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Dobies December newsletter header

December Newsletter

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.

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Dobies November Newsletter Header

November Newsletter

The focus for the November garden is protection. Cold weather has arrived, and tender plants need to be snug in the greenhouse with those too large to move being cloaked in protective fleece. Move containers to shelter against house walls and make sure that any staked plants are nice and secure against wind rock. Use fleece and cloches to protect veg plants such as chard and swede against frost and possible snow.

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Dobies October 2019 newsletter

October Newsletter

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


October Sowings

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.

September Newsletter

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


September Sowings

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.

Container Planting

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!

Autumn/Winter Bedding Plants Lucky Dip

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.

dobies april newsletter header

April Newsletter

Spring is finally here. The time for us to really start putting plans into action so that the wonderful summer garden we hold in our heads can become a reality. The clocks have sprung forward, the days are lengthening, and the soil is warming.

By now most of us will have lined our windowsills with trays full of seedlings. But if you haven’t started sowing yet then it’s not too late. Better to start late than too early and seeds sown now will quickly catch up. Read below for guidance on sowing hardy annuals direct in your garden.

The big news from Dobies this month is the launch of our 2019 Summer Garden Planner catalogue. This bumper edition is four catalogues in one and includes everything you need to make your 2019 garden/allotment both beautiful and bountiful. Rob Smith’s Heritage Veg range includes some fantastic varieties to choose from, including the Beetroot Rouge Crapaudine that caused such a stir last year on MasterChef. In addition to new and old veg plant varieties the catalogue has a fabulous range of flower plants, fruit and garden equipment. Click here to order your catalogue!

Even a bumper catalogue cannot hold our full range, for example, online you will find we offer over 900 shrubs together with many more items that we simply couldn’t squeeze into the catalogue. Happy shopping!

dobies gardening jobs to do for april
  • Sweet peas can be sown direct this month. No garden should be without some of these perfumed beauties.
  • Many seeds can be sown direct this month, but first check that your soil has warmed up. Sowing dates shown on seed packets are for guidance only and need to be adapted to local weather conditions.
  • If your sage is looking straggly then rejuvenate it by cutting to just above ground level. This will encourage fresh new shoots that will grow into a neater looking plant.
  • Late frost will kill off fruit blossom so keep some fleece handy. But do remember to remove it to allow pollinating insects access.
  • This is the last month for ordering bare root fruit trees so if you want to benefit from our “Buy a single tree for £22, add a 2nd for just £11” offer then you’d better be quick
  • Seedlings in the greenhouse may struggle on sunny days so give them some shading. Carefully laying newspaper on them will do the trick.
  • Put supports in place for peas and beans, ready for planting out.
  • Plug plants potted on now and kept in the greenhouse will put on a glorious display this summer. Dobies’ colour themed collections are a perfect, and easy, way to fill your tubs and hanging baskets with colour.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is dobies-header-plot.jpg

Most gardeners are aware of the term “the hungry gap” and many try to avoid it each year but somehow end up getting caught out. The hungry gap is that period in early spring when the veg patch is almost devoid of anything to harvest. By April many stored and over-wintered cops are running low yet it’s still far too early for summer crops.

Brassicas are one of the few veggies holding their own in the April garden. Amongst brassicas purple sprouting broccoli (PSB) is king, the asparagus of early spring. Even the pickiest of children can be persuaded to eat PSB, especially when it’s been grilled and dipped in a lovely soft-boiled or poached egg.

Only harvest as much PSB as you wish to eat although it does store well in a paper bag, popped in the fridge. When cooking you need to do it fast as that will keep the lush purple colour. So, grill, stir-fry, lightly steam, roast or griddle but please, never over boil!

Best mates to PSB include:

Garlic                     Tomatoes            Chillies                  Pasta                     Bacon                    Pancetta

Lemon                  Cheese                 Eggs                       Butter                   Anchovies           Capers

Walnuts               Almonds              Crab                       Mustard               Ginger                  Parsley

Sowing Hardy Annuals

Hardy annuals are easy to grow and to look after, are great in tubs, baskets or sown direct and will flower within just a few weeks. What’s not to like?

Annual weeds starting to appear is a good indication that conditions are right to sow your Dobies hardy annual seeds. This is usually from the end of April to mid-May but does of course depend on where you live and on what sort of spring we’re having, the timings given on seed packets are for guidance only. The soil needs to be warm enough to allow and encourage the seeds to germinate and cold frosty nights need to be a thing of the past. If you are happy to sit out in the evening with a cup of tea or glass of wine, then the chances are that the time for sowing hardy annuals has arrived.

Pick an open sunny site and give it a good hoe to remove any weeds. Tread to firm the soil and rake it over so the surface is a fine crumb. Hardy annuals do best on poor soil so resist the temptation to add fertiliser.

If you are going to sow several varieties of hardy annuals, then it’s a good idea to mark out their designated areas using sand or grit. Create drifts of semi-circles or just lovely sweeping curves. Using a hoe create shallow drifts, going in different directions within each marked area. This means that although you will in effect be growing in rows the blooms will not look at all regimented. Rather than creating drills you could just scatter the seed, but this will make both weeding and thinning that much harder. With drills you know that anything growing outside of the row is a weed and needs removing.

