Hello from Haxnicks
We are a friendly, enthusiastic company that have been designing, manufacturing and distributing garden care and plant protection products for many years. Professional, experienced and amateur gardeners all love to grow using our innovative, easy to use products.
Watch our Helpful Videos
We've put together a collection of Videos from our archives that demonstrate the great things our gardening products can do.
A-Z Grow Your Own Advice
- Beans - Climbing
- Beans - Dwarf
- Broad Beans
- Brussels Sprouts
- Chilli Peppers
- Courgettes / Zucchinis
- Onions (seeds)
- Onions (sets)
- Peas (and mangetout)
- Sweet Corn
- Zuchinnis / Courgettes
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- Pippa Greenwood (Horticulturist, grow-your-own TV and radio expert, garden writer)
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The News by Haxnicks
Grow at Home: Onions from sets
16th September 2019
It is also possible to grow them from seed which is very cost effective if you use a lot of onions. However, sets are a lot easier and quicker.
if you still want to grow from seed, check out our Grow at home: Onions from seed blog . If not, read on.
Onions grow best in open ground. However, they do grow well in containers. Just choose a deep planter to allow room for the developing onions. Potato planters work very well if you only have a small space. A Raised Bed System that comes with a cover to protect them would also work if you have more room.
Wherever you plant them, onions need a sunny, sheltered site with fertile, well-drained soil. For best results test your soil . Inexpensive kits are available from your garden centre to make sure the pH is above 6.5. You may need to improve the soil before planting. A bucket of well-rotted manure or garden compost to every square metre (yard) and some general purpose fertiliser will do the trick.
You can buy your onion sets from your garden Centre. There are many different varieties to choose from. So, select something that you would like. Maybe something out of the ordinary like giant onions that you can show off, red onions for a bit of colour or shallots for your winters stews.
When to plant your Onions
You can plant onions in spring or autumn. Depending on their final size, plant the onion sets 5-25cm (2-10in) apart in rows 25-30cm (10-12in) apart from mid-March to mid-April for spring planting.
Autumn onions should be planted in mid September to mid October. They will pretty much look after themselves over the winter. You need to take care as they have a long growing season and won't be ready for harvesting until next summer. As a result they will still be in the ground when you start planting other crops in spring.
There are two ways to plant: either directly into your ground or planter or into Rootrainers.
Which you use depends on the number of birds you have in your area. Birds can be a problem lifting the new sets. They aren't after the sets themselves but the earth worms that congregate in the microbe rich area around the roots (see this interesting blog about what goes on in the Rhizosphere for more info.) Starting your sets in Rootrainers means by the time that you plant them out the roots will be strong enough to keep your plants where you planted them!
If you choose to plant direct into the ground or planter then either cover with a Fleece Tunnel or stretch some Birdscare across your bed until the roots are established. This will give the plants time to establish and be too firm for birds to pull out.
However you choose to plant do it by gently pushing the sets into soft, well-worked soil so that the pointed tip is just showing, and firm the soil around them.
Weeding and Watering Onions
It is important to keep the weeds down as this can affect the size of your onions. Water when dry and give an occasional feed with a general liquid fertiliser. Stop watering and feeding once the onions have swollen in mid summer
When the leaves start to turn yellow at the ends, you can bend the tops over to help with the ripening. Some gardeners swear by this but not everyone agrees with it any more so you may want to try it and see how you get on.
Remove any flower spikes as soon as you see them.
Harvest & Storage
Onions can be harvested when the foliage starts to turn yellow and topple over. For spring planted sets this will be in late summer to early autumn. And for winter planted sets this will be early to mid summer.
Lift the bulbs as you need them, ideally before the foliage completely dies down. Importantly, don’t let them rot in the ground so harvest and store them before the end of October. After you lift them let them lie on a rack in the sun outdoors or a well-ventilated greenhouse for one to two weeks to ripen fully. They are ready for storage once the foliage is dry and papery,
Only store the onions that are perfect. Store them either in natural jute Vegetable Sacks hung up or in old tights knotting after each onion. They can keep in a well aired room for up to six months.
Pest & Diseases
Fungal diseases are the main problem for onions. White Onion rot, Leek Rust and Onion Downy mildew are the main culprits.
There is little you can do about any of these once they have taken hold so prevention is the answer. Use the correct spacings to make sure there is plenty of light and air around each plant as humidity will encourage the spread of fungus. Weed regularly and avoid overhead watering if possible. Remove infected leaves and dispose of away from the garden. Fungus can be transported in contaminated soil, for example on muddy tools or boots. So take particular care not to pass it on to the next garden or allotment when you visit.
