Category Archives: Vegetables


Monty Don Says There are “Not Enough Gardens” | Longacres Garden Centre

Brits are not doing enough gardening; at least that is the sentiment of renowned English television presenter, gardener, writer and speaker Montagu Denis Wyatt “Monty” Don.

More Green Opportunities

Monty Don, the current host of the BBC television series Gardeners’ World, said that many young people are being turned off by gardening because they can no longer pay for homes with green spaces. Don said it is a “tragedy” that not enough young people are learning gardening skills. He is concerned that spiralling house prices and lack of space could mean people do not have opportunities to get green fingered.

“My generation grew up expecting some sort of ownership and access to gardens. I had my first home aged 26 and started growing things then. My three kids are in their 20’s and none of them rent or own homes with gardens,” the BBC host told Radio Times magazine, as quoted in a report in— the online edition of The Daily Mirror.  “A generation is growing up with no access to green space. There’s an increased remoteness about it all. Gardens can reach into life in a way that’s beyond horticulture. It’s about how we choose to live our lives and how younger people engage with them.”  He added, “We’ve lost so many of our allotments and it’s a tragedy. They’re increasingly important as young people have less access to gardens. Don, who is returning as the host of this year’s Chelsea Flower Show, explained gardens are “part of our
way of life and we can’t keep building on them. Councils are selling them off and say they’ll find
allotment space somewhere else but this is missing the point.”

Gardening the Easy Way

We stand behind Don on this issue. Gardening should be something that everyone does. Experts are even saying gardening is key to longer life. We’ve always encouraged everyone to have some sort of green patch in their home, even if it’s just a few potted plants by the windowsill or by the front garden. We have a range of plants and other products that make gardening easy. You can get the seed, the pots, and the feeds to give your plant a boost all in one convenient centre.

Longacres Garden Centre is one with horticulturists and gardeners in encouraging everyone to grab a shovel, dig in, and start planting. Get in touch with us today and we’ll be happy to provide you with any gardening products you need.

Planting peas in the Longacres garden

Plant your pea plants now for a great early harvest!

Peas are one of the more hardier vegetable plants that you can get hold of or grow. You can sow pea seeds in Autumn – overwintering them in a greenhouse till spring, or sow them now (March / April) ready for planting out in a few weeks time. The other alternative is to buy a 6 pack or pot of pre-grown pea seedlings ready to plant out! (available in store)

Peas are a great starter crop as they are easy to grow and require little care after initial establishment to grow well. The first thing to make sure you have done is to prepare your site and improve your soil – if you haven’t done this already then you can view my previous video and blog post on how to do this.

Once you’ve improved your soil and you know where you want your pea plants to grow you’ll need to assemble, create or purchase a frame for them to grow up. Peas climb naturally so this is vital for supporting good healthy growth. You can get great, simple to use kits like we have here at Longacres, or you can assemble your own with just simple string and some bamboo canes.

Once the frame is in place you plant out your peas! Dig a small hole about the same size of the current pot they are in. Gently push the root ball up from the bottom of the pot or 6 pack and place gently into the hole you have just dug. Carefully backfill (move back around the plant) the soil that you dug out to create the hole. And that’s your peas planted!

The next step is to pinch out your pea plant growth tips if you want them to be more busy and compact. Do this by cutting or ‘pinching’ about a third of the growth of the pea away from the plant down to above a node – see my video on peas to find out more about this! You may also need to tie your peas to the canes or supports using jute twine if they are already tall.

The final step is to water them in (unless its raining of course!) I added the new Baby Bio Top Defence feed to my water which helps plants with stressful situations such as transplanting, drought and cold. It will be interesting to see how this product works over the season.

And that is all you need to know about planting peas! I will have a blog and video update later in the season to show you tips on harvesting and show you how things are getting along during the main growing season!

