Love to Grow

  • Grow at home: how to ripen green tomatoes

    Ripening tomatoes

    Ripening tomatoes is something that most people growing tomatoes end up doing.  Due to our climate it is not at all unusual to be left with tomatoes that haven't ripened.

    Preparing for the end of the Season

    beef_tomatoes_half_ripe_on_vine

    From September on, any new flowers are very unlikely to come to anything.  So, toward the end of the season remove any tiny tomatoes, flowers and foliage.  This will allow the plant to concentrate its energy on the bigger fruits.  It is best to leave the fruit on the vine for as long as possible.  However, fruit will not ripen below 10° C (50°F). or above 29ºC (85ºF), as carotene and lycopene will not be produced and the tomato will not turn red.  The high temperatures are generally not a problem in the UK.  But when day time temperatures are low its time to step in and help them to ripen.

    Ripening Tomatoes - How long does it take?

    How long they'll take depends on how red they are already.  Tomatoes ripen from inside out so when you see the skin turning colour, the inside is already well on the way to being ripe.  As a guide:-

    Half red tomatoes  - 7 days

    Red only on the ends - 14 days

    Pale green - ripen if given the right conditions (see Methods below)

    Dark green - if they haven't matured then they will not ripen.  To test this cut one in half.  if it has yellowish interiors and jelly-like or sticky tissue, then it could ripen.  But if not then its better to use these for making chutney.

    Did you know:?

    ripening_tomatoes_green_red_tomatoes_on_plant

    This is just for info a there is not much you can do about the weather turning against you and being left with green tomatoes! But, there is a stage in ripening called the "breaker stage," when the tomato is half green and half red. Once the tomato reaches this stage it seals itself off from the vine stem.  From this point on, the tomato can be picked and ripened indoors without losing flavour.  Your green tomatoes will be sweeter if picked after the breaker stage.

    Ripening tomatoes - top 5 methods

    Method 1 : Newspaper & Cardboard box

    If the tomatoes are dirty then wash them gently and air dry.  Wrap the tomatoes individually in newspaper and store in a cardboard box at between 14° and 21°C.  The lower you keep the temperature the longer they will take to ripen.  So if you have a large number you may wish to store them in different boxes and places so that you don't get them all ripening at once.  Check the box weekly to take out any ripe ones and get rid of any that are starting to go mangy.

    If you are impatient then speed ripening by adding a couple of apples to your box.  They will release ethylene which will help the tomatoes to ripen.

    Method 2: Paper Bag

    This one is probably better for cherry tomatoes.  Who wants to wrap those little suckers individually - not me!  For this method, place your tomatoes in a paper bag with a ripening banana (yellow with green ends).  Loosely seal it to keep the gas in.  As with the apples in Method 1, doing this should help ripen your tomatoes.  If the banana really starts to rot before the tomatoes ripen then replace it with a new banana.  You can also do this in a jar with a sealing lid instead of a paper bag but you can't cram the tomatoes in as they will bruise so unless you only have a few tomatoes it is probably better to use a paper bag.

    Method 3: Hanging the plant

    hanging_tomatoes_in_shed

    If you have room, simply cut off the leaves and dig up your tomato plant.  Shake off the soil and hang it upside down in a cool dry place like a garage out of direct light and leave to ripen. Check regularly and bring a few into the warmer house to ripen quicker when needed.

    Method 4: Bring on the Stress!

    As you reach the end of the season, take off all the leaves and then make a cut through the roots with a shovel.  This will stress the plant and make it react  as if it is under attack (which it is!) and it should bring on rapid ripening.  Some gardeners swear by this 'shock' method.

    If this feels too violent for you then a careful pull upwards at the bottom of the stem will disturb the roots below and may also work to signal the plant to ripen the fruit.

    Another way to stress the plant is to cut back on water - just make sure that the soil doesn’t get too dry or the next time you water, skins may split.

    Avoid feeding late in the season as any feed with excess nitrogen will slow the ripening process.

    Method 5: Socks!!
    Place your unripened tomatoes in woolen socks and store in your wardrobe!  And then do let us know if this works because we have no evidence that it does!

