My all time favourite – Butternut Squash

My name is Hayley Moisley I am 24 and have a passion for growing your own. I work at VegTrug, a company that is passionate about making GYO available to everyone. People sometimes think it a bit strange and I often get asked “shouldn’t I be out having fun”. Believe me, this gives me enormous pleasure and it becomes a bit addictive, so be warned! This is my first blog and I am an amateur allotmenteer. I hope to share with you my journey and experiences.

Butternuts are one of the first veggies I grew, getting me completely hooked! The first year I grew them in pots (it is possible) with them dotted around my parents garden. It was at that point I realised my hobby needed its own space so I went on the allotment waiting list…and the rest is history.

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Sowing seeds in 9cm pots indoors is the simplest method, the germination ratio is pretty good with the majority coming up. Some say to pre soak the seeds which is all well and good if you have time, but I don’t!

The most common stumbling block for growers is getting the fruits to set. Some years I’ve had loads of early female flowers but frustratingly no males. I’ve even sneaked onto my neighbours plot with a paintbrush to steal some of their male pollen (sorry Anne). Other years I’ve had lots of flowers of both but the pollinating insects must have taken a holiday!

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To ensure the fruit sets, use a paintbrush or cut off the whole male flower and rub it on the female stigma. Its quite easy to identify the male and female flowers, females will have the fruit starting to develop behind the flower. Also they have different “bits”, much like us humans!

Male

Male

Female

Female

Each plant will produce around 4 fruits, any more and the plant won’t be able to put its energy into ripening them all, cutting of vines and flowers will help redirect its energy. By the end of summer, the squashes will be at full size and have begun the process of changing colour. I prune any leaves that shadow the fruits, allowing the sun in, hardening the skins giving you a longer storage life.

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Last year before the first frost, I harvested 40 kilos of butternuts from 12 plants which kept us going all the way through to April. After harvest I left them on a window sill for a week to cure, then I individually wrapped each butternut in a few sheets of newspaper and layered them in crates. The crates were placed in the cool garage but a shed or even a cool spare room would work. Checking them every month for signs of mould meant I had a continuous supply!

Butternuts are really versatile in cooking, having them as the main event roasted and stuffed, soup for lunch or my favourite, butternut squash curry, perfect for a chilly winter evening! The seeds are normally scooped out and chucked away but I’ve come up with the simplest, yummiest solution!

Ingredients:

Seeds taken from 1 butternut, stringy flesh removed

1tbs cumin

1tbs cayenne pepper

1tsp turmeric

1tsp curry powder

1tbs olive oil

1sp salt

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees. Place all of the ingredients in a baking tray, with your hands or spoon (you may get yellow hands from the turmeric) mix and coat all the seeds spreading them out so they are one layer. Place in the oven and cook for 15 minutes or until crispy.

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These are perfect as an alternative to snack treats or a crunchy topping for soup or salads. Enjoy!

If you have any questions, please feel free to leave a comment and i’ll get back to you, or you can follow my growing progress on Instagram @hayleymoisley. My next blog will be discussing saving seed and bees all in one!

Hayley is our Design and Marketing Creative here at VegTrug. To get more growing advice or to find out about our products visit www.vegtrug.com.

Beetroot, from seed to plate!

My name is Hayley Moisley I am 24 and have a passion for growing your own. I work at VegTrug, a company that is passionate about making GYO available to everyone. People sometimes think it a bit strange and I often get asked “shouldn’t I be out having fun”. Believe me, this gives me enormous pleasure and it becomes a bit addictive, so be warned! This is my first blog and I am an amateur allotmenteer. I hope to share with you my journey and experiences.

In recent years beetroot has been labeled THE “super food” and has even been proven to reduce high blood pressure. I’ve found beetroot to be one of the simplest crops to grow and doesn’t take up a lot of space, its also a quick crop ready to harvest in just 90 days from sowing.

This year I’m growing three varieties, Detroit 2 which are a deep maroon, Chioggia with pretty stripy flesh perfect for salads and finally Boltardy. Im trying to grow successionally, the first batch was sown in early spring on the window sill, and the second will be sown straight in the raised bed.

