March Newsletter

It might not feel like it just yet, but spring has arrived and life in our gardens is a-stirring. The days are lengthening and the sun strengthening, drying out and warming up the soil ready for planting. Do take advantage of good weather but don’t get carried away. March can still deliver plenty of frost even if the dreaded “Beast From The East” is now behind us.

Unfortunately, the recent adverse weather has also affected our ability to send this month’s Newsletter on time and we apologise sincerely for the delay. Like much of the country, Devon was also covered by a thick blanket of snow causing us to be snowed out for 2 days and the discovery of a collapsed polytunnel when we returned to work after the big thaw. See below for the full story of our “Snow Orphan” Senetti Plants.

The latest Dobies catalogue offers a wide range from half price bumper bedding collections to perennials, summer bulbs, grafted and non-grafted veg plants, potatoes, onions and more. Do let us know if your Spring Planner 2018 catalogue hasn’t arrived and we’ll rush one to you. You won’t want to miss out on the new and exclusive Tomato Sugar Plum Raisin F1 grafted plants. Delicious fresh or left to dry on the vine!

March sees the start of the new gardening year and there’s no shortage of jobs to be done. Keep an eye on the weather and don’t be tempted to sow or plant too soon. There’s plenty of time!

  • On warmer days open up the greenhouse. Not only will this allow essential pollinating insects access it will also reduce the risk of fungal disease
  • Slugs and snails will be out and about this month looking for something on which to munch. The sad decline in hedgehog numbers has been much reported lately with slug pellets being given as one of the reasons so instead why not try Advanced Slug Killer – harmless to birds and hedgehogs. But not to slugs!
  • Get on top of weeds now before they take hold. It will make your life easier later in the year.
  • During a dry spell set the mower blades high and give the grass its first cut of the year
  • Finish planting new fruit trees and give existing ones a mulch
  • Plant up any over-wintered dahlia tubers or treat yourself to some new ones from the Dobies range
  • Deadhead faded daffodil flowers as this will strengthen them for next year, but the leaves should be left for about another 6 weeks
  • Plant chitted early potatoes now, either direct in the ground or in large containers, gradually adding more compost as the shoots rise

Blight Resistant Tomatoes

Crimson Crush tomatoes have been a tremendous success and have enabled many Dobies customers to once again grow tomatoes outdoors with confidence. Quite simply they display the best tolerance to late blight disease that we’ve ever seen.

Tomato crimson crush

For 2018 Dobies are adding the first dwarf, blight resistant tomato to our range! Tomato F1 Summerlast is the perfect size for container growing, only needing a 25cm pot. Cropping throughout summer and into autumn, Summerlast produces cherry-sized fruits that are sweeter than other dwarf varieties. Well worth a try!

Tomato summerlast

“Snow Orphan” Senetti Plants

After the “Beast From The East” had passed and we were able return to the Dobies offices and nurseries, we discovered that the sheer weight of snow caused one of our polytunnels to collapse.

damaged polytunnel

The damaged polytunnel had been home to some stunning Senetti plants which we had originally planned to launch as special promotion this Easter. However, we now need to quickly find them a new home and are offering at an extra special promotional price of 4 for just £15 while stocks last.

Protect the buds from frost over the coming weeks and by Easter these wonderful Senetti plants will be a mass of vibrant, almost iridescent blues, pinks and purples that will continue throughout the summer.


Purple sprouting broccoli (PSB) must be one of the star foods of March. Packing more flavour than Calabrese PSB is hardy, prolific and delicious. Whereas most varieties are at their best in March the Dobies Purple Sprouting Continuity Mix means you’ll be harvesting from October to April!

purple sprouting broccoli

As delicate as asparagus, PSB needs little cooking. Boil, steam, stir-fry, roast or griddle but do none for very long! The most tender shoots will also work well in a winter salad.

Flavours that work well with PSB are:

Garlic          Chilli                Tomato          Almonds          Goat’s Cheese          Lemon
Eggs            Ginger              Bacon           Capers              Anchovies                Shallots
Pasta           Pancetta          Crab             Quiche              Walnuts                    Mozzarella

Organic Gardening

Last year the charity Garden Organic asked Dobies to become their new partner for providing seeds, plants and garden equipment to their members and supporters. Their objective was not only to provide a wider range of products to customers but also to help encourage Dobies to adopt more organic and sustainable practises.

Since starting to work with Garden Organic last autumn, Dobies have achieved organic accreditation for the production of plug plants in our Yorkshire nursery and have committed to the eradication of the use of any neonicotinoid pesticides this spring at all our nurseries. Instead, we will be using organic methods of control for all pests and diseases.

This new partnership opens up a whole new range of products to Dobies customers. Since 1894 we’ve been supplying quality products at a “Down to Earth” price and this now includes a wide organic range. Do let us know if you’d like to receive a copy of The Organic Gardening Catalogue, available from 14th March 2018. Alternatively, visit

Easter Eggs

Not all Easter eggs are chocolate – spring is springing and hens are laying! If you are looking to increase your flock, then Dobies can supply fertilised eggs for home hatching. The eggs will need a constant temperature, supplied by either a broody hen or an incubator, and will take around 21 days to hatch. We supply a range of incubators plus a choice of bantam or chicken eggs, delivered to your door.

Spring Shows

Is your gardening club or allotment association about to hold a spring show? If so, the Dobies Show Stationery will save you an army of volunteers and mountain of stress. Contact us for details.

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