November 29, 2019
The month with the shortest days and the longest nights, we can only hope that December’s daylight hours are cold and crisp with clear blue skies. Such days can be filled with warming winter digging and pruning, plus raking up and bagging the last of the fallen leaves.
September 30, 2019
Autumn has arrived, the summer flowers have faded and the leaves are starting to change colour. There’s still plenty to do in the garden so make the most of any dry sunny days.
October tasks include trimming hedges, pruning roses, planting bulbs, given the lawn a final cut and of course harvesting fruit and veg. Dead plants will need removing as will fallen leaves, weeds and other debris but please spare a thought for the wildlife and don’t make the garden too tidy. Birds, insects and amphibians will all need food and shelter if they are to survive the colder months ahead.
October is also a good month to start planning for next year. The Dobies 2020 catalogue is out now, so think about what worked well in the garden and what perhaps you need to change. Then browse the catalogue to see what delights you want to include in your 2020 garden.
Jobs to do in October
- Plant garlic, either directly in the ground or in pots, and keep the area weed-free as it grows
- Pull up and compost any remaining annuals. Replace them with winter and spring flowering pansies, wallflowers, bellis and primulas, not just in the garden but in containers too. Empty tubs are such a missed opportunity!
- Spring flowering bulbs are still available to buy and to plant so make sure you have enough for a blaze of colour next year. Tulips will be better for having had a late planting as it helps them to avoid fungal disease
- It’s time to bring inside any houseplants that have enjoyed summer in the garden. The sudden change in temperature and atmosphere may cause them to shed a few leaves but water sparingly and they’ll be fine
- October can bring strong winds so check your tree stakes are nice and firm and move anything flimsy undercover
- Improve the condition of your soil and add nutrients by sowing green manure – winter mix. This has to be one of the least labour intensive, most environmentally friendly and easiest method of improving next year’s crops
- This is a great time for planting or repairing a hedge. Take a look at our new range of hedging plants, many of which are grown at our own Devon nursery
There’s plenty to sow this month, including:
- Broad beans sown now will crop early, in May/June. Autumn sowings also increase your chances of avoiding blackfly. De Monica is a good early maturing variety
- Sweet peas – see below
- Herbs sown and grown in windowsill pots will help flavour all that scrumptious autumn and winter comfort food!
- Cut and come again salad leaves sown in containers for the greenhouse or windowsill will keep going all winter. Dobies Leaf Salad Winter Mix can even be sown outdoors until the end of the month
- Cauliflower seed Boris F1 (yes, it really is called Boris!)
For more ideas of seeds to sow this month visit our website.
From Plot to Plate
Invest in some horseradish roots and you will never again reach for a ready-made jar on the supermarket shelf. Horseradish is very easy to grow and if left to its own devices will spread and spread!
A perennial root vegetable horseradish looks a bit like parsnip, but the strong aroma identifies it clearly as a member of the mustard family. Most often served as a condiment, alongside roast beef, horseradish roots are also used as a medicine, for urinary tract infections, kidney stones, gout and other ailments.
Horseradish works well with:
Beef Beetroot Potato Onion
Garlic Cheese Dill Tarragon
If you haven’t grown horseradish before then why not give it a go in 2020?
Seed Catalogue 2020
The Dobies Seed Catalogue 2020 is now available, both online and in hardcopy format. With 164 pages, packed with inspiration, the catalogue includes seeds, plants, bulbs, fruit and equipment.
- 45 new vegetable seed varieties, including 27 new to our organic range
- 6 new flower seed varieties
- 10 new varieties to the Rob Smith Range
- British grown evergreen and deciduous hedging plants
View an online version of the catalogue or order a free copy here.
Autumn Sown Sweet Peas
October to early November is the ideal time for sowing sweet peas. The long growing period will enable strong root growth which will, in turn, produce vigorous top growth. Not only will autumn-sown sweet peas flower earlier than spring-sown, the plants will be stronger, the flower stems longer and the blooms more abundant. Choose your sweet pea seeds from the wide Dobies range.
A member of the Leguminosae family, the sweet pea is indeed a pea. The Greek name is Lathyrus odoratus meaning literally fragrant pea. Yet whereas peas are of course edible the sweet pea is poisonous and can cause convulsions, paralysis of the legs and unconsciousness. So, admire it but please don’t eat it!
