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Customer Survey 2011

 The people who get our paper catalogues have been invited to take part in a survey this year. We have made the same survey available on-line; if you are interested in completing the survey, please follow the link below, All completed surveys will be entered into a draw to win a £30 gift voucher.

Click here to take survey


Last week at a meeting of the British Tomato Growers' Association light levels were said to be down 25% on average. Since then we have had another cold week with little or no sunshine. The plants are behind schedule and we are using more woodchip than we budgeted for. We can't 'push' plants too hard by increasing the temperature when the light levels are low - this results in poor quality. Our March deliveries are planned to begin on 14 March; so far they are on schedule ~ we will put any changes to delivery dates on the website.

The Met Office has not yet published the February summary, but you can find it via the following link in a day or so: UK climate summaries.


 We are currently harvesting winter salads (corn salad, land cress, rocket and winter purslane), root crops (carrots, celeriac, parsnips), chives, flat-leaf parsley, leeks, brassicas (cabbage, kales, purple-sprouting broccoli).

Corn Salad Kale 'Red Russian' Purple-sprouting broccoli Santee
Corn Salad Kale 'Red Russian' Purple-sprouting broccoli Santee

I have heard from several customers that they have lost their purple sprouting broccoli (PSB) and cauliflowers, and asking which varieties survived in our garden. We have Santee and Claret PSB and one Medaillon cauliflower (the other one died). One of our local growers says that his white sprouting broccoli survived the cold weather better than the purple.

We went to visit my parents in Wiltshire recently. Dad's brassicas are in fine fettle (his sprouts are much bigger then ours!). He plants his cabbages close together then harvests every other one for spring greens, leaving the remainder to grow on to produce heads.

We visited Whitehall Garden Centre at Lacock with my parents. They had a fine selection of good quality second-hand tools at prices similar to the new ones, so it is worth keeping a look out if you need to add to your toolshed.

Brussels sprouts 'Nautic' Cabbage 'Spring Hero' Kale 'Westland Winter'
Brussels sprouts 'Nautic' Cabbage 'Spring Hero' Kale 'Westland Winter'


Try Ele's tip for Potato and Celeriac Mash:

Boil equal quantities of celeriac and potato. Mash with cream, salt, pepper, mustard, a little lemon juice and parsley. 

Recent sowing & plantings

You can start planting potatoes this month, but wait until the soil starts to warm up. Delay planting if the soil is very wet (or very dry) or if a hard frost is forecast. You can use fleece or Envirotect to cover the rows; the leaves will definitely need protection from the frost once they emerge.

This is also the time to plant cabbage, calabrese, cauliflower, beetroot, peas, lettuce, rocket and strawberries.

You can also grow peas from seed, but the earliest sowings sometimes fail to germinate. For a succession of crops, plant 'Kelvedon Wonder' plants and 'Onward' or 'Progress' seed in March, followed by 'Greenshaft' in April and May. Alternatively try 'Sugar Snap'; they can be eaten whole when young, raw or cooked, or later shelled like ordinary peas. They keep in good condition longer than normal types. They grow to 2m tall, so will need support..

It's time to make successional sowings of 'Early Nantes' carrots or in late March/early April sow 'James' Scarlet Intermediate', 'Flyaway F1' or 'Rainbow Mixed'.

Spinach 'Matador' and radishes can be sown from March onwards.

For those of you with heated greenhouses, conservatories or propagators, we will be despatching tomato, chilli and sweet pepper collections this month. If you don't have heated facilities you can order the same collections for April delivery ~ collection home page.

Pests Corner 

Slugs are on the move. See our slug pellets page for information on pellets which only harm slugs plus other methods of control.

Gardening hints for March

Continue to prepare the ground for sowing and planting as conditions permit. Weeds are starting to compete and should be removed. Liquid feed or top-dress over-wintered crops if the older leaves are looking yellowish (brassicas often show purplish tints instead). Lift, divide and replant chives if necessary. Lift and heel in remaining parsnips and celeriac which are sprouting (see February newsletter).

New Products


Grafting Tomato plants at Delfland

There has been a lot of hype in the press recently about ‘turbo charged’ varieties of vegetables which have been specially cultivated to provide bigger, better, disease-resistant crops than normal. There is also an article in the March issue of the RHS Garden magazine, with pictures of the grafting process taken here at Delfland.

Our advice is that grafted plants are worth the extra cost if you grow your plants in the soil in the same place in the greenhouse every year, as this can lead to a build up of soil-borne diseases. We use a tomato rootstock that has high resistance to tomato mosaic virus (TMV), fusarium, corky root rot, verticillium and nematodes, though the latter are not usually a problem in the UK. Grafted plants are more vigorous leading to earlier and higher yields.

We have extended our range of grafted plants to include eight varieties of tomato and one cucumber. Our popular collection of tried and tested tomatoes is now available as either grafted or un-grafted plants ~ tomatoes collection.

Heritage Tomato Varieties

Garden Organic's Heritage Seed Library Tomato Collection
We have teamed up with Garden Organic's Heritage Seed Library to offer a special collection of tomatoes suitable for growing in a greenhouse or outdoors.