    How to avoid this problem next year

    The question is how do you avoid this happening next year?  The answer is to get yourself a longer growing season with more "tomato friendly" conditions.  Haxnicks can't control the weather but we do have a number of tools to help with this.

    The Twist Up Tomato ClocheHaxnoicks_Twist_Up_Tomato_for_ripening_tomatoes

    Once your plants are ready to go out into the garden why not use the Twist Up Tomato Cloche to give them their perfect growing environment.

    You can use it over plants in pots or in the ground.  For both it will lengthen your growing season by allowing you to put your plants out earlier than you would if they were unprotected.  The Cloche, evens out temperature changes and, apart from taking it off for a short spell for pollination, your plant will be happy in it all season.  It really comes into its own at ripening though.  Each ripening fruit releases ethylene which helps the other tomatoes to ripen.  If its windy then this gas is blown away without affecting the other fruit.  In a Twist up Tomato Cloche the gas is trapped and helps all of your fruit to turn a delicious red.

    Tomato Crop Booster Haxnicks_Tomato_crop_booster_frame_with_cover_on_patio_for_ripening_tomatoes

    If you really love your tomatoes then this is a great way to grow them.  The  Crop Booster Poly cover gives all the advantages of the Tomato Cloches when it comes to ripening but the main advantage is how the Crop booster Frame supports the plants.  Properly supported plants are able to concentrate their energy into fruit production leading to a much greater yield of tomatoes.  Giving them the conditions they need throughout the season should mean far less green tomatoes to deal with at this time of year.

    Watch this helpful video to see it 'in action' How to Grow Juicy Tomatoes

    Grower Frame with Poly CoverHaxnicks_Grower_frame_with_poly_cover_for_ripeing_tomatoes

    The Grower Frame is a quick, easy and affordable way to make the perfect, low maintenance, ‘grow your own’ space in any sized garden.  And tomatoes love it.

    Especially useful if you don't have a greenhouse as you can start your tomatoes off in it using the Grower Frame Poly cover to give them the warmth they need to start well.  You can then use the frame and cover over them in the final planting position.  There should be enough space to grow all your other salad ingredients alongside them too and there is also the option of an ultra fine Micromesh cover if the weather gets too hot but you still need to protect from pests.

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

  • Grow at Home: Winter veg planting

    Now the main growing season is nearly over I'm sure you  - especially if you are new to veg growing - are wondering what to plant now.  Well, winter veg planting is not as straightforward as you might think.

    What it reminds me of is a well-known joke about a tourist who asks one of the locals for directions. The local replies: ‘Well sir, if I were you, I wouldn’t start from here’.

    Why? you ask.

    Well, the traditional 'winter' veg such as brussels sprouts, leeks and parsnips are actually sown much earlier in the year. Don't worry though, there are still plenty of vegetables to grow.

    Autumn / Winter Veg planting & the Soil

    It is good to think ahead to what is going on in the soil in winter.  When temperatures drop and the soil cools below 5°C in November, there won’t be any growth until the following Spring (March/April). Virtually none.

    So whilst Autumn is still productive in the vegetable garden, growth slows dramatically in October before grinding to a halt in November.  There are ways to extend the season like using a greenhouse or keeping the soil and plants warm with a Easy Poly Tunnel.  All in all though, the short days, cold temperatures and 'locked away' water means growth outside is going to be minimal.

    What veg can I plant in September?

    There are really 3 main groups of autumn winter vegetables and it’s handy to understand these so that you can plan your veg.  Some vegetables can fit into more than one category depending on the variety you choose so pay attention to the recommended planting dates to make sure you get the right one.

    Autumn Vegetables

    These are still up for grabs for planting and eating this year.  Autumn veg are planted in August/September but grow quickly so that they are harvested before growth stops in November. These include salad crops, turnips, spinach, Swiss Chard and radish.  Plant now and they can fill up your beds and give you some nutritious veg in the short days of winter.

    a

     

    Autumn Overwintering Vegetables

    These are planted in September time but won't be harvested until Spring.  They will become dormant in the ground over Winter.  Then come Spring, when the temperatures rise in March/ April time, they will start growing again. These include Spring Cabbage, garlic and onion sets.  Some of them need a period of cold to grow properly for example garlic needs a period of 6 weeks below 10° C for the bulb to divide and form into cloves.

