Monday, 5 April 2010

River Cottage? Try Rocket Gardens!

Whilst the excitement caused by Saturday's allotment visit has not yet abated, reality has certainly started to kick in. Along with packing copious boxes ready for the impending move, all the energy of recent weeks has been spent looking for land, rather than thinking about what to put into it! Now that the London Vegetable Garden has secured a new home and the move is but a few days away, it's time to start thinking seriously about what to start planting – and how to go about this.

Although the quantity of balcony produce produced last year could hardly label me 'self-sufficient', I took great pride in growing all of my crops in pots from seeds. A good sized balcony and a huge windowsill afforded me a makeshift 'greenhouse', which enabled me to nurture seedlings until they were strong enough to endure the climes of life on the London Vegetable Garden balcony!

Now this year, I may have a share in an allotment, but this does not mean that problems no longer exist! My new flat has no real 'growing area' in which to grow seedlings on the scale that I managed to last year. Whilst I will be starting off this year's tomato plants (and a few other vegetables) from seed on a windowsill or two, the majority of this year's plants are going to be planted in situ in the ground.

Whilst this avoids root damage and disturbing young plants when transplanting seedlings between flower pots, it also means that one cold snap can prove much more of an obstacle to young plants. Although it's now British Summer Time, the weather this Bank Holiday weekend has shown that BST tends to exist mainly in name only!

One solution is to bring in baby plants and transplant these into the ground. Along with a National Trust book on allotments, my mother has kindly posted me my very own window box garden! Now obviously she hasn't send me a 'real' garden (I'd have soil all over my doorstep and letterbox!), but she has sent me a card that, once sent off, ensures I'll be delivered fresh vegetable plants to use in my allotment.

Much akin to farm-produced 'vegetable boxes' that are delivered to your doorstep weekly, 'Rocket Gardens' delivers a box of baby vegetable plants for budding gardeners to bed in on the allotment, in the garden, the patio, or even (as the name suggests) a windowsill! Set up by the aptly named Mike Kitchen back in 2005, Rocket Gardens is based in Cornwall and grows thousands of baby vegetable plants that are then sent to people to grow on themselves. As the website states:

“At Rocket Gardens, we take out all the risk and hard work that comes with growing your own organic plants from seed. We look after the plants when they are young and vulnerable, only letting you have them when they are the perfect size, ready to be transplanted straight into your garden.”

Now, I shall still be attempting to see what I can grow from seed in the new flat (the trials and tribulations of which will naturally be chronicled on the blog), however these baby plants will enable me to get stuck right in once I officially arrive at the allotment. The card states that my plants will be delivered in around 10 days from receipt of the card, so once I'm moved and set up at the allotment, this will be one of my first tasks – watch this space!

If any of you have used a similar 'plant delivery' service, I'd like to hear from you! Simply leave your comments on this post, or write on the London Vegetable Garden's Facebook page!


  1. congrats on getting the share in the allotment. Good luck with seed growing, trust me it is not hard and you will do fine in your new flat.

  2. What a fantastic idea! (Also, I very much approve of your Sherlock Holmes Penguin Books mug. Nice. :))

  3. Yes I did this back in 2007 when my vege beds were new but late for the start of the season.

    Though I didn't use this company, the common thing I found with any of the number of places I sourced plants from was to shelter the plants after planting out with fleece or open end cloche, for a few days if the weather is good or a little longer if the weather was more on the iffy side.

    That year I had a very good success rate, so I'm sure this will work out for you too.

  4. Hello! I stumbled into your blog today because I have been looking for Londoners to share hints and experiences with about vegetable growing. I live in Borehamwood and am now entering my third year of vegetable growing. I take the "if it doesn't produce food, I am not growing it" approach. I grow my vegetables on raised beds and containers. I have garlic and onions in the beds planted last autumn, planted my potatoes and salads on Good Friday and revamped all my herbs and berry bushes yesterday.

  5. I've never heard of Rocket Gardens before, but I will be interested to see how their plants do for you. I think it's quite a good idea to have seedlings delivered to you if you're late in the season starting off, or if you don't have anywhere to start seeds off.

  6. I had a Rocket Gardens salad gift voucher purchased for me by a friend. I redeemed the voucher as instructed in April and have only just received the order now (nearly 2 months late). A large number of the seedlings are damaged, they are also very small (2-3 weeks on) and are not in a good condition. I contacted Rocket Gardens who informed me that the usual weather conditions had affected the growth of the seedlings and delayed the order. They offered no refund for the damaged seedlings. I would advise that you stay clear of this company and if you really want to grow your own save your money and grow your own plants from seed.



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