Have any questions about growing your own, plants or houseplants? Send them to us in an email to:

Jack Shilley - Soil Improvement

Nurture Your Soil & Enjoy A Bumper Crop | Longacres Garden Centre

You can watch the accompanying video here:

Arguably one of the most important parts of gardening and horticulture is looking after your soil. It contains all the vital nutrients that plants need to sustain healthy growth and produce a good crop, if the soil becomes worn down or isn’t nurtured you will start to run into problems with your plants and crops!

The first task you’ll need to do to start improving your soil is to clear it of weeds, heavy clay blocks, debris, stones & anything else which shouldn’t be there. It’s best to try and tackle weeds at the roots and remove as much of them as possible. Rake the soil over to remove any last obstructions.

Next is to begin to till or ‘turn over’ your soil whilst adding organic matter. Using a fork or soil tiller begin to lift & turn over the soil and break up any large clumps that may occur from doing this. As you are undertaking this begin to add your organic matter – this could be compost, manure, leaf litter etc… and continue to work the area until you’ve added a decent amount of organic matter and the whole site has been turned over.

Its always advised to read the label on the product you are using and care should be taken not to over-fertilise the site as this could lead to plant growth problems. Make sure any manure is well rotted before applying to your site!

I’m using Westland Organic Vegetable Growing Compost for this new vegetable plot – which is good for improving soil drainage, soil fertility and the texture of the soil. I’m also adding well rotted farmyard manure from Westland which contains a whole host of excellent nutrients required for plant growth and will again help with soil drainage and texture.

Thats all there really is to it! Now is the time to work the soil and your new vegetable plot, or existing patch ready for the season. Depending on the crops you are hoping to grow will determine what else you may need to add to the soil or what you may need to fertilise your plants with later on in the season.

This simple soil nurturing process can be carried out on a yearly basis and you’ll start to see the results of your improved soil in your flowers, vegetables or fruit – almost straight away!

Have any questions about growing your own, plants or houseplants? Send them to us here:

Spring vegetables – grow your own!

Red Pepper

Well spring has finally arrived, and it’s a key time for many gardeners across the country as its the start of the vegetable growing season. Seeds are being sown, plugs are being potted on and the greenhouse is getting busy full of vegetable plants! Below are a few of the many choices of vegetable plants that we have a Longacres, ready for you to nurture and look after at home!

Sweet Peppers

Sweet peppers are a great addition to any vegetable garden. Easy to grow and look after these vegetable plants will provide you with an abundance of brightly coloured fruits all summer long. Pepper seeds can be tricky to germinate; for those who don’t want the challenge, ‘mini’ six packs containing 3 varieties of sweet pepper are available in store!

Top Tips for Sweet Peppers

  • Keep out of any frost – make sure your plant your peppers after the last frost or grow them on inside on a windowsill or heated greenhouse/conservatory.
  • Make sure the soil is light, nutrient rich and free-draining – Water little and often!
  • Feed plants with a high-potassium fertiliser weekly when fruiting.

Lettuce Varieties

Lettuce plants are one of the easiest and one of the most well known vegetable plants! These versatile plants can be grown fairly easily from seed but can also be bought in 12 packs and planted straight into the ground to save time. Some lettuce plants must be harvested in one go at the end of the season, but there are many varieties now that are known as ‘Cut & Come Again’, where you can harvest what you need, and the plant will continue to produce more foliage!

Top Tips for Lettuces

  • Lettuce plants are considered hardy and so can be planted out now.
  • Protect plants from slugs and snail using copper wire, or organic pellets.
  • Ensure that you leave enough space between your plants so they don’t compete for nutrients, about 30cm apart is ample.


Growing your own onions is really simple and can be done right now! There are two main ways to grow onions from seed, and from onion sets. Onion sets are very simple and excellent value and can be planted in autumn for an early crop or now, for a late season harvest. You can buy onions growing from seed in 12 packs now for easy planting!

Top Tips for Onions

  • Plant in full sun, in a sheltered position.
  • Water your onion sets during dry spells and remove any flowers as soon as they appear.
  • Birds can be a problem and may lift your onions. Place deterrents near the plants to avoid this.