The seeds germinate quickly and produce multiple seedlings. Beetroot ‘seeds’ are actually seed clusters, with between 1 and 6 viable plants. I didn’t like thinning them out as it seems like a waste but it will help the strongest grow!

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Beetroot is ready to be harvested from a golf ball up to a cricket ball size. Simply lift the roots from the soil and cut off the leaves, leaving at least an inch of foliage. That little bit of foliage will mean that the colour from the beetroot wont bleed out too much when cooking.

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Traditionally we think of jars of pickled beetroot but there are lots of other uses for it. Beetroot Keftedes is the perfect summer snack or addition to a bbq feast. Think of these as a vegetarian meatball! Ive experimented with freezing the mixture before and after cooking, both work a treat!

Beetroot Keftedes

Serves 4

200g fresh beetroot, cooked, peeled and grated

2 spring onions, finely chopped

3tbsp grated parmesan

240g feta cheese, crumbled

1 egg

2tbsp basil

1tbsp mint

1tbsp parsley

220g breadcrumbs

60g plain flour

olive oil for frying

1 lemon

salt and pepper

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1 Mix the beetroot, spring onions, cheese, egg and chopped herbs together. Season, then mix in enough breadcrumbs to bind the mixture. Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour.

2 Shape the mixture into golfball-size balls, adding a little flour if the mixture is too wet.

3 Season the flour and coat the balls in it. Heat the oil until hot, but not smoking, and fry the balls in batches for 2-3 minutes until golden all over. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels.

These can be served hot accompanying a salad and steamed fish, any left overs can be kept cold for packed lunches the next day!

If you have any questions, please feel free to leave a comment and i’ll get back to you, or you can follow my growing progress on Instagram @hayleymoisley. My next blog will be discussing saving seed and bees all in one!

Hayley is our Design and Marketing Creative here at VegTrug. To get more growing advice or to find out about our products visit www.vegtrug.com.

FAQ’s

Frequently Asked Customer Questions

VegTrug FAQs

We have been manufacturing and selling the VegTrug product range now for coming up to 8 years. Sales of the VegTrug are now well into the hundreds of thousands of units. Some of our customers call for help and we often see the same issues arise.

Generally most problems are resolved by reading the build instructions carefully and watching the build video before commencing setup of the VegTrug. Here are some of the more common questions we get asked:

 

1. I am trying to put the VegTrug together and nothing fits! The boards simply will not line up correctly when I try to put them on. What am I doing wrong?

Usually this problem stems from the very beginning of the build when you put the “H” of the legs together. You must leave the bolts loose. If you have tightened the bolts on the legs so that there is absolutely no play in the VegTrug when you come to attach the front and back panels they will be very difficult to fit. You need to undo the screws and undo the legs so that they are loose.

You will then be able to fit the panels correctly and it will all slot in correctly for final screws and tightening. The movement in the “H’” of the legs gives you the play to get the panels fitted correctly.

Please watch the VegTrug Build video here:

http://vegtrug.com/support/videos/building-your-vegtrug/

 

2. My VegTrug Liner is disintegrating. How long should it last?

With regard to liner deterioration. The liner Is designed to be biodegradable and will break down quickly when exposed to the elements. However, it should last two or three seasons without a problem if used correctly and not left exposed. Usually customers who have seen it deteriorate quickly have left the top edge outside and exposed to sun and rain and wind (usually flapping around horribly). We recommend that you tuck the liner back down inside level with the soil and to will find that it will not split or fray at all. The instructions and build video both clearly say that the liner should be tucked back inside level with the soil.

Unfortunately, this is a case of we are damned if we do and damned if we don’t! We make the liner biodegradable so it breaks down in land fill, but the customer has to be aware that they must be careful about leaving the liner exposed.

In instances where the top edge of the liner has deteriorated, you can cut it off to the top level of the soil and this will solve it as the liner portion that has been under the soil and not exposed to the elements will be fine. You can buy a replacement liner. They are very inexpensive and can usually be found on our eBay shop for accessories (UK ONLY) or from your local distributor/stockist.

 

3. How often should I treat the wood on my VegTrug with preservative?

The VegTrug is delivered pre-treated from the factory with a water based food safe preservative so it will not need to be treated with anything for some time.

