NOTHING irritates my eyes and ears more than wandering around a superstore or garden centre in the first week of October and coming face-to-face with Santa and tinsel and having to listen to carols or some ghastly plastic creation suddenly bursting forth with “We wish you a merry Christmas”.
Believe me, it does happen. I could name a few prem-festive establishments but won’t be tempted if only to spare their blushes.
In other words, Christmas gets earlier and earlier each year as the retailers resort to desperate tactics to woo customers and sell their seasonal wares ahead of their arch-competitors.
Next Tuesday it will be five weeks before Christmas Day – still too early, I reckon, to start winding up those Christmas jingles, but to save me from the “Bah, humbug, courtroom” here are a few ideas for gardeners to tick off their lists, courtesy of seed and plant people Mr Fothergill’s and Johnsons.
For anyone new to gardening Mr Fothergill’s offers patented GroBox (RRP £6.99) and GroMat (£4.99) ranges of easy-to-grow, pre-sown products. GroBox is a bio-degradable cardboard box containing four varieties of pre-sown vegetables or herb seeds in compost, which is planted, covered and watered in the garden or in a container.
The range also includes a children’s flower and veg garden.
GroMat is a two-metre, bio-degradable mat pre-sown with a mix of either flower or veg seeds and can be rolled out as it is or cut to fit any size of plot, border or container.
There are four windowsill kits (£7.95 each), each consisting of a galvanised metal container, seeds, compost and instructions.
Eye-catching grow kits in the caricature form of various animals would make perfect stocking-fillers to encourage youngsters to take an interest in growing from seed. The ceramic egg cup-style planters, known as Munakuppi – Finnish for egg cup – Hair Grow Kits are just £3.95.
Each Munakappi includes two sachets of seed – basil for short “hair” and ryegrass for longer “locks” plus compost and instructions.
For chilli lovers, there are Chilli Pepper grow kits (£4.99) for classic, great tasting, fiery red chillies or juicy medium-hot alternatives.
From Fothergill’s to sister company Johnsons – and for educational and entertaining presents for kids who like to get their hands dirty in the garden, the firm offers its Little Gardeners range. Starting from just £2.50, there’s plenty of choice, from seed starter pots and complete grow kits to flower mixes and activity kits.
There’s even a fully-functioning mini-greenhouse for them to construct.
The new Kitchen Seed Sprouter (£11.99) is a fanatstic gift for someone with little space outside. It’s a fuss-free way of producing fresh and tasty sprouts and microgreens all year round – and all from a kitchen windowsill.
Johnsons Microgreens Growing Kit (£4.99) is a simple way of producing baby leaves. Loved by chefs, microgreens are the closest thing yet to “instant” veg and add a fresh and punchy flavour to just about any savoury dish. They can be harvested with MicroSnips, mini-shears which can be bought from the Johnsons range for £3.99.
For that extra prezzie under the tree, the Johnsons Sarah Raven seed collections are a range of gorgeous cut flower and wildlife-attracting varieties. There’s rudbeckia Sahara with its delightful mix of soft coloured flowers (£2.60) and allium cernuum (£2.80) which bears blooms resembling a delicate chandelier.
⏩⏩➡» Both Mr Fothergill’s and Johnsons range of seeds and kits are stocked at garden centres, supermarkets and leading DIY stores as well as online at http://www.mr-fothergills.co.uk and www.johnsons-seeds.com
⏩⏩➡» Happy Christmas gardening: Above – a selection of Mr Fothergill’s and Johnsons gifts. Right – Fun with Munakappi, the happy hair grow kit which I sprouted in my kitchen.