Veg in the Park

We ran an allotment completion this year so that we could see what you make of your allotments and why they mean so much to you. Our winning entry was from Caroline Lawson from Veg in the Park, who told us all about their community growing up;

veg in the park

V.I.P ( Veg In the Park ) is a community growing hub for all residents across East Oldham, we don’t say allotments as this indicates it’s their own, and everything we grow we share, sell and all money will be reinvested back into V.I.P

veg in the park

We are a very new growing hub as we only opened in July of this year, our age range is from 3 to 95, and we all benefit from each other.

veg in the park

The growing hub was an idea that me and a friend came up with as we realised not all kids knew where veg came from and had never even touched or tasted some vegetables. The hub site was funded by public health and our local councillors, but we opened with no money in the bank and limited tool. With friends, we grew some of the veg in our own gardens throughout the year so when the hub was opened we could transplant what we had grown. We have 3 local primary schools wanting to have their garden clubs with us now, and we have given each school a flat bed that they can grow and produce whatever they want , they will be taking over their beds soon.

veg in the park

We also want to help the older folk as well as most are in bad health and even though they have gardening skills, they can no longer manage their allotments, but can come and help us. We have 18 raised beds of various heights so no bending down to ground levels, and we get expert advice from people who have gardening skills.

veg in the park

We also have a 50 foot polytunnel, so we are not lacking in space! Our site is all about growing from seed to plate, and we tell everyone the one rule we have is to have fun, It also helps with health & well being.

A very worthy winner!

Garden furniture for winter interest

What would our gardens be without garden furniture? Now, I can already pre-empt your response and it would still be a truly stunning place to admire. Winter pansies flourishing in window boxes, hardy shrubs such as Viburnum ‘Winter Beauty’ will be adding winter interest to your garden borders and not forgetting rummaging hedgehogs looking for a warm and dry place to rest. Delightful!

But, (there is always a but) garden furniture adds a real focal point in any garden, big or small. And whilst you are right in thinking of summer bbqs, water feature, gazebos and lawnmowers, there are many alternative pieces that you can use in your garden to enjoy over winter too.

Garden furniture

Chimeneas – Garden chimeneas come in handy when entertaining friends and family in the cold and crisp evenings. Our online range are also easy on the eye, no one wants an eye-sore in their garden!

Garden furniture

Patio heaters – It really would be a shame if you could only enjoy your gardens in the summer months. After months of planting, sowing and pruning you should be able to enjoy your garden all year round. For when the evenings are a little cooler and frosty, a patio heater will help take the chill off so you can enjoy those evenings in your garden a little longer.

Garden furniture

Fire pits – Fire pits and braziers are not only modern and idyllic focal points, they will take the chill off winter evenings so you are able to enjoy your gardens at anytime!

Garden furniture

Bird tables – Attract birds and wildlife to your garden with one of our beautiful bird baths and bird feeder. Make sure you position your bird bath in a safe location and in sight so it can easily be found.

Garden furniture

Garden arbour seats – A stunning piece of garden furniture for withstanding the elements of British weather. Arbour seats create an idyllic place to rest in evenings, or daytime, with a good book in hand and perfectly brewed cup of tea (Now, where do I buy one!)

Garden furniture

Benches – Garden benches are a convenient and stylish way to add seating to your garden or patio. The Royal Garden Stacking Bench will be just what you need for whiling away the hours in outdoor comfort. Made from Steel, this bench will also resist the affects of winter weather.

Garden furniture

Awnings – Garden awnings are a great way to extend your home into the garden, whatever the weather. Easy to assemble and fit, they are perfect for providing shade or cover for the odd summer shower.

RHS Award of Garden Merit Vegetables

These award-winning RHS Award of Garden Merit vegetables have all passed extensive trials and been judged for their outstanding garden performance, yield and flavour. But just how do you receive such a prestige award? Plants must;

  • Be of outstanding excellence for ordinary garden use
  • Be of good constitution
  • Not require highly specialist growing conditions or care
  • Not be particularly susceptible to any pest or disease

Here are our top 5 RGM vegetables for 2016. Look out for more RHS vegetables throughout our website which will be highlight with the RGM symbol.

Beetroot Wodan F1 Hybrid

RHS Award of Garden Merit Vegetables

This variety can be freshly cooked either as baby beet or as a larger root and will provide astonishing flavour. Bright red-fleshed roots will not go woody like other beetroot varieties. Can be direct sown from April our purchased as Beetroot plug plants you can plant them straight out in May.

Broad Bean Jubilee Hysor

RHS Award of Garden Merit Vegetables

Producing a tremendous yield of well filled pods, this variety is a major improvement on traditional varieties. Each pod contains 6-8 beans if superb flavour. Direct sow under a cloche in February or without protection in March.

Runner Bean St George

RHS Award of Garden Merit Vegetables

This British bred bean will produce an early and heaving crop of quality seed pods. Sow alongside Nasturtiums to draw aphids away from your crop. You can direct sow Runner Bean St George from late May.