The VegTrug will need re-treatment at least annually thereafter. Of course where you live and the environment will affect how often the product needs to be treated. Drier, sunnier, hot conditions will mean the VegTrug needs more frequent maintenance.

 

4. What should I treat my wooden VegTrug with? Can you recommend a product?

We are often asked to recommend a preservative for use with the VegTrug and are now delighted to announce our recommendation of the Protek range of water based preservatives for the treatment of the VegTrug range of products in the UK. Certified to BS EN 71-3:1995, the Protek range is suitable for treatment of playground equipment as well as food safe applications like VegTrug.

VegTrug FAQs 1]The added advantage is that you can choose to keep the natural finish of the wood by using the Protek ‘Clear Tough Coat’ product or can stain the VegTrug with any colour from the range with a single coat of the ‘Wood Protector’ range first and then a coat of the Clear Tough Coat to finish.

We think Protek offers amazing value for money and your choice of stain and protective finish can be used on your shed and fence as well as your VegTrug.

Better still we have negotiated a very special arrangement for our customers. If you visit shedcare.co.uk and order your Protek products, simply put in the code ‘vegtrug’ on checkout to receive an incredible 20% discount on your order!

For customers overseas, it is very difficult for us to have knowledge of the local brands available everywhere in the world. We would recommend that you visit your local hardware store and take some local advice. Please ensure you treat the VegTrug with a food safe, water based preservative.

 

5. How much soil does the VegTrug take?

Medium 1.8m VegTrug 420 Litres

Small 1m VegTrug 210 Litres

Mini 75cm VegTrug 180 Litres

Medium 1.8m Wall Hugger 310 Litres

Small 1m Wall Hugger 170 Litres

VegTrug Poppy 50 Litres

 

6. What soil should I use in the VegTrug?

We would recommend using a general purpose vegetable growing compost in the VegTrug. However, we would add a percentage (say 20%) of John Innes #3 mixed through the soil as this is heavier and will help maintain some moisture stopping the VegTrug from drying out.

For overseas customers, please visit a local stockist of soil and take some local advice. They should know what is suitable for your area and environment.

 

7. How often should I change the soil in the VegTrug?

A fully planted VegTrug in the Spring when growth is at its highest will need fertiliser added to the water in the watering can after the first 6 weeks of planting.

We recommend that the VegTrug is ‘top dressed’ annually to replace the nutrient lost during the growing season. This means as a minimum removing the top 12-15cm (5-6in) of soil and replacing it with new soil. This should be mixed in as far as possible.

 

8. Is it OK to get the VegTrug Poppy wet? What are your recommendations for keeping it clean?

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The felt of the VegTrug Poppy is designed to be used in a external environment and to be wet. Particularly on the light colours we would recommend not using a coloured fertiliser when watering the VegTrug Poppy as this may stain the felt. Should the felt get dirty, let it dry and brush the dirt off carefully.

 

9. How long will the VegTrug Poppy felt last?

The felt of the VegTrug Poppy has been tested in extreme hot and extreme cold environments. We are confident the felt will last for one to two seasons. Replacement felts for the VegTrug Poppy are inexpensive and available in a variety of colours.

 

10. Do you recommend an automatic watering system for VegTrug?

Many of our retail partners sell automatic watering systems that can be used with VegTrug. Please be careful if you install a drip system that this does not come into contact directly with the wood of the VegTrug. We would recommend a product like the Autopot Aquabox Spyder System which is not a drip system.

You can find details here: http://www.autopot.co.uk/watering-systems/aquabox-raised-bedwatering

 

11. What are the individual covers used for?

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The cover functions are as follows:

Greenhouse (PE) Cover: This functions exactly as a greenhouse would. The gardener can use this cover to bring on small seedlings in the early part of the season in the same way they would use a glass greenhouse.

Insect Protection Cover (Micro Mesh): This cover pretty much does what it says on the tin. The 0.6mm hole is designed to stop most common aphids like carrot fly or onion fly. It is also great in season for stopping birds being able to steal ripe fruit grown in the VegTrug. You can water through the micro mesh cover.