    You can also overwinter broad beans and peas. If you do this they will crop about a month earlier.  Good if a) you really like peas and beans and want to eat them for longer or b) you are a competitive gardener and want to beat your neighbour to the crop!

    Spring Overwintering Vegetables

    Now these are the ones that are traditionally winter veg but in fact should have planted months ago.   These have a long growing season and are ready in the winter months but require planning make this happen. Sowing season is around April (Sprouts) to June (Leeks) if you are going to be having them for Christmas Lunch.

    So, what veg can I plant in September?

    Here is a list of 12 candidates for you to consider.  You can either grow from seed or may even be able to pick up plug plants from your local garden centre.

    Autumn Vegetables

    • Kohl Rabi
    • Turnip
    • Radish
    • Onion
    • Spring Onion
    • Oriental Salads
    Overwinter Spring harvest
    • Garlic
    • Spring Cabbage
    • Broad Beans
    • Kale
    • Chard 
    • Perpetual Spinach

    Let us know what you decide to go for in the comments...

  • Product Bites: Easy Fleece Tunnels

    What are Easy Fleece Tunnels:

    closed_fleece_tunnel_with_carrotsEasy Fleece Tunnels are growing tunnels that warms the air around your plants and protects them from frost and harsh weather. They also:-

    • Lock in moisture
    • Protect from pests
    • Prevent sun scorching on hotter days
    • Warm the soil ready for sowing

    Easy Fleece Tunnels™ are manufactured from U.V. stabilised 45gsm heavyweight polypropylene fleece and rust resistant galvanised steel hoops.  The high quality fleece material creates warmth and insulation whilst allowing moisture and sunlight to filter through amking it an ideal growing environment.

    What crop are they for:

    Ideal for spring vegetables such as: Beetroot, Carrot, Cauliflower, Courgette, Lettuce, Mar-row, Pepper, Potato, Tomato and Radish.

    The Giant Fleece Tunnel is especially good for starting off brassicas like your Christmas Brussels Sprouts.  It will protect them while they are young and tender.

    Where can I use Easy Fleece Tunnels:

    They are suitable to use all over the garden.  Simply push into the soil where required.

    What's so special about it?

    fleece_tunnel_putting_out_still_concertinaedOne of the advantages of these particular tunnels is that they do not need ground pegs.  As with all Haxnicks tunnels, peg the steel hoops straight into the ground to keep the tunnel firmly in place.

    Another major advantage is that after use the tunnels fold up neatly for storage.  It you keep the original packaging then you can just fold them flat and hang on a nail in the shed until they are needed again next season. Then they can be reused again and again.

    Find out more: 

    See it in action: To see it in action head over to our YouTube channel Easy Tunnels

    Related Blogs:  Read about it in use Grow at Home: Spring Cabbages

    Buy it Now:  See them here Easy Fleece Tunnels or Giant Easy Fleece Tunnels for your taller crops.


     

  • Grow at Home: The 'No Dig' method of gardening

    spade_in_soil_no_dig_gardeningPut simply ‘No dig’ is exactly that - a means of gardening without digging over the plot each year.

    It is a a gardening method that is gaining popularity in sustainable gardening and farming communities around the world.  It is the passion of award winning expert and writer Charles Dowding who runs courses on his farm in Somerset.  In these he shares the technique with hundreds of new gardeners every year.

    The basic principle of ‘No Dig is that rather than seeking to cultivate soil we should leave it to manage this process on its own. By simply weeding at surface level, minimising disruption to the soil and keeping the structure intact you can achieve a perfectly balanced medium for gardening.  This will allow you to enjoy fantastic results, with a lot less back breaking work!

