes in Ancient Greece ate plenty of onions in the belief they would ‘lighten the balance’ of their blood. Roman gladiators rubbed themselves down with onions to firm up their muscles. Alexander the Great fed his army onions because he thought that strong food produced strong men. Another famous general, Ulysses S Grant, sent a telegram to the War Department in an onion shortage during the American Civil War saying “I will not move my army without onions”. He soon received his bulbs.

The Greek physician Hippocrates prescribed onions both as a diuretic and wound-healer. During the Middle Ages onions were used to treat snakebites, headaches and hair loss. At this period the onion was a staple of the European diet. Christopher Columbus took it with him to America, but wild onions were already growing there and being eaten by the native North American Indians. When the Pilgrim Fathers arrived more than a century later, onions were one of the first crops they grew on the land they cleared.

Nowadays around 9,000,000 acres of onions are grown worldwide annually. China and India are the two main producers, with the USA a long way back in third place. In the UK just 370 acres are devoted to the commercial production of shallots, with most of these in the eastern counties of Cambridgeshire, Lincolnshire and Bedfordshire. While shallots are easier to grow, quicker to mature and store better than onions, they are nevertheless only a minor crop in comparison.

The Ancient Greeks gave shallots their name, when their traders discovered them in the Palestinian port of Ashkalon and named them after the city. Shallots found their way to Europe in the 11th and 12th centuries when crusaders brought them back from the Middle East.

Shallots are an integral part of many classic French dishes, including Boeuf Bourguignon. The French grey shallot or griselle is considered by some to be the ‘true’ shallot, and is famed for it5s intense, unique flavour.

Still widely grown by gardeners today, Bedfordshire Champion was introduced in 1885 and Ailsa Craig in 1899. Onions and shallots do best in an open, sunny position and in fairly rich, well drained soils. Acid soils should be limed before onions are grown in them. The application of well-rotted manure or compost to the soil in autumn is ideal for spring-sown or planted onions; onion seed should not be sown on freshly manured soil.

 

To browse all the onions, shallots and garlic we have on offer at Mr Fothergill’s just follow this link to the onion section of our website

Royal Horticultural Society

 

This article was first published on the RHS website January 2016. 

Read more on the RHS website about growing onions and shallots successfully.