Sweet pea seed sown now will result in plants with strong roots which will, in turn, result in vigorous and early flowering top growth. Growing a few different varieties will give you a mix of colour and stem length plus of course a fabulous scent.
Use a standard seed compost and sow 2 or 3 seeds together in deep pots. As they grow, don’t thin out but plant each grouping, when the time is right, as a small clump. Keep your sweet peas in a cold frame or cool greenhouse and pinch out the growing tips when the plants reach about 10cm, this will make the plants bushier and stronger. Plant out in mid-spring and then just wait for those fabulous flowers.
Offer of the Month
Winter/Spring Bedding Plants Our Selection
60 garden ready plugs for just £19.99
Perfect for winter and early spring displays, this lucky dip includes top quality polyanthus and primroses. The easy way to cheer up any space inside or out, this colourful selection will brighten your garden on the shortest of days.
Our garden ready plug plants (up to approx 9cm) have been grown on to the point where they are ready to plant in your garden – order yours today!
Note: image for illustration purposes only.
August 31, 2019
So, June was cold, July was boiling hot and August was, for many, a washout. I wonder what September has in store. Certainly, we could do with some sunshine and warmth to ripen those tomatoes, chillies and peppers! Judging by feedback received from customers, I’m not the only one with an abundance of green fruits. However, the experts here at Dobies assure me that all is not lost, they may be late but, with an improvement in the weather, those trusses ladened with green tomatoes will come good. Phew.
We hope you’ve enjoyed browsing and ordering from our Bulb catalogue. Packed not only with spring flowering bulbs but also winter bedding, perennials and vegetable plants. If you haven’t got around to placing your order yet, then don’t worry. We may have sold out of some of items but there’s still plenty left, both for ordering and for planting.
Jobs to Do in September
- Give your greenhouse a good clean, inside and out and remove any shading. Over the coming months your plants will need the maximum amount of light.
- Now is the time to start moving houseplants back indoors. They’ll have enjoyed being outside during the summer but as the nights start to cool down, they need to come in. First check the posts for pests, unless you want slugs and snails leaving glistening trails across your floors!
- Onion sets, Shallots and Garlic can all be planted from now until mid-November See below for some guidance.
- Lift your main crop potatoes and carrots, taking care not to slice or damage them. Don’t leave any tiny potatoes behind as they may harbour disease for next year.
- Continue to harvest tomatoes, chillies, peppers, aubergines and beans. Now is the time for making pickles and chutneys. Or perhaps dry them in the oven and store in oil?
- On a warm dry day harvest some herbs, such as mint, thyme and oregano and hang them indoors to dry for winter cooking
From Plot to Plate
Runner beans are the number one bean for most gardeners. Easy to grow and with attractive flowers they can hold their own at the back of any flower border, not needing to be confined to the veggie plot.
Dwarf French beans must come in a very close second. Just as easy to grow and requiring less space (not just vertically!) given plenty of feed they can crop from June through to the end of September. Well worth the price of a packet of seed!
Another benefit to French beans is that they don’t get stringy and so just need a quick top and tail. Simply steam or boil your beans, drain, add a mix of butter and olive oil plus seasoning and serve. Or forget the buttery oil and mix with oven roasted cherry tomatoes, crushed garlic and basil.
French beans are also perfect as a salad. Boil or steam them lightly, refresh them in cold water and then, whilst still slightly warm, apply your salad dressing of choice.
Beans have many friends but work particularly well with:
Onions Garlic Shallots Tomatoes Black olives
Capers Chilli Tarragon Basil Sage
Oregano Pancetta Lemon Lime Pasta
Early September is a good time for final outdoor sowings of leafy green veg such as spinach, rocket and winter lettuce. Sow Leaf Salad Winter Mix in succession on a windowsill and you’ll still be picking leaves when the ground outside is frozen.
If you don’t plan to grow any winter veg (really?) then give your soil a boost by sowing some green manure. Green Manure Winter Mix will act as a nitrogen fixer and lifter and will both loosen and aerate your soil. One pack will cover 10² and at just £1.99 must be one of the cheapest ways of improving your soil.
