In August 2016, seed distributor Mr Fothergill’s released their newest product – the Roll ’n’ Grow Garden. It’s a mat pre-sown with different seed varieties, that you literally just roll out, or unfold, and Voila! you have a salad veggie garden made easy. So how well did it work for me?
I’m no gardening expert, but I love to grow anything and everything in my garden. After a wonderful few tree-changes from crowded Sydney, to suburban Central Coast, and now on an half-acre block in the NSW Hunter Valley, I finally have some space to really have fun with landscaping and building my own garden haven. It’s very much an ongoing and long-term project, in between keeping house and running around after my oh-so-crazy and active 19-month-old boy. I’m yet to build my dream veggie patch, but in the meantime, I have a small patch of earth that will do for growing a few edible bits and pieces.
I was so excited to be able to trial these new seed mats, beginning last November. Preparation was so quick and easy, as was the ‘sowing’. In the box is the only thing you need – a 2m length of biodegradable paper, already embedded with rows of seeds. There are 3 seed mixes you can choose from – Salad Garden, Superfood Mix, or Cottage Flowers. This mat is similar to the Seed Tapes that are already on the market, but this is a full mix of vegetable seeds in one mat. I trialled the Salad Vegetable mix containing beetroot, lettuce, carrot, spring onion and radish. What a fantastic mix for the perfect salad!
The instructions on the box are so easy to follow – literally just roll out the mat onto your prepared bed, cover lightly with soil, and water to keep the seeds moist. The seeds are embedded in straight rows, and evenly spaced, to save the need for thinning the seedlings as they germinate. This makes growing a lot less time-consuming. (Especially when a certain little human takes up a lot of time and attention). Just as long as you keep the soil moist with a daily water, you can’t go wrong.
The mat comes in a 45cm x 2m length, but if your garden bed, or even pot, is smaller – just cut the mat to size with scissors. I reckon these seed mats would be great for people with confined growing space. If you have a large pot, just cut the mat to fit, and you can grow a salad on your balcony.
There are name labels for each row of seeds printed along the length of the mat. I do suggest laying out the mat on a still day. As you can see by my photos, I had to weigh it down with various gardening tools while I documented the process, before I spread the soil, so the mat wouldn’t blow away in the wind. It’s been a windy few months in the Hunter!
Within a week from sowing, the seedlings started to pop up, and then only a few short weeks later, I was harvesting handfuls of crunchy radishes.
The lettuce wasn’t far behind, but I had to be quick to get in before the caterpillars munched them. After another week or two I could pull up my carrots, and spring onion, then waited a tiny bit longer for my beetroots. It’s a bit of a waiting game in between the harvest of each vegetable, so I wasn’t able to make a full salad with everything.
That’s the only problem I find with these seeds on one mat – varying growth-to-harvest times. With separate seed packets, you can plan the timing of your seed-sowing to get a joint harvest of all your vegetables at once. My veggie bed did end up a little patchy, as not all the seeds germinated, but that is fairly common with all seeds. You can’t rely on them all wanting to grow.
In spite of this, the Roll ’n’ Grow Garden seed mats are a great product for time-poor gardeners. I can’t wait to get some more mats going again, in the Superfood Mix with yummy broccoli, kale, spinach, beetroot and rocket, and a few gorgeous Cottage Flowers.
[NOTE: This is an independent review of a product supplied by Mr Fothergill’s]