1 plant of the following varieties:
  • Tomato "Jubilee" 
  • Tomato "Darby Pink-Yellow" (striped) 
  • Tomato "Noir" 
  • Tomato "Pink Cherry" 
  • Tomato "Yellow Currant" 
  • Tomato "Wladeck's" 
Delivery for this collection will be ~ March, April and early May.

Price: £16.50 ~ £2.23 from every pack sold will go towards supporting Garden Organic's work.

To order ~ Garden Organic's Heritage Seed Library Tomato Collection

Seed Potatoes

The Speciality Collection varieties are now available as single 1kg nets: Pink Fir Apple, Highland Burgundy and Salad Blue; to place your order for 1kg nets, visit this page ~ Speciality Collection varieties single 1kg nets.

Best Seller List

  1. Grafted tomato ''Sweet Million F1'' (April)
  2. Spring (salad) Onions ''Parade F1'' (April)
  3. Cut & Come Again Salad Selection (March)
  4. Leeks ''Swiss Giant Lancia'' (March)
  5. Beetroot ''Boltardy'' (March)
  6. Calabrese ''Iron Man F1'' (March)

Other news ....

From this year, all our mail order plants will be grown in peat-free growing media, in line with Garden Organic's Organic Gardening Guidelines (to download the guidelines, click on the link). 

We are also donating the plants for Garden Organic's 'One Pot Pledge' events which aim to get 30,000 people who have never grown anything before to give growing a go by planting one container with edible plants. 20,000 have already signed up. For more information see their website ~ www.onepotpledge.org.

The 'Pot-tastic' section brings together all the varieties that are suitable for container gardening ~ visit 'Pot-tastic' section.

For the second year running we are giving a weekly £10 voucher to the winner of the Food for Life 'Blog of the Week'. competition. The Food for Life Partnership is a network of schools and communities across England committed to transforming food culture. It works to improve school meals, reconnect children and young people with where their food comes from, and inspire families to grow and cook food. Ele's school has recently enrolled - see www.foodforlife.org.uk for more details.

Find suitable plants for schools on our Plants for Schools page.

The Soil Association's annual conference in Manchester was interesting, inspiring and useful.

Key messages included:
  • On average, 30% of the food we buy is thrown away. More info www.lovefoodhatewaste.com.
  • We are going to run out of phosphorus - estimates vary between 30 and 80 years left. In 2009, 67% of this resource was mined in just three countries - China (35%), the USA (17%) and Morocco and Western Sahara (15%). China has now restricted, and the USA has stopped, exports of phosphate.
    Read more: New threat to global food security as phosphate supplies become increasingly scarce.
  • We would need 2.8 planets if everyone ate like we do in the UK or 5 planets to eat like the USA. We need to increase the proportion of fruit and vegetables in the average diet and grow them as locally as possible. (It doesn't get more local than your garden or allotment!).

Gift ideas

Our sundries and gift tokens make useful presents for birthdays, weddings, garden or allotment-warming presents. 


For new readers of the newsletter: you can order all the plants you need for the whole season and they will be delivered at the correct time for planting. There are useful cropping plans and other info to download from the website (download zone) and pages to help you with clearing an overgrown allotment and choosing tools.

There are 4 ways to buy plants from Delfland:
  1. Pick & Mix ~ single variety, 3 - 5 plants per pack. 
  2. Mini Packs ~ mixed varieties of single species (e.g. lettuce), 10-14 plants per pack. 
  3. Selection Packs ~ mixed varieties of single species; excellent value for larger gardens (50 - 70 plants). 
  4. Collections ~ small numbers per pack, but contain additional varieties to those available above. 

Delivery Dates

Dates Delivery Period
Until the stocks run out Seed Potatoes
Until the stock runs out Garlic ~ should be planted by the end of March
14 - 24 March March ~ brassicas, beetroot, peas, cut & come again salads, strawberries, tomatoes*, peppers* (*for heated greenhouses)
4 - 14 April April ~ aubergine, cucumbers, melon, peppers, tomatoes, onions, leek, rhubarb, strawberries, sweet peas
3 - 12 May Early May ~ globe artichoke, asparagus, beetroot, cardoons, celeriac, celery, chard, leek, salads, strawberries
16 - 25 May Late May ~ beans, courgettes, pumpkin, squashes, sweetcorn, herbs, leek, strawberries
6 - 16 June June ~ beetroot, brassicas, fennel, leek, cut & come again salads, strawberries
4 - 14 July July ~ beetroot, Savoy cabbage, calabrese, leek, salads
4 July - 11 Aug July & August ~ kales, sprouting broccolis, caulflowers, leek.
1 - 11 Aug August ~ Oriental vegetables, cut & come again salads
5 - 15 September September ~ winter purslane, corn salad, land cress, lettuces, rocket, broccoli, cabbage, calabrese, chard, perpetual spinach, mustard, bunching onions
3 - 13 October October ~ winter purslane, corn salad, land cress, lettuces, rocket, broccoli, cabbage, calabrese, chard, perpetual spinach, mustard, bunching onions, Japanese overwintered onions, garlic

Don't forget to let us know if you are going to be away and we will try to fit our deliveries around your holidays ~ email your holiday plans.

Copyright © 2011 Delfland Nurseries Limited, All rights reserved.


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