Buy seeds the easy way
Nickerson Direct is the online platform for growers to purchase quality seed products and brands from the leading UK forage and amenity seed supplier.
These are designed for smallholders and farmers who need a selection of seeds specific to their end use and grown in a variety of situations.
The company’s range of environmental seeds includes pollen and nectar mixtures designed to attract bees and pollinators. “We also offer mixtures containing annual and perennial wild flowers that are perfect for field margin use or to incorporate into landscaping,” they said. “You will find products to feed animals, equestrian grass seed and products that improve soil.
“The online shop complements our seed specialist technical team who can provide support and advice about all the products.
“These products are offered in small pack sizes, ideally suited to growers with small areas of land. Delivery is free of charge but Nickerson Direct also offers a collection service from the Witham St. Hughes/ Lincoln area.” MORE: Growers can access the site at www. nickersondirect.co.uk, or call 01427 371661 for product advice. Equipaddock is a combination of three ryegrasses and is very capable of producing good yields of high-quality horse hay. Phacelia has brilliant blue flowers which attract a large number of pollinators.
both sides, providing all-round greater flexibility. Depending on the weather, plants such as cucumber, tomato and melon can produce fruit well into November and sometimes December, so it’s well worth leaving them in the ground still.
TIP Have fun experimenting. Last autumn I planted lots of carrot seeds out for the first time, which with the milder weather means I was rewarded with lots of fantastic baby carrot pickings in January.
Valuable extra light
As already mentioned; I’d be hard pushed to grow decent tomatoes, cucumbers or peppers in my garden in West Wales without some form of cover. Growing under plastic also gives me room to experiment with more adventurous produce.
TIP The key here is making sure your polytunnel is clean inside and out to ensure your plants get as much light as possible, especially this time of year. Also any rips to the plastic need to patched straight away to stop cold air getting in and the holes getting any bigger.
If you’d like to extend your seed saving efforts, a polytunnel will help immensely. It allows you to safely overwinter more sensitive biennials such as carrots, parsley, beetroot and swede so they can successfully flower and set seed the following year. TIP
Seed saving from one type of brassica each year also reduces the chances of plants crossing (which happens when two types of brassica are in flower at the same time). You’ll need to grow about 20 plants ideally to ensure long-term genetic viability (in other words if you want to keep saving from the same stock in the future). I’d also recommend sprouts or kale as the easiest with which to start and because you can still collect a harvest from them in the meantime.
Where to buy
There are many different companies across the UK selling a range of structures in all different sizes. Here are just some of the best options on offer.
This company sells a wide selection of different structures, including a good choice of commercial polytunnels ideal for smallholders looking to sell some of their produce. On the larger end, their 16ft-wide x 24ft-long option, which includes the steel framework (made using 50mm diameter steel hoops), timber door frames and double hinged doors at each end, 720 gauge/180 micron Thermal Anti Drip polythene cover, and Anti Hot Spot Tape, retails at £1,140 including VAT. The company also sells accessories and additions to enable customers to enhance and customise the polytunnel to suit their individual needs.
Ferryman Polytunnels Ltd
A family business, based in Devon, the company delivers nationally and aims to provide quality products and personal service at a reasonable price. They sell sizes ranging from 8ft to 24ft wide (2.4m to 7.3m) with lengths to suit, plus a full range of covers and accessories.
At the higher end of the marketplace, this company offers a range of supercharged, strong structures that offer optimum growing for even the harshest climate. They have been proven to withstand the winds of the Falkland Islands, the snows of the Scottish Highlands and the soaring summer temperatures of mainland Europe.
They sell a variety of unique styles and sizes to meet the needs of every grower. Their frames are manufactured from ZN35 high tensile structural steel, which is almost twice as strong when compared to standard steel tubing. Their special bubble design plastic also effectively combines light transparency with good heat insulation (stabilising summer daytime temperatures as well as retaining heat overnight). Their larger structures (4m wide and above) also include manual outer wall vents to enable air circulation and green-house guttering to provide rain water harvesting is integral.
It’s a cost effective alternative to traditional glasshouses.
A bee on Phacelia
Equipaddock is a combination of ryegrasses and can produce good yields of high-quality horse hay
Cleaning the polytunnel
Polytunnels can also provide shelter for livestock during extreme circumstances, such as the current bird flu outbreak
Keder’s 4m structure with outriggers in an extreme location
Keder’s 4 x 6m standard model