Summer Long Strawberries
Last Chance to Buy… Summer Long Strawberry Plants Collection
Now Only £14 for 12 x 9cm Potted Plants!
Our Summer Long Strawberry Collection has been a massive hit again this year. Not only have customers had a steady stream of delicious strawberries over the summer, their plants will also fruit into September and will continue to do so as long as the weather remains fair.
We still have a limited number of Collections available at the fantastic price of £14 for 12 x 9cm potted plants. Enjoy their fruits throughout September and then protect over the winter months to benefit from stronger, well developed plants and even bigger crops next year!
Don’t forget to protect your Strawberry Plants over winter
Looking to protect your Strawberry Plants over the winter? Take advantage of our Half Price and 3 For 2 Offer on Polythene Tunnels. Easy to erect and simple to store in spring, they are fantastic value for money!
Tips for Planting Spring Bulbs
The standard rule it to plant your bulbs at least twice as deep as their height. So, a 5cm bulb will do best planted at a depth of at least 10cm. The exception being tulip bulbs but we’re getting ahead of ourselves as tulips don’t like to be planted until November.
Plant your bulbs in plastic pots that will in turn fit inside your larger, more attractive containers. Then, when they’ve finished flowering, they can be lifted out, leaving the container ready for summer planting and popped in a corner somewhere to dieback naturally.
When planting in deep containers, try layering your bulbs to create to bulb lasagne. Start with a layer of compost and then space out the largest bulbs, add another layer of compost and then the next sized bulbs. Repeat until you have the placed the smallest bulbs at the top and covered with a layer of compost. Even just 2 layers will give good flowering impact.
Bulbs don’t like to have damp bottoms (does anyone?) so make sure pots and containers have plenty of drainage holes.
Planting Direct in the Garden
When planting direct go for a natural look as opposed to uniform rows. The best way of achieving this is to gently roll a handful of bulbs over the soil and plant where they land. Choose a well-drained spot where the soil is rich with hummus.
Make planting easy and invest in a bulb planting tool. Both long and short handled versions are available. A bonus being that the correct planting depths are clearly marked.
If planting in a lawn remember that bulb foliage needs to be left to die down naturally. This will delay your lawn mowing activity so perhaps choose a spot where a clump of longer grass mixed with dying bulb foliage won’t look too bad. Alternatively, go ahead and mow, replacing the bulbs in the autumn.
Allowing bulbs to self-seed beneath trees and amongst shrubs means they will naturalise into drifts of stunning colour. Choose from cyclamen, snowdrops, crocus, anemone, fritillaria and daffodil.
To avoid digging the bulbs up by accident or worse, spearing them with a fork, do mark where they are planted.
Offer Of The Month:
Autumn Winter Bedding – Lucky Dip
270 Extra Value Plugs for £19.99 – Less Than 8p Per Plug Plant!
Create beds, borders and pots full of colour with a selection of some of our favourite winter bedding plants. These Extra Value Plug Plants are delivered at the perfect time to pot up and grow indoors or under cover for the first few weeks, so they’re well established before winter and will put on your best ever show!
Please note: Image for illustration purposes only.
July 30, 2019
Gardening is all about planning and August is when we truly get to reap what we sow.
After all the effort put into the garden earlier in the year, now is when we gather cut flowers for the house and enjoy feasts of homegrown fruit, veg and herbs. During August we get to sit out and enjoy what we have created – it makes those blisters all worthwhile!
August is a time of plenty and when it comes to tomatoes, beans, peppers, chillies, cucumbers and of course courgettes, it is often a time of glut. So, wash out those preserving pans and Kilner jars and start to pickle! Preserving food was once essential if you were to survive the winter months when fresh food was scarce. That pressure no longer exists but many of us still prefer to make our own preserves rather than buying ones stuffed with additives.
The phenomenal rise in the popularity of gin means that many of us will be making our own this month. By which I mean buying bottles of plain dry gin (at hopefully discounted prices!) and jazzing it up with the addition of garden produce. Cucumber gin is a great favourite and so very simple.
- Peel a couple of cucumbers, slice them in half horizontally and scoop out the seeds
- Roughly chop the cucumber and pop it in a Kilner jar with the gin
- After a week spent lurking in a cool dark cupboard your gin is ready for bottling
Oh, and don’t through away the cucumber once you’ve strained it off – freeze it in a bag and plop a couple of chunks into your gin, in place of ice cubes. Delicious.
