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The New Suttons Seeds Trial Grounds

Successful Trials!

Successful Trials!

It’s official. Suttons trial grounds have relocated to a larger site closer to head office. After 23 years battling with the poor soil and cramped conditions of our former site this is an event to celebrate.

Moving house is difficult. This was worse – no wonder we stayed at the previous site for so long. The enormous greenhouse had to be dismantled, moved and then re-erected and 2 huge new, although partly recycled, poly tunnels had to go up. A massive Dutch barn-type agricultural building was constructed, outside plant beds had to be terraced (Devon doesn’t do flat), paths had to be laid and a huge field had to be cleared and ploughed.

Inside the new barn, still needs a little work

Inside the new barn, still needs a little work

The greenhouse and tunnels being rebuilt

The greenhouse and tunnels being rebuilt

the barn shell

The barn shell

we needed to make sure the barn was flat

We needed to make sure the barn was flat

Toby insisted in doing things by hand...the proper way

Toby insisted in doing things by hand…the proper way

this quickend the pace and helped make certain areas flatter

This quickened the pace and helped make certain areas flatter

As with any move there are still jobs to complete but the main work is done and the site is now up and running. In the greenhouse grafted water melons and tomatoes are being trained vertically and now reach the roof and the cucumbers and peppers are showing plenty of fruit. Outside in the trials field hardy annuals are giving a fine display, the runner beans have reached the tops of the canes and all the other veg is romping away. Summer has arrived.

A watermelon flower, do note the string holding it upright

A watermelon flower, do note the string holding it upright

tomatoes supported by string to keep them upright

Tomatoes supported by string to keep them upright

The trial grounds has 2 main functions, to test and quality check new seed varieties for the coming season and to receive, hold, pack and despatch perennial plants, fruit and trees direct to our mail order customers.

For more details on the trial ground functions please see this link

the greenhouse vents open, enjoying the sun

The greenhouse vents open, enjoying the sun

Nothing better for your garden - hardy perennials British grown

Nothing better for your garden – hardy perennials British grown

award winning Geranium Rozanne in flower

The award winning Geranium Rozanne in flower

A trial at an early stage

A trial at an early stage

Hanging basket trials are looking good

the hanging basket trials are looking good

Water - essential for every garden

Water – essential for every garden

All of this is being managed as sustainably as possible. Rain water is captured from the roof of the greenhouse and packing shed and plans are for this to flow this into a 300 cubic metre pillow – similar to a giant bouncy castle. This rain water will be used to water all of the flower beds plus the trials field with mains water just being used for seedlings and greenhouse plants.

Indigenous predatory mites have been introduced to the greenhouse where they are busy munching their way through aphids, blackfly and the like. This saves the greenhouse having to be shut for spraying and is considered to be more effective.

The trial grounds team is led by Toby Connabeer whose knowledge and expertise is so impressive and useful that we’ve decided to share it with you. Each month we’ll be giving you an update and a tip that you can easily make use of in your own garden. This month we want to share Toby’s magic knot, simple but so very useful – please see this youtube video Toby and his knots

More from the Trial Grounds

Plenty of pots are needed in this operation

Plenty of pots are needed in this operation

the top field with a trusty piece of equipment

The top field with a trusty (rusty) piece of equipment

Taking shape in the sun

Taking shape in the sun

Getting ready to be despatched and well watered for the trip

Getting ready to be despatched and well watered for the trip

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Lis

About Lis

Our Suttons Blog comes from Lis Wallace, Head of Customer Service here at Suttons since 2002. Living on the edge of Dartmoor Lis has a large and “somewhat tricky” garden split across several levels but with the bonus of a stream tumbling through and a large, fertile veg patch. Across the blog Lis will share some of the knowledge she has gained over the years from her father, from working at Suttons and also from her own trial and error. Storm the Jack Russell is bound to chip in now and then. That’s what terriers do!

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