Fleece Cover: Used when the weather turns colder. If you still have plants growing in the VegTrug you may be able to extend the growing season slightly by using a fleece cover to stave off some early frosts.

Shade Cover: This is a special UV protection cover which screens 50% of the UV rays passing through it. This cover is for very harsh, sunny environments and uses branded ‘Coolaroo’ material developed in Australia. This cover is not available in all regions.

Please do have a look at our infomercial here which explains the use of covers:

http://vegtrug.com/support/videos/vegtrug-infomercial-english/

 

12. Why do you not sell the frame with the micro mesh or fleece covers?

We are limited in the combinations of frame and cover we can offer for sale. The retailers cannot reasonably be expected to stock all combinations of frames and covers. We therefore chose to bundle the frame with the most common cover which is the greenhouse cover. If you buy a micro mesh or fleece cover it will not come with a frame and these cannot be bought separately. You need to start with the frame and greenhouse cover and then buy the other covers that you need.

 

13. My frame / cover got broken in a storm is this covered under warranty?

No. We clearly state on the instructions for the frame and covers that they cannot reasonably be expected to cope with harsh weather, particularly strong winds. It is a plastic sheet which is held to the wind and will get blown away or broken. Please take steps to remove the covers when conditions are such that it is likely to be damaged by inclement weather.

For the same reason please ensure that you keep the covers clear of snow. If allowed to build up the weight will break the frame.

 

14. I have never grown anything before can you give me individual advice on what to grow?

We try to respond to every customer individually but cannot give exclusive growing tips for you. We do provide a great deal of free information in the ‘Growers Guide’ section of our website and also with our free iPhone or Android App. Here you will find advice sheets and videos from horticultural experts.

 

15. Can I fit wheels to my VegTrug?

The short answer is no. When filled with soil the VegTrug is very heavy. It is designed to be static and the parts ‘lock’ together when filled with soil. This allows the product to deal with the weight of soil. If fitted with wheels, when rolled along, if the wheel stopped suddenly on a stone or kerb for example, the VegTrug would more than likely break. It is simply not designed to withstand the lateral weight shift that would occur in this instance.

Please note that the VegTrug warranty is voided if wheels are fitted by a customer.

 

16. The VegTrug is brilliant, what else do you do?

We specialise in the grow your own market and have many products available for the gardener interested in this area. Please visit our website at www.vegtrug.com to see all of our product offerings and a world-wide list off stockists.

 

For any other questions please call our customer service team on +44 1206 230025

 

There is a wealth of further information and customer announcements on our website at www.vegtrug.com We also have a dedicated blog / announcement site which can be accessed through our main website.

 

You can follow us on Facebook (we love to be liked) or follow our Tweets @vegtrug. We usually try to follow back.

 

The new VegTrug Barrel Planters

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Size Isn’t Everything

IMG_7238My name is Hayley Moisley I am 24 and have a passion for growing your own. I work at VegTrug, a company that is passionate about making GYO available to everyone. People sometimes think it a bit strange and I often get asked “shouldn’t I be out having fun”. Believe me, this gives me enormous pleasure and it becomes a bit addictive, so be warned! This is my first blog and I am an amateur allotmenteer. I hope to share with you my journey and experiences.

 

When I first started it was all about the biggest veg and largest crops with so many competitions around awarding the biggest crops, I think its time for the smaller produce to be celebrated! This is something I realised by mistake, managing to grow the smallest pumpkins by accident! Serendipity plays a huge part in my gardening experience, I stumbled across countless benefits with smaller crops, from taste to less food waste.

As gardens and growing areas are getting smaller we need to maximise the space. This year I’m growing an acorn squash variety called Honey Bear, this is the perfect size for two people to share. The plant can produce up to five fruits but make sure you pinch off any flowers after five fruits have set, otherwise the plant won’t have enough energy to ripen them all.

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Winter squashes have thick hard skins which make them perfect for storing over winter as long as they are kept whole. Just wrap them up in newspaper and place in a garage or shed and they should last you a good few months.