Jobs to Do
No heavy-duty jobs this month, just some gentle pottering:
- Pruning your wisteria in August will not only tidy it up but will also divert energy away from producing tendrils and into producing flower buds for next year
- Order bedding plants to brighten your autumn/winter garden
- Prune any rambling roses that have finished flowering
- Keep an eye on the level of water in your pond and top it up when necessary. This will also help to oxygenate the water
- Water, feed and deadhead. Water, feed and deadhead. And keep repeating
- Some hardy annuals can be sown now, direct in their flowering positions meaning early flowers next spring/summer
- Salad leaves can be sown this month – in fact, keep sowing and you’ll be eating homegrown salad all year round
2019 Bulb Catalogue
Our 2019 Bulb Catalogue will be available latest this month! Featuring autumn and spring-flowering bulbs, the catalogue also includes winter bedding, perennials, fruit and veg. Plus some fantastic offers of course!
Our buyers have travelled to Holland to hand-select our exciting new bulb range for 2019 – many of which feature in our fantastic £5 Bulb Offer!
Pick & Mix Bulbs – £5 Per Pack
Create your own creative colour themes with bulbs for just £5 per pack when you buy any 6 or more bulbs packs from the offer selection. Includes new varieties such as Narcissus Polar Ice, Tulip Spring Green, Iris Germanica, Allium Pink Jewel and more! Browse and buy online.
Don’t miss our fantastic competition to win a trip for 2 to see the Dutch bulb fields in Keukenhof! See page 2 of our catalogue for details.
If you’ve bought bulbs from us in the past, then a catalogue will be sent to you automatically. Otherwise please take a look at the online version or order your free print copy online.
August means sweet peas, both in the garden adorning fences and obelisks and in the home, filling vases, jugs and jars. A member of the Leguminosae family, the sweet pea is indeed a pea. The Greek name is Lathyrus odoratus meaning literally fragrant pea. Yet whereas peas are of course edible the sweet pea is poisonous and can cause convulsions, paralysis of the legs and unconsciousness.
Discovered in Sicily in the 1690s by a Franciscan monk, Brother Franciscus Cupani, the original sweet pea was a small fairly insignificant flower but with a beautiful strong perfume. Keen to share his find, Brother Cupani sent seeds to various breeders across the world. Some reached Dr Robert Uvedale in the UK who went on to develop several different forms including the well-known Cupani and Painted Lady.
Over the years, the number of species increased with perhaps one of the most famous being the Spencer type, which was a mutation discovered naturally growing in the gardens of the Earl of Spencer.
The popularity of sweet peas continued to grow and by the early 20th century reached almost fever pitch with shows being dedicated to this single cultivar and large sums of money being won as prizes.
Today there are approximately 150 species of sweet pea in a wide spectrum of colour, some with amazing perfume, some with large flowers and some with long straight stems designed specifically for cutting. There is even a sweet pee that will happily cascade down from hanging baskets.
Sweet peas are easy to grow and, providing the soil is rich, will need little maintenance. During dry spells water regularly and feed fortnightly from mid-summer onwards as this will help them to flower for longer.
The key thing with sweet peas is to stop them from forming seed pods and the best way to do this is to keep picking the blooms! Remove any seed pods that you miss and pick the blooms every other day. This way your plants will just keep on flowering and your house will smell absolutely gorgeous!
From Plot to Pot
I still remember the first time I ate sweetcorn straight from the garden. Super sweet and juicy, having had no time for the sugars to turn into starch, it was like nothing I’d ever bought from the market. Thankfully, modern super sweet varieties, such as Sweetie Pie F1 and Vanilla Sweet, have been developed to retain their sweetness for longer, but why wait?
Planted in blocks, rather than rows, sweetcorn is a fairly space-efficient crop. When the tassels have gone brown and a kernel pierced with a fingernail produces a creamy liquid, then the time has come to harvest and enjoy your sweetcorn.
The simplest, and possibly the best way to enjoy your homegrown sweetcorn is to place the cobs directly on the BBQ, having first soaked them in water for a few minutes. The kernels inside will gently steam and when ready you can peel back the husks (careful you don’t burn your fingers!) and tuck in, using them as a handle.