    For years we have been told the secret to success is to dig over your soil and ‘improve’ it.  The basis of this is that this promotes healthy soil and discourages weeds.

    In fact, Charles Dowding’s research suggests the opposite is true. His work shows that intensive ‘dig’ cultivation is actually harmful to the soil.  It promotes weed growth and leads to a reduction in crop production.  And of course, it uses a lot of time and energy!

    With a ‘No dig’ garden you only disturb the soil to plant seedlings and undertake some light hoeing.  A Speedhoe or SpeedHoe Precision depending on the size of your bed will give you that light touch across the surface. The only extra work is to add a compost mulch once a year and that’s it!

    How to Start 'No Dig'

    Careful preparation of your growing area is the key.   Starting with the removal/smothering of weeds, followed by a thick mulch of cardboard then compost.  Your bed might be out of action for 6 months to a year so it might be best to do this one bed or portion of the garden at a time so you can carry on growing.

    wheelbarrow_,mulch_no_digMulching

    For those new to gardening - mulches are loose coverings or sheets of material placed on the surface of soil. They can be biodegradable matter such as compost, bark or cardboard.  Or they can be non biodegradable matter such as gravel, sheets of cardboard, lino or landscaping weed barrier fabrics.

    Whatever mulch you use, the purpose of mulching is to save water, suppress weeds and improve the soil around plants.  It also gives your garden a neat, tidy appearance and can reduce the amount of time spent on tasks such as watering and weeding.

     

    Initial Preparation

    The key steps are:

    • Clear the site a little if needed - there is no need to remove weeds, with the exception of tough woody species such as brambles which should be cut out as much as possible so that it is flat enough to lay your cardboard.
    • We recommend cardboard as it will decompose.  Avoid plastic as they may break down into microplastics which will stay in your soil.  Carpet is often used but these days most carpet has been treated with chemicals which will poison the soil so its not a good option.
    • Lay your thick layer of cardboard and cover with mulch.  The mulch could be one or more of: homemade compost, fully-rotted manure, leaves or grass mowings.  You need about a 15 - 20 cms (6" - 8") layer.  The aim is to exclude the light so the weds can't grow.
    • Most perennial weeds will be weakened and then killed off with the cardboard and mulch. Ground Elder, Bindweed and Mares Tail might need some additional hoeing, but all will be weakened over time.
    • Now all you have to do is wait!  It can take 6 months to a year for all the weeds to die off.

    Maintenance

    The focus is on feeding and looking after the soil, rather than the plants – the No Dig principle is that organic matter is all you need to provide all the nutrients for a healthy crop, fed by the soil.

    • The mulch needs topping up each year to enrich the soil..  So, lay a layer of compost about 8cm (3") thick (laid on top - no digging in)
    • Keep a clean and tidy plot - remove damaged leaves and hoe regularly to reduce the chances of pests
    • Plant closely and harvest regularly leaving less space for weeds to grow and maximise your crop.

    Whether you’re new to gardening and have always been put off by tales of backbreaking work or have been working your plot for years and keen to try something new – give No Dig a go!

    Find out more about Charles Dowding and his work on his website https://charlesdowding.co.uk/

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

  • Haxnicks Gardening Tips for September

    I can't believe August is over already but here are my gardening tips for September.  Firstly, keep on picking peas and beans.  Like their ornamental relative the sweetpea, they really are more productive if you keep on picking! Give some to friends and neighbours, and pop some in the freezer if you can’t keep up!

    Herbs

    herb-wall-planter Up, up and away - herbs are go!

    Even the simplest cheese sandwich or the most basic meal can be transformed by the addition of a few fresh herbs. There’s nothing to beat the gorgeous flavours and ‘zing’ that home grown herbs can add to your cooking.  The great thing is that it is simple to grow your own….right now!

    Forget those dried up greyish green crispy flakes of herbs that lurk in little bottles and boxes on the supermarket shelves.  Grab some compost and a good sized container and get growing your own real herbs with REAL flavour! Use an existing container or buy something special.  But remember, herbs don't need a deep container so you can use one of the Shallow Oxford Planters. If space is short and you have a sunny wall then you could go for an eight-pocket Herb Wall Planter.  Just think eight different herbs to choose from!