When peeling chopped onions, either use a ceramic knife - the extra sharpness means less crushing and so less vapour. Or light a couple of candles. The candle flames should absorb most of the vapours from the onions and stop your eyes watering, .
Grow at Home: Turnips
9th September 2019
Although the root is normally round, cylindrical root shapes are not uncommon in earlier varieties and colours can range from white to yellow and purple.
Where to grow turnips
Turnips thrive in firm, fertile soil that retains moisture. Dig in the autumn and incorporate plenty of well rotted manure or garden compost to help retain moisture.
Grow best in a sunny position but can tolerate some degree of shade.
As always, especially with root crops, rotate your planting to avoid soil-borne pests and diseases.
For an early crop, start by sowing under cloches in late winter - Easy Tunnel or Lantern Cloches would both work well and will also help protect spring sowings from particularly harsh spells of weather.
Sow thinly in rows 1cm deep with 20 cm between rows. For the early crops and thin to around 15cm apart after germination. Successional sowing during spring and summer will ensure a steady supply.
For turnips to be harvested in autumn or winter sow in late summer to the same depth but thin to 20cm between rows for a slightly larger root.
Water regularly to prevent bolting. Keep rows weed free using a Speedhoe
Harvesting and Storage
Pick turnips harvested in summer when they are the size of a golf ball - don't allow them to become woody and they will taste better when picked young.
Leave autumn and winter varieties in the ground and harvest when required. Alternatively lift and store in moist sand in a shed or garage or even easier, in a natural jute bag such as the Haxnicks Vegetable Sacks. (Great for your potatoes and carrots too!)
Turnip Pests and Diseases
They are prone to the same pests and diseases as cabbages; mainly flea beetle. You should avoid growing in ground previously used for brassicas and cabbages, considering turnips in the same group when planning crop rotation.
Violet rot and clubroot can be a problem which can be prevented by good crop rotation. To combat it destroy any affected plants on the bonfire or dispose of away from the garden.
Grow at Home: Kale
26th August 2019
It is also highly nutritious and full of green goodness. In times gone by it was used to feed cattle during the winter but now, cooked in the right way, it makes a delicious addition to your plate. You can also eat the small leaves in a salad if you pick them when they are young and tender.
Sow seeds from March to May ½” (1cm) deep in 4"-5" (10-12cm) Pots in the greenhouse or on a windowsill. When the seedlings appear prick out the weakest leaving only 1 strong plant per pot. Transplant the seedlings to their final positions from May onwards when they are about 3-6” (6-12cm) tall.
Or sow direct into the seedbed from April to August ½” (1cm) deep in rows 1'-2' (30cm-60cm) apart.
Planting Out & Growing
When the plants are 6" (6-12cm) tall, and have 5 or 6 true leaves, plant them out placing the lower leaves at ground level. Water well both before and after planting and mulch to retain moisture for best results.
If you intend to eat fully grown kale, plant out in rows 2’ (60cm) apart. But to eat earlier, when the leaves are younger and more tender, make the rows 1’ (30cm) apart.
Cover with a Lantern Cloches or an Easy Poly Tunnel to protect them from weather and pests.
Harvest the crop from November to April cutting the leaves off as you need them. Sometimes they can grow again after they have been cut.
Store in a cool place and they will last for about 10 days. Or blanch, cut up, place in a freezer bag and then put in the deep freezer.
Many people want to like Kale but find they just don't and this could be because they are not preparing it right. So here are 3 top tips for making your Kale more lovable.
- Remove the stems - the stems of kale are bitter, chewy and frankly not very nice. So fold the leaves in half and slice out that stem before preparing.
- Tenderise a little - the leaves are also tough so you need to massage them to break down some of those tough cell walls before you eat. Just a couple of minutes of handling will make it far more palatable.
- If you are using it for a salad rather than cooking then use an acidic dressing -including something like cider or balsamic vinegar. This will help to break it down and soften it to make it nicer to eat.
Watch out for slugs when the plants are small and for caterpillars and aphid later on. Birds can also be a problem finding both the seedlings and the buds tasty.
Prevention is always better than cure though. So using cloches and tunnels to cover the plants is advisable. Then it should be a small job to pinch off any pests that get through your defenses.
Another good idea is to plant nasturtiums nearby as they attract white butterflies and keep them off your kale and other brassicas.