Carrots are perfect when grown in pots and of course a VegTrug, as they hate stony soil. Varieties such as Romeo, Parmex and Caracus are short rooted and do exceptionally well in containers and aren’t to fussy about the soil they are grown in. The small size is ideal for cooking and serving whole. Keeping them in a container over 60cm high from the ground should deter the female carrot root fly laying her eggs.

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Sunflowers are typically grown for their height, competing against each other for who has the tallest sunflower! They are an easy flower to grow but try pinching out their growing tips when they reach 8 inches tall. This will encourage side shoots, giving you lots of flower heads and encouraging more pollinating insects. My favourite variety is “Hellios Flame” with its sunset of petals.

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Spring has just started so its a perfect time of year to search through the seed catalogues and find varieties suitable for you! If you have any questions, please feel free to leave a comment and i’ll get back to you, or you can follow my growing progress on Instagram @hayleymoisley. My next blog will be discussing the latest super food “Beetroot, from Seed to Plate” including a favourite recipe of mine!

Hayley is our Design and Marketing Creative here at VegTrug. To get more growing advice or to find out about our products visit www.vegtrug.com.

VegTrug keeps the frost at bay with its new Cold Frame

VegTrug, the original self-contained raised bed company, is helping gardeners to keep the frost at bay this winter with its new Cold Frame.

Custom made for the VegTrug, the new Cold Frame is a new accessory in addition to the existing range of covers. The wooden frame and 6mm double insulation polycarbonate provides solid cover that will protect your plants over the winter months enabling you to extend your growing season.

The Cold Frame has been specifically designed to let in the maximum amount of light and has brackets that hold open the frame either a fraction for ventilation or fully for when you need to tend to your plants.

As CEO, Joe Denham explained, “Our greenhouse cover has proved extremely popular since its launch and as the Grow Your Own trend continues to expand, we’re confident that our Cold Frame will be just as much in demand. This is a premium product which is beautifully designed to add to the look of the VegTrug as well as being extremely practical.

“The Cold Frame will allow gardeners to grow vegetables further into the winter months extending their season and consequently their harvest. It will also enable those with limited outside space, who have previously dismissed producing their own food, to give growing their own a go,” adds Joe.

The new Cold Frame measures 105cm wide by 76cm deep by 145.5cm high and retails at £59.99.

For further information about the new Cold Frame, as well as other products from VegTrug, visit www.vegtrug.com or call 01206 230025.

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Art Deco decadence transforms the original VegTug with the launch of the Liberty

VegTrug, the original self-contained raised bed company, has taken its classic VegTrug and given it a stunning art deco twist, with its new Liberty planter.

Combining the iconic and award-winning V-shape design with intricate metal work, the Liberty raised bed features a wooden bed with high quality cast aluminium end panels and legs.  These end panels come with a choice of coloured felts to create a backdrop for the vintage metal design, with consumers being able to choose from red, green, grey or purple.

As well as being as practical and easy to use as the traditional VegTrug, the Liberty will add colour and a touch of 1920’s class to any garden.

As VegTrug Design Guru, Hayley Moisley explained, “The Liberty raised bed is completely unique, combining the practicality of our innovative v-shaped bed with a distinctive art deco design.  The choice of colours gives consumers the chance to coordinate the Liberty with their existing garden furniture or to create an eye-catching focal point.”

The Liberty is available in modular form and measures one metre wide by 76cm deep by 78cm high. Extension packs are available which enable the customer to extend the Liberty by 1m widths. In this way, the customer can have a 2m, 3m or more Liberty planter.

Also available will be a corner connecting table so that the customer can build a Liberty planter in any corner of their garden or patio, to create a seamless planting area. The 1m Liberty has a starting RRP of £199.99.

For further information about the Liberty range, as well as other products from VegTrug, visit www.vegtrug.com or call 01206 230025.

Liberty VegTrug

 

VegTrug Sponsor Skinny Jean Gardeners

VegTrug, the original, self contained, raised vegetable garden company has entered into a three year sponsorship deal with TV’s Skinny Jean Gardeners. Founded in January 2013, Skinny Jean Gardeners have become an influential voice in horticulture, reaching wide audiences through work with Jimmy’s Farm and across the BBC from Blue Peter to Radio 1. The team are also known for associations with Kew Gardens with their Grow Wild project and through in-store installations with top clothing brands.