    Veg

    Ripe_ Pumpkin_with_dead_leavesAt this stage things are really slowing up so you’ll want to look after the plants really well. Pick off the fading flowers on courgettes and squash if the weather is damp.  If left in place they’re likely to cause the crop to rot.  You may need to remove badly mildewed leaves too.  Leave anything which is basically green on the plant as it’ll still be ‘useful’ and help to feed those slower growing fruits.

    Flowers

    Plant up some containers with spring-flowering bulbs. A good idea is to use a single variety of either daffodils or tulips for impact.  They will look absolutely gorgeous and make a very striking and bold display. Plant the container up in two layers.  So that one lot of bulbs is planted a couple of inches deeper than the next layer.  If you do this you should find that the display is prolonged slightly as the deeper ones will be flowering somewhat later.

    So that's it for September gardening tips.   Enjoy yourselves in the garden

  • Product Bite: Vigoroot Potato/Tomato Planters

    What are Vigoroot Potato/Tomato Planters:

    Vigoroot_potato/Tomato_planterVigoroot Potato/ Tomato Planters are air-pruning planters that offer a super easy way to grow bigger plants such as potatoes and tomatoes.

    What crop are they for:

    They are mainly used for potatoes and tomatoes but could any root veg  such as carrots or parsnips where the added depth will allow them to thrive.  You could even grow fruit trees such as damsons in them.

    They take 40 Litres of compost and will take 3 seed potatoes or two large tomato plants.

    Where can I use them:

    Use anywhere in the garden, patio, balcony or terrace.  They are 35cm in daimeter so you only need a tiny space to get growing.

    What's so special about it?

    Pink_potato_flower Potato flower

    The Vigoroot fabric is what makes them special.  The magic of this fabric comes from its ability to ‘air-prune’ the roots of plants, dramatically changing their formation and their ability to sustain the plant in a limited volume of compost. It encourages more vigorous rooting, which enables the plants to absorb more nutrients. It prevents the roots from growing too long, and helps prevent plants from becoming ‘pot-bound’ which would normally limit the plants’ growth. This means that the plants can grow to a much larger size in a relatively small pot.

    The super strong root system also helps the plants to become more resistant to harsh weather, pests and diseases. Used for many years by commercial growers, the benefits of air-pruning technology are well recognised by the trade.

    They also take all the hard work out of growing potatoes.  There is no digging to prepare the bed and come harvest time you simply tip the planter over and pull out the potatoes. 

    Find out more: 

    See it in action: To see it in action head over to our YouTube channel Vigoroot Patio Planters

    Related Blogs:  Read about it in use Grow at Home: Damsons or Grow at Home: Broad Beans

    Buy it Now:  See them here Vigoroot Potato/Tomato Planters

     

  • What things grow in Winter? How to keep kids gardening all year

    So you have taken advantage of Lockdown to grow things as a family.  Your kids have been watching their sunflowers tower above them and stealing cherry tomatoes and cucamelons from the vine but what things grow in winter?  

    Winter is actually a great time to get kids involved.  They will just need a little more patience as some of what you will be planting will be for Spring.  There are plenty of little jobs to keep them going though.

    Garden Jobs

    growing_in_winter_boy_with_watering_can_watering_plantsBelow you will see lots of things that you can plant over winter.  The list is not exhaustive but it should be enough to keep the patch producing.  But added to this there are other tasks that have to carry on.

    Weeding

    Your overwintering veg needs to contend with the weather.  It shouldn't have to compete with weeds too though.  So it is good to get your little one to regularly weed their bit of the patch so the nasty weed don't take over.  Caution: you may need to help them understand what is weed so that all your spring onions aren't accidentally weeded out!

    Watering

    Even though it can be wet there may be times that you need to water too.  Especially when you are growing in containers.  Get them their own mini watering can and your little one can help with this.

