This week a copy of the 1975 Dobies Seed catalogue landed on my desk. Found by someone clearing the home of a sadly deceased relative. Much of our archive material was lost when we moved from Llangollen to Torquay so we are always grateful to receive copies of old catalogues and the like.
Interestingly, the cost of a packet of seed in 1975 ranged from 7p to 38p with much of the veg also being available to buy by the ounce.

So, what seeds were we sowing back in 1975? Many of the same flowers and vegetables that we are still growing today but with some interesting differences and similarities:

Dobies Greenhouse Flower Seeds
Today many of us use our greenhouses for overwintering tender plants and for seed sowing in spring followed by indoor vegetables such as peppers, aubergines, etc. Whereas some people do still grow specific greenhouse plants this has certainly reduced.
The 1975 Dobies Seed Catalogue dedicated 10 pages to listing flower seeds specifically for the greenhouse. These included cactus, cineraria, coleus, gloxinia and African violets.
Dobies Fragrant & Prizewinning Sweet Peas
Sweet peas remain ever popular but in 1975 we offered 60 different varieties, considerably more than the 15 we offer today. Many of those older varieties simply no longer exist. Sweet Pea Winston Churchill has however stood the test of time and rightfully so with its “fine bright crimson, frilled and fluted” flowers.
Hardy & Half-Hardy Flower Seeds
So many of what we grew then we still grow now. OK so we no longer plant in neat rows but we still love begonias, calendulas, sunflowers, carnations and dahlias. Interesting in 1975 we offered a choice of 24 African and 25 French marigolds. They were an important part of formal bedding displays of the time.
Look at our current range and you will see that we are a stockist for Halls Greenhouses. Look in our 1975 catalogue and what do you find? Hall greenhouses. We love their quality and they must like something about us to have worked in partnership for over 42 years!
Dobies Dependable Vegetable Seeds
Our range of veg seed was far smaller back in 1975. Smaller and with fewer types of vegetable. You could choose from 24 varieties of peas, 24 of carrot and 19 of lettuce. However, you wouldn’t find courgettes, flowersprout, chicory, chilli, cornichon, kohl rabi, pak choi and many others. There most were not any cucamelon, salsify, samphire or any of the many other slightly more unusual veg that today’s customers so enjoy growing.

Quality – Then and Now

One thing that has remained constant is our quality. Back in 1975 we made the following statement and it still holds true today:
“The seed you will hold in the palm of your hand and trickle between your fingers into the earth will have passed through many complicated procedures and exacting tests since it ripened on the parent plant.
All these processes of harvesting, cleaning, testing and re-testing both for purity and vitality: storage and finally packing, are subject to the most careful quality control to ensure that seed reaches you in prime condition and should grow into the fine vegetables or flowers you have chosen to raise.
Like you, many of our highly qualified staff are themselves gardeners. We understand the amount of care you take in planning and preparing your own garden and do all we can to make certain you will be pleased and satisfied with the results you obtain from our seed.”

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