Initially, VegTrug will be working with the Skinny Jean brothers, Dale and Lee Connolly on a series of personal appearances including live theatre slots at consumer shows such as Edible Gardening and Gardeners World Live. Dale and Lee who are 24 and 26 respectively will also be taking a proactive role in the company’s online inspiration and education programme, which promotes subjects such as ‘grow your own’ and ‘wildlife gardening’ to VegTrug fans the world over.

Commenting on the sponsorship, Chief Executive of VegTrug, Joe Denham said, “This is a great opportunity to associate the brand with a youthful yet opinion forming partnership such as Skinny Jean Gardeners. We are particularly excited about the impact it will have on our younger customers and their families as they are inspired to get into gardening.”


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The Big Interview with Joe Denham

VegTrug Ltd chief exectuive officer Joe Denham sat down with GUC’s Gregor Muir to discuss the company’s recent expansion into the US and why it emphasises consumer education. To read the full article go to http://content.yudu.com/A3o6ii/GCUMay2015/resources/index.htm?referrerUrl=http://www.emaildt.com/actions/?action=link&id=40885772&xi=DEFAULT&link=CPS004

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VegTrug Announce Appointment of Design Guru

VegTrug are delighted to announce the appointment of a new member of staff. Hayley Moisley joins the business in the UK this week as our new ‘Design Guru’. Having graduated from Brighton University Hayley brings a young and fresh approach to design and we are very excited to see her product ideas coming to fruition over the coming months and years.

Philippa Aldrich who leads the Designing for the Future project at the University of Brighton says: “We were aware of VegTrug through our inclusive design project and were delighted to be asked to help them develop their design capability by hiring one of our talented graduates as their new design guru. This is a fantastic opportunity for Hayley and we hope this exciting appointment will be a huge success. We look forward to working with VegTrug in the future”.

Hayley will be based in our Colchester Head Office and forms the basis of a product design investment plan which puts VegTrug firmly at the centre of the Takasho Group’s global design plans.

Joe Denham, CEO of VegTrug said, “we are planning the launch of an ‘Innovation and Design Centre of Excellence’ which will be the focus of the Group world-wide design strategy and the appointment of Hayley is central to our plans. We are building a young, dynamic team at VegTrug which will take the business forward as we open offices in the United States and continue to build the brand around the world. Look out for our new product launches later this year and throughout 2016.”

Joe, Hayley & Paul

VegTrug USA Inc open for Business!

The expansion is in response to overseas demand and follows another year of record sales in the UK, which has shown 32% growth. The move sees the UK company’s founding directors taking on new responsibilities. Paul Owen becomes Managing Director of the UK business and Vice President of the US business. Joe Denham becomes CEO in the UK and President & CEO of the US business. Kosuke Kuwabara has been appointed as General Manager of VegTrug USA Inc., which is based in Doylestown, Pennsylvania.

We attribute our continuing growth to the massive success of our iconic V-shaped product design, combined with the significant sourcing and manufacturing capabilities and investment of its parent, Japanese garden expert,Takasho. The V-shaped VegTrug design has a winning combination of aesthetic appeal and superior functionality over and above traditional raised beds, thanks to better soil depths for root crops and larger scale fruit and vegetable growing. It has given rise to a number of development products in materials such as aluminium and colourful foldaway synthetic felt (for the VegTrug Poppy) alongside the plantation grown cedar originals.

These have all proved GYO successes aimed at different price points and consumer lifestyle choices. Alongside GYO, the company has stretched the brand into birdcare and wildlife gardening and latterly, decorative structures with more development promised for the 2016 season. Committed to traditional garden retail routes to market, the company has a significant online presence through which it pioneers an extensive consumer education and demonstration programme.

Commenting on our own UK success and the latest USA venture, CEO, Joe Denham said, “The company is now five years old and our runaway success in the UK and Europe combined with the backing of Takasho over the last two years has demonstrated massive export opportunities. Opening a company in the USA is one of the ways in which we intend to maximise our potential globally and continue the mission to make VegTrug a global brand.”

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