    Planning

    If the weather is bad and you really can't get out then planning your planting is a great way to keep kids involved.  They can look over seed catalogues and pick out what they would like to grow then make drawings or collages of the plot and how it will look.  Maybe imagine how a little raised bed all of their own will be planted.

    Build a Bug Hotel

    Bugs are always fascinating so use twigs and things from around the garden to make your own little bug hotel.  Hours of fun, counting bugs and identifying which bugs have made their home there.

    Look after the Wildlife

    Wildlife is part of the garden's ecosystem so look after the birds by giving them food and water over the winter.  And they will return to eat the caterpillars from your plants in the Spring and Summer.  You could even put up bird boxes and make a hedgehog house if you have the time and space.

    Veg that Grow in Winter

    Swiss_chard_growing_in_winterSo on to what you can plant....

    Swiss chard

    Swiss chard is a fabulous colourful veg and now is the perfect time to plant it. It is a cool season crop so put in plug plants now and then plant the seeds 2 to 3 weeks before the last spring frost date.  It is ideal for containers too so you can plant it right outside the kitchen door.  Harvest it as a “cut-and-come-again” crop and use it as you would spinach.

    Onions & Garlic

    Plant over-winter onion and garlic bulbs which will be ready to harvest next year. Find out how here Grow at Home: onions from Sets and Grow at Home; Garlic

    Chilies & Peppers

    January is a great time to start to grow chilli plants on a warm windowsill.  Check out how to grow them here.  Grow at Home: chilli Peppers and once they are started in about February you can start off your pepper plants. Grow at home: Sweet Bell Peppers/ Capsicum

    Mushrooms

    What could be more fun than growing Mushrooms?  Do these at any time over the winter - just find a spot where they aren't going to dry out and you are away.  There are several ways to grow them which are all covered in this blog so take a look if you fancy your own mushroom farm Grow at Home: Mushrooms.

    Microgreens

    This is another indoor growing activity that could get your kids trying all sorts of veg (without knowing it!) You can grow most veg such as beetroot, peas, rocket, cress, broccoli, chard, cauliflower, cabbage.  You just eat them when they are very young sprinkled on sandwiches, pasta, soup etc.  It is a great one to balance all the waiting for things to sprout in Spring as they are ready to eat in a few weeks.

    Top Tip: microgreens seeds come in packs of 100s of seeds as you need quite a few of them.  They cost about the same as regular seed packets though so are much cheaper 'per seed'.  They are the same seeds you would get in the regular packets though so keep a few to fill your veg garden next year.

    You can read about it here Grow at Home: nutritious Microgreens or see the mats in action over on our YouTube Channel Microgreens Growing Mats 

     

    Flowers

    Spring_crocus_growing_in_winter_gardenFlowers are important in your garden as they attract pollinators which you need for veg growing.  Certain types can also ideal as Companion Planting to deter pests form eating your crops.   And of course they look pretty.

    Bulbs

    For Spring colour now is the time to plant flower bulbs - crocus, snowdrop, daffodil and tulip are all easy for children to plant. They can also be grown in pots if you don't have space.  Just show them which way up they go and you are away.  To keep things moving set up a production line with one person digging the hole and the next planting the bulb.  Then swap when they (and you!) inevitably get bored.

    Seeds

    This is one for right now and the kids will love it.  Get them to collect seeds from - Sweet Peas, Sunflowers, Love in the Mist, Poppies, Calendula or Lupin.  Dry them out and label them so that you can sow them when Spring comes.  If you aren't growing any of these then ask neighbours if you could collect any they aren't using.  The advantage of this is that if they are growing well in your neighbours gardens then they will likely grow well in yours as you'll have similar soil.  You can also look out along the road side.  You may find the odd poppy or other flower that has sprouted where it shouldn't.

    Trees

    You could even think big and grow a tree!  Trees grow in winter so take an apple pip, an acorn or a horse chestnut and plant them in a little pot.  They will be fine outside as they need the cold to germinate. Then come Spring you will start to see your own mini forest!

    Left Overs

    carrot_tops_growing_in_winter_from_leftoversIf you want a low cost way to keep your gardening going during winter then you can start to grow veg from your left overs.