Carrot Bangor F1 Hybrid

RHS Award of Garden Merit Vegetables

Great for juicing, this variety is one of the best and tallest Maincrop for the garden. Vibrant colour and excellent flavour, this is a must have for 2016. Try growing carrots with spring onions, leeks and mint, whose aromatic leaves deter carrot fly.

Chili Pepper Basket of Fire F1 Hybrid

RHS Award of Garden Merit Vegetables

Chilli peppers are versatile in the kitchen. They can be used fresh or dried in sauces, grilled, roasted, stir-fried or as a pizza topping. Chilli Pepper Basket of Fire has a unique habit which makes it the perfect choice for hanging baskets and patio containers. These plants have shown good tolerance to cooler weather and will continue to fruit outdoors well into autumn.

Growing Mushrooms

growing mushrooms

Mushroom ‘Oyster’

Mushroom growing may seem complicated but our mushroom dowels, mushroom spawn and complete mushroom growing kits all provide full instructions and everything you will need to grow your own mushrooms at home. Mushrooms are virtually fat and calorie-free and packed full of vitamins and minerals to keep you feeling on top form – an 80g serving even counts towards your 5-a-day vegetable target. They are a very rich source of protein and therefore perfect for vegetarians.

Remember – it’s better to grow your own, than to risk picking wild mushrooms!



What is a mushroom dowel?

We supply our Oyster mushrooms, Shiitake mushrooms and Lion’s mane mushrooms as dowels. The wooden dowels are impregnated with mushroom mycelium (mushroom spawn) ready to ‘plant’ into a hardwood log. They should be stored in the fridge or a cool, dark, well ventilated place until ready to use.

growing mushrooms

Full Mushroom ‘Oyster’ straw kit

When do you plant mushroom dowels?

Dowels are available all year, however the logs needed to grow the mushrooms should be cut during the tree’s dormant season, between leaf fall in autumn and early spring. It is recommended that the dowels are planted in the log no longer than 6 weeks after the log has been cut to prevent contamination from unwanted fungi.

How do you plant mushroom dowels?

Drill holes about 15cm (6 inches) apart down the length of the log. Rows only need to be spaced 7.5cm (3 inches) apart around the diameter of the log. Insert the dowels and tap them so they are flush with the log surface. Seal the inoculation holes, any damaged bark and any cut branch-ends with a layer of wax but do not wax the log-ends as some moisture must be allowed in. Position the logs in a shady wooded area or wrap them in black polythene and bury them under ground. You could also place them under evergreen shrubs. Keep an eye on your logs and if there are signs of significant cracking soak the logs in water for 2 days to thoroughly wet the bark. Mushroom mycelium may take between 6 and 18 months to colonise a log. You may see the mycelium appear as a ‘V’ shape at the end of the log. Once logs are fully colonised they can be moved to a warm, sheltered, moist area in dappled shade where they will begin to fruit. Growing mushrooms in woodland is ideal to meet these requirements. Lean the logs with one end on a brick, rock or another log – do not place logs flat on the ground.

Totally Tulips

tulip bulbsTulips may not be on the top of everyone’s wish list but they certainly are on mine! With at least 100 species, they offer so much variety and when selected carefully, you can get blooms from March right through to May. Whilst tulips flower in spring, they flower at different times, so you can extend the flowering season by selecting your varieties carefully.

November is the ideal time to plant your tulip bulbs ready for a magnificent spring display. What I admire most about tulip plants is that they are incredibly versatile! They make beautiful bedding plants as well as cut flowers! There is a ‘tip’ spreading round the office like the plague that once cut, if you prick the stem just beneath the flower where the seeds form, you will stop the leaves falling off and prolong the bloom. I’m sceptical but I am going to give it go!

Tulip bulbs will grow in any moist and well drained soil, except particularly wet soils. Plant them in a sunny position that is sheltered from strong winds and when planting, avoid shallow planting as this may reduce the winter cold period that is essential for tulip bulbs to produce flowers in spring. Plant them at a depth of 15cm (6″) and at a distance of 13cm (5″) apart. Once your tulips have flowered, deadhead the faded tulip flowers and allow the foliage to die back completely before removing it in summer.

tulip bulbs

I particularly love the new tulip varieties such as ‘Mixed Parrot’. They look so exotic that you may not even recognise it as a tulip! They will certainly jazz up and add excitement to any garden beds with their ruffled blooms and intriguing colour.

tulip bulbs

Customer trialist Geoff Stonebanks shows off his Tulip ‘Silver Parrot’

A firm customer favourite is Tulip ‘Silver Parrot’. It has proved so popular that we are actually out of stock, but hopefully will be back soon. But, too good not to share with you, the magnificent rosy pink blooms actually reach up to 20cm across!

Let us know what Tulips you are growing and why you love them!

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