Other methods of cooking will require you to remove the husks first and some will ask that you also cut the kernels off the cob or to cut the cob in half. Any leftover cobs will be gratefully finished off by yours or your neighbour’s chickens!
Sweetcorn can be boiled, steamed, roasted, braised or grilled. Just remember to be generous with the butter.
Sweetcorn’s friends are:
Butter – lots Chilli Chilli sauce Lemon Lime
Tomato Onion Courgette Runner beans French beans
Celery Peppers Mushrooms Basil Parsley
Thyme Chives Bacon Ham Chicken
Seeds to Sow in August
Sow under cover:
- Spring cabbage
- Pak Choi
- Salad leaves
- Pak Choi
Many a vegetable comes into its own at this time of year when the weather can be a little cooler. If you plan carefully, the veg you sow this month will grow into delicious autumn dinner ingredients for the family. Buy your seeds to sow in August here.
Plants of the Month
Our Plants of the Month for August are these three cracking cruciferous vegetables, which are available in packs of value plugs from £6.99-£8.99!
Cauliflower Plants – Sapporo
Plant Sapporo in autumn for a late spring crop and look forward to a harvest of tasty cauliflower in April/May. This variety is extremely productive with excellent disease resistance. Its leaves will wrap around the cauliflower to protect it from sunlight in the summer and frost in the winter, keeping the cauliflower with a uniform pure white colour.
Cabbage Plants – F1 Winterjewel
Who says you can’t keep growing in your garden during winter?
Winterjewel displays exceptional winter hardiness and resistance to bolting, so you can look forward to delicious spring greens and compact 8oz heads. Lovely veg to grow during the winter and harvest in the spring.
Broccoli Plants – F1 Stromboli
There’s nothing more satisfying than serving up a plate of winter wellness from your own garden. Stromboli is extremely productive broccoli, so you can look forward to long, tasty florets harvested March-April next year.
Order your plugs today and you’ll be harvesting creamy cauliflowers, brilliant broccoli and sensational spring greens next March-May!
July 1, 2019
Welcome to our July Newsletter
Well, what happened to flaming June? Despite the past few days, it’s been a dreadful June for many of us although it did make a bit more effort towards the end. Not just wet but also chilly and our poor plants have been sitting with damp cold bottoms and no motivation to grow. The one positive being that we haven’t needed to spend much time watering. We can only hope for better things in July, so keep those fingers and toes tightly crossed.
July is when we (hopefully) get to eat the edibles that we’ve grown and to fill our vases with colourful blooms. True satisfaction and pleasure can be gained from a delicious meal of homegrown fruit and veg eaten outside in a well looked after garden with a vase of sweet smelling, freshly picked annuals adorning the table.
Jobs for July
- Give sweetcorn a gentle shake to help spread the pollen
- Remove duckweed from ponds and keep the water level topped up. It’s surprising how much water will evaporate during a sunny spell
- Tie in climbers and stake dahlias and other tall plants to prevent them flopping
- Maintain a consistent watering and feeding regime, remembering that different varieties of plants will have different needs and that plants growing in pots will need a little extra
- Keep up the fight against slugs, snails and other pests. Encourage birds and other wildlife into the garden and they’ll lend their support
- It can get very hot in the greenhouse, so leave the door and vents open and consider applying shading paint or similar. Damping down the floor with a hose will help to reduce the temperature and increase humidity
- Pick cucumbers as soon as they’ve reached the right size for the variety and are still nice and firm. A slice of cucumber in a G&T makes a lovely change to the traditional lemon
- Keep picking courgettes to encourage the plant to keep producing. Share with friends and neighbours until they beg you to stop!
- Carefully lift and then dry and store your garlic. If you fancy plaiting them, leave the stalks until they are dry but not brittle
- Sorry, but early this month you will need to stop harvesting rhubarb. Apply a layer of mulch or compost and leave the crowns to recover ready for next year
As you harvest your new potatoes, peas, garlic and beans you will be creating space for new crops. Seeds to sow in July include:
From Plot to Plate
Babies are apparently left under gooseberry bushes, so watch out for one when you go to pick your crop this month. Also remember to wear gloves, as they can be pretty spikey – the gooseberry plants, not the babies.
