Growers warned against jumping on grow-your-own retail bandwagon

Essex-grower WD Smith & Son director Michael Smith has warned that growers must think twice before ripping up bedding and planting vegetable plugs instead.

Despite the grow-your-own boom, which has seen sales of GYO products rise by up to 300% in some garden centres this March, Smith says growers must be wary before thinking about cashing in.

"They are not the easiest plants to get right. You need to be experienced to get it right for the retail trade. Hopefully no one will get their fingers burnt. But you have to get your batches right. They grow very fast and have a very short shelf life - twice as short as bedding. You can't just throw out impatiens crop and grow veg instead. And I've heard stories
that people have done that."

"I can't see veg getting bigger than bedding because it has such a way to go as a finished product."

Smith added that he had upped growing of vegetable plants by one third this season:

"I have got the feeling we are not going to be able to satisfy demand," he said.

Smith grows lettuce, tomato, peppers, cucumbers and beans in 9cm and 12cm pots, mostly on spec rather than to order. He said fruit was in demand too: "People whom I have not dealt with for years have contacted me for strawberries this year."

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