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Expert advice from Senior Seedsman, Peter Miller at Kings Seeds

Can you tell us about you, your role at King’s Seeds and your background?

I followed my grandfather into the seed trade joining E.W Kings in August 1963, 60 years of service in August. In my early days I worked in the warehouse preparing bulk seed orders, seed cleaning, trial ground work , crop inspecting, harvesting, seed testing in our lab and more latterly seed purchase manager which involved buying all of our seed and placing crop growing contracts in several countries around the world. I am a keen allotment holder growing a wide range of crops on a 25 rod plot.

With Sweet Peas what treatment can you recommend? Are there any tips to how you get the best germination?

We achieve good germinations sowing mid-November in a cold greenhouse, sown into a good quality seeds sowing compost which we water well using tap water , leave for 5 days and water well again after this water as required during the winter. In the spring nip the tops out to encourage side shoots, harden off and plant out in March subject to the weather conditions. Sowing in November gives an earlier and longer flowering season.

Tell us about your Heritage strains?

We maintain a few heritage varieties, mainly ones that have stood the test of time and are still economically viable. In the last few years we have re-introduced Kale Cottagers, a very old variety that we had a reserve of stock seed in our freezer, Likewise with Broccoli Nine Star Perennial back into the catalogue 2022/23 season.

How will you move to peat-free compost? Is your testing ongoing?

We have been conducting trials over the past few months with a number of seed sowing and multi-purpose peat-free composts, the results range from reasonable to appalling, so far none are as good as the peat-based compost we normally use.

Finally, your seeds are described by the NSALG as “always of the purest and most reliable stock”. How is this? What is it you do differently or better?

For the stocks we buy, of which there are many, we buy from growers and merchants that we have used for many years, the one thing that sets us apart from all other companies is being a fully independent we do not have anyone looking over our shoulder and can buy on quality not on price.

Picture below: 4 brands of peat free compost, 10 Lettuce Little Gem pills per pot, germination 100% to nil

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