So there you have it – some common vegetable plants that are really easy to grow and look after! It is also of note that they can all be grown in containers on patins or decks if your tight on space. Why not grab yourself some vegetable plants, and see for yourself?

Gardening at Purkiss Cottage – first blog post!

Hello, this is the first gardening blog for Longacres from Mike at Purkiss Cottage (there’s a picture of the cottage following this post).

I am the part time gardener of five years at this beautiful cottage located within the New Forest. A 1940’s cottage with over two acres of land including large lawns, three greenhouses, a small vegetable plot and a variety of fruit trees. A growing Huchera collection, herbaceous borders and a fantastic fully established purple Wisteria. With chickens, ducks, alpacas, dogs and cats there is always a job to do!

This was the first weekend since before Christmas that there was a chance to get out in the garden and start on the growing list of jobs. Without having to get wet feet as half of the garden is still underwater as I’m sure a lot of you will also be experiencing, the potted roses were in desperate need of attention. Growing roses can be seen as a bit of a chore but they provide months of beautiful flowers and fantastic scents to float around the garden, so in my opinion a must for every garden and not as difficult as it is rewarding to grow.

This weekend I concentrated on the pot grown collection. Firstly I pruned out any dead wood or crossing stems. Then cut back all stems to an outward facing bud to around 10-15cm from the base. You may think this is rather early but David Austin the famous rose grower used to escape the in-laws on Boxing Day by getting out in the rose garden to prune his collection it is rumoured. So whilst we are having such a mild winter I decided to make a start.

Next after pruning each rose I took the rootball of each rose out of their pot. Removed any suckers pushing through and discarded of all of the weeds. Gently brushing away to remove old soil I then repot the rose using plenty of good drainage and a good quality compost. My preference is to use a specific rose, tree and shrub compost mixed 50/50 with John Innes No 3 for permanent planting. This will provide the best water and nutrient retention for roses grown in posts. Roses are amongst the hungriest plants in the garden and need plenty of regular feeding throughout the seasons. So to give these roses the best chance I decided to use a new product “Gro-Sure Planting Magic”. This will help to provide a mix of essential ingredients to give them the best start. Dried seaweed alongside fast acting nutrients and a slow release plant food with little water storing granules added to hold and release water close to the roots when required. This eliminates the risk of under or over watering. A really simple new product to use, just add two handfuls before putting the rootball back into the pot. Then backfill the pot firming down the compost as you go. It can also be used all around the garden in any situation including ericaceous plants and with fruit and vegetables. It will then feed the plant for up to six months.

These roses will also need additional feeding during the season to maintain good growth, strong flowers and help build up a good resistance to pest and disease. So I recommend using Westland rose food enriched with horse manure. Using a rose food containing horse manure provides all the usual major and minor nutrients that you find in a good rose food. With the added manure a traditional gardeners favourite with growing roses brings the slow release of essential trace elements to the soil. Healthy soil means healthy plants. I will feed all of the roses with a handful of food mid summer to keep them happy. Be careful not to feed too late in the summer as this will promote growth which maybe vulnerable to frost damage in the autumn.

A regular spraying programme beginning in early spring when fresh leaves appear will help prevent pest and disease during the spring and summer. A systemic insecticide and fungicide like Rose Rescue used every two weeks will keep your roses healthy throughout the summer.

Next weekend I will be planting out strawberries grown from last years plants and begin to start sowing tomato and pepper seeds. I will choose some seed potatoes to begin chitting ready for planting out after the risk of frost has passed. Best to buy early to get the best choices in varieties.

This Longacres Blog post was contributed by Mike Storer.

Purkiss Cottage

Purkiss Cottage

Growing seed potatoes – a how-to guide from Longacres!

The first in our series of videos for 2014 – Jack Shilley explains how to plant seed potatoes so you can enjoy a fresh crop through the year! Products featured include:

First Early Seed Potatoes:
Main Crop Seed Potatoes:
Longacres Multipurpose Compost:
Miracle Gro Gro Sac 50L:
Potato Planting Bag (twin pack):