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!

Gear the Greenhouse

Whilst the weather is still relatively nice and warm, and autumn days are still upon us, now is the ideal time to start preparing your greenhouse ready for winter. Come spring, there is nothing more nerving than having to clean a dirty greenhouse. Prepare now and in spring you can get started on sowing your seed without the mammoth task of preparing your greenhouse.

greenhouse winter

Firstly, clear out everything from your greenhouse, yes everything. That means plants, pots, seed trays and benches. As you are cleaning the outside it makes sense you do the inside too. Because days are becoming shorter and light is an increasingly valuable resource, removing the shade in your greenhouse will maximise the sunlight available to your plants. Ensure you scrub down all of the glass, paying particular attention to any restricted areas where debris such as leaves will collect and prevent water escaping from the roof. Cleaning the inside of your greenhouse with a horticultural disinfectant will remove any pests and disease lingering in the greenhouse, and prevent the spread in future. It is therefore essential that when moving your plants back into the warmth of your greenhouse, that you check them thoroughly for pests so you are not re-infecting your clean greenhouse.

Throughout the winter months, wash out pots and seed trays ready for spring sowing and planting. Don’t forget that you can still sow plenty of vegetables to grow in winter. Take a look at our ‘Top 10 vegetables to grow over winter‘ article.

Greenhouse heating

Greenhouse heaters will protect your tender plants from becoming a frosted, soggy mush, and keep your young plants snug and warm until spring. Heating your greenhouse will open up a whole new world of winter gardening!

For now, here are some top tips on insulating your greenhouse;

  1. Insulate with bubble wrap – A layer of bubble wrap clipped to the inside of your greenhouse frame will reduce heat loss and block icy winter draughts.
  1. Only heat the area that you need to – Heating a large greenhouse can be expensive and wasteful if you only have a few delicate plants.
  1. Don‘t forget to ventilate – One drawback of heating your greenhouse is the problem of increased humidity.
  1. Use horticultural fleece – On extra cold nights a layer or two of horticultural fleece will provide several degrees more protection to your plants without the need to turn up the thermostat.
  1. Use a thermometer – Invest in a good thermometer with maximum and minimum readings, and check it daily. By keeping an eye on the air temperature you will be able to use your greenhouse heater more efficiently and adjust it when necessary.

Don’t have a greenhouse? We have an extensive range of quality greenhouses online which will be a perfect addition to your garden when overwintering young plants.

greenhouse winter

Our guest blogger Amanda Davies always keeps us updated on her greenhouse growing, why not have a read and pick up any tips, advice or ideas!

Winter vegetables – Harvest and grow

A gardener’s work is never done, so why shouldn’t we be rewarded with tasty crops all year round? When I think ahead, I think of cosy nights in front of the log burner with a cup of delicious hot chocolate topped with perfectly whipped cream, feet up and scouring the Thompson & Morgan (slightly biased) catalogue with pure delight and excitement. But what better way to top that than being able to harvest your own winter veg?

 

Whilst there are plenty of vegetables you can harvest over winter, you will need to be organised late spring/summer and already planting your winter vegetables outdoors. There are crops that you can sow and grow over winter for a much earlier crop than spring plantings, but I will come onto that in a bit.

winter vegetables

Over winter you can harvest mouth-watering parsnips, carrots, savoy cabbage and the vegetable that splits the nation, brussels sprouts! Parsnips will need to be sown from mid-spring to early summer as soon as the ground is workable. Carrots can be direct sown between March and July depending on your variety. Top Tip: If growing carrots, make sowings of mint or spring onion nearby this will deter carrot fly. If you haven’t already thought about your winter harvest then make note now so that next year you can be showing off your home grown veg at Christmas dinner.

 

What can you sow in winter?

Most winter vegetable plants are fully hardy and will cope well with cold winter weather, but if hard frosts threaten then you can always throw some fleece across them to provide some extra protection. Most can be planted or sown directly outdoors to ensure that your winter vegetable garden is fully stocked.

winter vegetablesGarlic – Growing garlic couldn’t be easier and there are lots of varieties to choose from for autumn planting. Like onions, they have a long growing season and won’t be ready to harvest until next summer, but it is well worth the wait!

Spring Onion – Winter hardy varieties of Spring onion make a tasty accompaniment to winter salads. They are a fairly quick growing crop and early autumn sowings should be ready to harvest by early spring. Spring Onion ‘White Lisbon’ is a popular and reliable winter hardy variety.

Asparagus – If you have plenty of space then why not plant a permanent asparagus bed this autumn.  Although asparagus beds take several years to establish, each asparagus crown can produce up to 25 spears per year and will continue cropping for 25 years. You will need to be patient with this crop as it will be 2 years before you can harvest them properly.

 

Wasabi rocket – This exclusive variety is perfect for windowsill growing. Wasabi Rocket can be harvested as a baby leaf within weeks of sowing or left to mature into a full leaf alongside your cut and come again salad varieties

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