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Many gardeners buy young vegetable plants from local garden centres or mail order companies to save time and for convenience. But have you ever wondered where those plants originally came from? Martin Fish travels to a high-tech nursery to find out
Perfect trays of salads – a few of the 180 million plants produced each year

When I came into horticulture many years ago most nurseries would raise their own plants from seed and prick them out to grow on to sell to the public. And, of course, many gardeners would raise their veg seedlings themselves because the range of plants offered for sale was very limited at the time.

That was then, but over the past 30 years the nursery industry has changed hugely and young plant production is now big business and very specialised. Gone are the days when a nursery would scatter a few seeds in a seed tray; it’s now very much high tech and state of the art horticulture!

I recently visited Earley Ornamentals, a specialist nursery nearThirsk in North Yorkshire that is one of the UK’s leading producers of ornamental and vegetable young plants – plug plants to me and you!The company started in 1992 which was around the time when growers were switching from sowing their own seed to buying in seedlings and plug plants to grow on. I had a nursery in the 1990s and remember starting to buy plug plants from these new growers.

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About Kitchen Garden Magazine

In this month's issue of Kitchen Garden... - Free 2018 Gardener's journal - 6 Recipes to warm up your winter - Grow a pear! with our pick of the top varieties - Veg made simple 4 easy steps to perfect crop rotation - Onion sowing explained - What's i store? Fill your larder for free in 2018 - Make your own cold frame & gutter garden - How-to guide for spuds, chillies, celery & yacons - 5 DIY Tipples to get the party started - Meet the young plotters - Savings on great products