The depth of the drill depends on the size of the seed and advice is probably given on the seed packet. As a rule, the drill needs to be twice the depth of the seed. If the soil is dry, then water before sowing.

Sow the seed thinly and then carefully rake the soil back over the drill. Now wait for the seedlings to appear. Once they have formed their first set of true leaves thin them out to about 1 seed every 4cm, then as they grow thin them to a spacing of 9cm to 14cm. For exact spacing for each variety refer to the seed packet.

Within just a few weeks you’ll be enjoying a blaze of colour as will visiting bees, butterflies and other beneficial insects. And all for just a few pounds spent on Dobies seeds and a few hours of enjoyable gardening. Marvellous!

Saved from Extinction – Tomato “Sutton”

Managed by the wonderful charity Garden Organic, the Heritage Seed Library (HSL) exists to conserve vegetable varieties that are not widely available and currently holds about 800 varieties. These rare varieties are maintained by HSL for future generations to enjoy.

tomato sutton dobies newsletter

Working closely with the HSL Dobies provide seed on rare varieties each year and last year we produced enough Tomato Sutton seed to now be able to offer a limited number of plants to our customers. For the full, interesting story visit https://www.gardenorganic.org.uk/news/back-brink

Tomato Sutton produces fruits that are ivory to pale yellow in colour and fresh and fruity in taste. A beefsteak type, Tomato Sutton is best grown in the greenhouse as a cordon. The plants are very productive, bearing slightly flattened fruits, perfect for salads and sandwiches.

Primrose Day – 19th April

This year, Good Friday is also Primrose Day, a useful/useless fact to drop into the village quiz. Once recognised nationally, the 19th April is now just another date on the calendar that bears little or no significance, unless like this year it clashes with Easter.

The primrose is the prima rosa of the year and belongs to the primula family of which there are roughly 1,000 varieties. The one we see at this time of year, adorning banks, verges and hedgerows across the country is the common primrose. An insignificant name for a lovely little plant with its soft yellow flowers rising on hairy stems from tough leathery leaves.

primrose april dobies newsletter

The 19th April 1881 was the day on which Queen Victoria’s favourite prime minister, Benjamin Disraeli, died. Queen Victoria sent a wreath of yellow primroses with a note referring to them being “his favourite flowers.”  Naturally it was assumed that she was referring to the primrose being Disraeli’s favourite flower, but it was later believed that she had in fact been referring to her beloved Prince Albert. Nonetheless Primrose Day was formed, and wreaths of primroses were placed on Disraeli’s monument for many years.

Not only does the common primrose have its own day it also has its own county! In 2002 the organisation Plantlife led a nationwide campaign to identify and designate a native wildflower to each county. The people of Devon voted for and elected the primrose and so it is of special significance to all of us here at Dobies. Being based in Paignton, Devon, we are lucky enough to have the lovely primrose as our county flower.

If you don’t already have primroses growing in your garden, then it’s too late for this year but perhaps make a note for next? Preferring cool semi-shaded areas of the garden these plants are ideal for woodland edges, banks and for growing under hedgerows. In a well-drained yet moist soil primroses will flower year on year and will readily self-seed and naturalise.

Why not surprise your friends and neighbours by wearing a primrose buttonhole in honour of Primrose Day? Queen Victoria would be amused.

“And all England, so they say,

Yearly blooms on Primrose Day.”

Henry Cuyler Bunner

Calling all Bee Keepers

Our sister company, National Bee Supplies, has just launched a new catalogue offering everything needed by both new and experienced bee keepers. The catalogue has a complete range of beekeeping equipment, including starter kits, replacement frames, clothing, feed and a wide range of bee friendly seeds and plants. National Bee Supplies is also proud to now offer sterilised wax foundation, free from all known pathogens and so protecting the hive and the bees.

For full details and to request a catalogue please visit National Bee Supplies.

Real Sunflower Lamps

Our team of horti experts travel the globe all year round and today, have made an exciting discovery in Germany which we’re thrilled to be sharing with the gardening nation here in the UK. It’s the finding of varieties of flowers that are so phosphorescent they give sufficient light to read by.

real sunflower lamps

Under proper conditions the flowers of the clematis glow like stars, while sunflowers, if correctly nurtured, make it quite possible to read a newspaper by their unaided light.

We can’t say too much at the moment, but it could be a combination of bio luminescent marine bacteria with a plant genus breeding programme to create varieties so phosphorescent that they appear to glow.

Click here to order your Sunflower Lamps today.

Plant of the Month

To welcome in Spring, April’s Plants of the Month give you a great excuse to get out into the garden and sunshine. For a limited period, we’re offering a range of fantastic 5 litre potted shrubs, with prices starting from just £12.99 each. That’s a 5 litre plant for the price of a 3 litre plant, which means your shrubs will be more mature when reaching your door. Stocks are limited so be quick as when they’re gone, they’re gone!

suttons april newsletter shrub offer

Click here to view our selection and order yours while stocks last.