Chatting with Gardening Guru, Peter Seabrook

peter-seabrookAs one of the most read and revered gardeners, writer and broadcaster Peter Seabrook needs little introduction.   He explains how he got started.   “I was brought up gardening with my father and grandfather; I was just always interested.  We lived on my grandfather’s farm and just took in a little bit more field as garden when we wanted to.  My grandfather had a very large garden too and my father and I eventually kept both.  My first paid job was at a little nursery before I started secondary school.”

“I have still got my very first seed packet; they were sweet peas that I sowed when I was 7 or 8 years old and I’ve grown sweet peas every year since.”

“I was brought up during the War so we automatically grew vegetables to feed ourselves.  I think vegetables have always been popular with gardeners, it hasn’t changed much.  Big seed companies like Thompson & Morgan have always reported long, steady sales of veg seeds.  It comes and goes a bit; the high prices of vegetables in the hot summer of 1976 forced interest in growing your own again for a while.  The difference today is that the parent generation missed out on growing their own so we lost a generation.  A lot of the furore now, is that particular age group belatedly discovering the joys and satisfaction of home grown produce.”

Currently contributing regular columns to Amateur Gardening, Horticulture  Weekly and The Sun, Peter shares his secret of successful gardening.  “The soil needs to be fertile.  If you are just starting off, then concentrate on a small patch of ground about 1 or 2 metres square and dig in lots of organic matter to improve the soil.  Things will grow easier and you’ll get better results. Everyone wants success and success is necessary to maintain a healthy interest in what you do.”

“If you do that now and sow a few salad leaf seeds and land cress, you’ll be picking leaves in 6 weeks and the land cress is hardy so you can keep picking it throughout the winter.  Swiss chard is good to sow now too.  I don’t care for the taste of it as it’s too much like spinach but it’s decorative and very easy to grow.  Remember that each lump in the packet is more than one seed so they need to be sown wider apart; you’ll get two seedlings from each little cluster.”

“When people say ‘I’d love to grow my own, how do I start?’ I tell them the best way is just get on with it.  Gardening is as popular as it’s always been,” he adds, “The Sun newspaper has over 9 million readers and the most popular page is still Saturday’s gardening page.”

6a01156fa075f4970c01348693cf3b970cPeter’s Perfect Sweet Peas

Peter and I discussed the fact my sweet peas have struggled this year.  He agreed, “It’s been a difficult year for sweet peas.  Spring was late and then June was very hot; sweet peas really don’t like hot and dry conditions.  It was only the rain we had early in July that saved mine,” he adds, “Until then we had had less than 9 inches of rainfall this year.  I’m still picking them now though.  I am also preparing the trenches for next year’s crop.  I’ll sow the seeds on the 10th October and protect them with cloches through the winter.  That way I’ll be picking flowers the last week of May next year.  Autumn sowing is the secret of successful sweet peas!”

2 Comments on Chatting with Gardening Guru, Peter Seabrook

  1. My wife remembers Peter saying, some radio broadcast, that he didn’t have a copy of the BBC ‘Dig This’ booklet from 1974. She has a copy and would like to send it too him. Have you any idea where she could send it to.

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