What Happened In June At The Mr Fothergill’s Trial Ground

So June turned out to be as hectic as expected plus a bit more. Weeding and planting out were the themes of the month and the trial field is suddenly taking shape.

But the biggest transformation has probably been in the main polytunnel; all the early sown transplants had to be moved out to allow the indoors tomatoes to go into their final positions.  Brian’s tried and trusted method is three plants per grow bag, each planted into a 10 litre pot.  With over 90 varieties of tomato in the tunnel trial that’s a mammoth task.

We had great success with the few aubergine varieties we grew in the tunnel last year so we’ve increased that trial and we’re looking at 13 different varieties this year.  Brian likes to grow them the same way as the tomatoes, however they need to be kept moist to stop the dreaded red spider mite – at the first sign of these the plants will have to go!

Out on the field, the first-year flowering perennials were the first to be planted, followed quickly by the half hardy annuals.  We managed to pick some of the hottest days of the year to do this, but the trials team did brilliantly, helped out by several of the office staff who gave up their time to help.  The plants have had to be watered in well but they’re now looking great and we have some splashes of colour out there already.

On the veg front, the sweet corn, leeks and spring onions are all now out in the field and looking good.  We had a bit of a disaster with the brassica trial, first of all it was attacked by slugs and snails then it suffered with the high temperatures and it looks like we’ve lost several rows.  So a resow is in progress and hopefully we’ll still have something to see, albeit later than originally planned.


However, we’ve had great results so far with the indoor cucumber and melon trial.  This year we’ve allocated our two smaller tunnels to these two species, with 14 different cucumbers in one and 8 melons, including baskets of the fascinating Cucamelon in the other.  The melons include both water melons and more standard types so we’re excited to see how well they perform this year.

The staff competitions are now in full swing.  We’ve got several wildlife patches coming to life – the brief is to create a wildlife friendly garden to include a home-made insect hotel.  We’ve got 11 entries to the competition now underway with a wide range of style and ideas coming together on a daily basis.

What Happened In May At The Mr Fothergill’s Trial Ground What Happened In May At The Mr Fothergill’s Trial Ground







The pumpkin growing competition also kicked off this month.  14 teams are competing not only to grow a pumpkin but also to carve it for a Halloween display.  The variety they are all growing is Pumpkin Polar Bear which produces lovely bright white skin, so we’re hoping for some really imaginative creations come Halloween.

We’re now getting to the end of the planting out phase, with quick cropping courgettes, peas, lettuce, dwarf beans, beetroot, chard, spinach, radish and baby leaf left to go.  But before we can get on to them we have to clear a huge crop of the hated muckweed / fat hen / Chenopodium that has suddenly taken advantage of the warm, wet weather.  Seemingly overnight, bare areas of the trial field have been smothered with this amazingly fast growing weed.  Apparently, a single plant can produce 20,000 seeds so the focus is on getting rid of it as quickly and efficiently as possible.

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