Low maintenance and long-lived, it is strange that gooseberries aren’t more popular. They are hardy, fairly disease resistant and will grow happily in any soil. And of course, the real joy is gained from the gorgeously sweet/sour fruits that you will be picking and eating this month. Providing that the blackbirds don’t get there first!
To keep your gooseberry plants happy, plant them in a sunny, well-drained spot. They will welcome a feed in spring and an application of mulch. Apart from that, they will just need a drink in dry weather, a tidy up in late July/early August and a prune when dormant.
Traditional gooseberry plants were fairly sprawling and space hungry, which may account for their lapse in popularity, but modern varieties can be trained as standards or cordons. These space-saving growing methods mean that gooseberry plants can have a place in most gardens.
Gooseberry fool, gooseberry crumble and gooseberry pie are oldies but goodies. However, gooseberries can also be enjoyed in many other ways. Focaccia bread studded with gooseberries prior to baking makes a wonderful sweetish partner to strong cheese. The sweet red desert varieties are lovely eaten raw, as you would grapes.
The flavours of elderflower and gooseberry work amazingly well together. So, when you are cooking with gooseberries, splash some of that fabulous homemade elderflower cordial in and it will make the dish even tastier.
Gooseberries work well with:
Lemon Blueberry Cream Yoghurt Cinnamon Ginger
Saffron Honey Mackerel Almonds Hazelnuts Elderflower
Now is a good time to apply some fresh compost to any pots containing tomato plants. This will add much-needed nutrients and encourage new roots. To get the most from your plants, do keep your watering consistent and feed weekly with high potash fertiliser. Keep removing side-shoots from cordon tomatoes. Most importantly, pick and enjoy!
It’s difficult to think anything but pleasant thoughts while eating a homegrown tomato.”
– Lewis Grizzard
Offer of the Month
F1 Summerlast: 3 x 2-litre potted plants for £15!
Or 1 x 2-litre potted plant for £7.99
A new blight-resistant tomato that everyone can grow!
- Perfectly sized for patios
- Crops throughout the summer and into autumn
- Produces a good crop of large cherry-sized fruit
- Sweet fruits – great to snack on or for salads
- Stay green trait, so their leaves won’t turn yellow
Buy your F1 Summerlast plants while stocks last!
Understandably, there is a great interest in bees and other insects right now, with huge concern about the drastic reduction in insect life. Who remembers having to regularly clear the car windscreen of splattered insects? An unpleasant task that is now rarely (if ever) required.
Whilst doing what we can to encourage and help insects in our gardens, let’s not forget the other wildlife. Birds, frogs, toads and hedgehogs are all the gardener’s friend, as is the much over-looked worm.
There are several thousand different kinds of worm but those we see most often in our gardens are segmented earthworms. The richer your soil is in organic matter, the more worms you will have and they will tunnel hard, mixing and improving the soil whilst munching on live and decaying vegetation and turning it into hummus.
- There are many different species of earthworms and they range in size from 10mm to 3m!
- Worms create their tunnels by taking some of the soil into their bodies, pushing through and then secreting that soil as worm casts on the surface
- To help them move easily through their soil tunnels, worms secrete a slime and this slime contains and releases useful nitrogen
- Being an underground creature, worms like the dark. And although they don’t have eyes, worms are sensitive to light – if they cannot escape it, bright light will paralyse them
- If their skin dries out, worms will die, so they prefer damp soil. However, if the soil becomes waterlogged worms will drown. This is why, when it rains heavily, they push up to the surface. This is also why birds peck and stamp at the soil surface, to simulate rain – the worms pop up and are promptly eaten!
- Worms’ constant tunnelling not only mixes the soil but also increases the amount of air and water in the soil, thus improving it
- Most earthworms in our gardens live for 2 to 4 years but, under controlled conditions, they can live as long as 8 years
- Earthworms exist on every continent apart from Antarctica
How About a Wormery?
If you are keen to compost your kitchen waste, how about investing in a wormery? They are environmentally friendly and a great way to produce your own fertiliser and liquid feed. For your wormery, you’ll need brandling or red worms (not earthworms). These little chaps are brilliant at quickly turning green matter into compost and so are perfect for a worm city.