    Place cut carrot tops in a shallow dish of water and they will sprout - you can use the tops as fresh carrot flavoured leaves for salads and soups.  You could also regrow lettuce and celery from the base in the same way.

    Try growing orange or lemon pips in a little pot.

    What did you do?

    So, there are plenty of things that can keep you and your little ones on your growing journey.  I hope this has inspired you.

    This blog was produced as a direct result of a request from one of our Instagram followers @shedsews so if you have an idea for a blog or a gardening subject that is really puzzling you then do let us know. We would also love to hear what you will try to grow in winter - whether it is one of the ideas here or something of your own.  Please comment or tag Haxnicks in your picture so we can see what worked and share it with others!

  • Grow at Home: How to harvest pumpkins. Is my pumpkin ripe?

    Is my pumpkin ripe?

    multi_coloured_pumpkinWhat colour is a ripe pumpkin?  The answer is ususally orange but they can come in shades or grey, blue or white and some are even stripey.

    But generally colour is a pretty good indicator - if it is orange all the way round then it is pretty likely to be ripe.  However, it you've grown something a bit different then it is important to hold on to the seed packet so you know what colour to expect.

    Whatever colour it is there are other ways to check if your pumpkin is ripe though.

    1. The Rind - the rind will be hard if the pumpkin is ripe. To test its readiness try to pierce the skin with your fingernail.  It should be strong enough to resist puncture so if the skin dents but doesn’t puncture, the pumpkin is ready to pick.
    2. The Sound - a ripe pumpkin will sound hollow.  So try tapping it.  Listen for a hollow sound and that will tell you that it is ripe.
    3. The Stem - when the stem above the pumpkin becomes hard this is another indicator that your pumkin is ripe.

    How to harvest Pumpkins

    Harvesting correctly is important if you want to store the pumpkin for later use. There are some key steps.

    1. Try and harvest when it is ripe.  Pumpkins harvested too early will still ripen but are more prone to rot.  You may want to harvest early if there is a chance of frost but otherwise try and leave them until they are ripe
    2. Pick a dry day - pumpkins harvested when wet are agian more likely to rot.
    3. Use a sharp knife so you do not leave a jagged cut on the stem.  A jagged cut will allow disease to get into your pumpkin which could cause it to rot.
    4. Leave at least several inches of stem attached to the pumpkin.  Again to prevent disease.
    5. Clean the pumpkin - after you harvest the pumpkin, wipe it down with a 10 percent bleach solution to kill any organisms on the skin. You might want to rinse it before eating but the bleach solution will evaporate in a few hours so will not be harmful.
    6. Store in a cool dark place out of direct sunlight.  Pumpkins will continue to ripen once off the vine (see section below) so if yours is already ripe it needs to be out of the sun.

    Will a pumpkin ripen once picked?

    If you wondered, do pumpkins ripen after picking? Then the answer is Yes.  If your pumpkins are still green, there are a few things you can do to ripen them.  Especially useful if you want them nice and orange for Halloween.

    pumpkin_yellow_stripedPumpkin Ripening Ins and Outs

    The speed a pumpkin ripens at - both on and off the vine - depends on the temperature and the amount of sun it gets. Its fairly logical: quicker when its warm and the sun is out and slower when it is cold and dull.

    Sun

    So even after pumpkins are picked they need as much sun as possible.  The best place to put them is an open space facing South.

    Make sure the pumpkins are kept free from dust and dirt by wiping them occassionally.  You don't want anything blocking the suns rays, especailly if those are few and far between.

    Make sure that the sun gets to the whole pumpkin by rotating them every day.

    Temperature

    Another problem with ripening pumpkins is the weather. Temperature drops will cause ripening to slow.  If possible, move your pumpkins inside the house on nights when temperatures drop below freezing. Returning them back outside if the weather is set to be sunny.  Or, if there is no sign of good weather store the pumpkins inside in a warm, airy room with large windows and plenty of direct sunlight. This way the pumpkin will continue to ripen.

    carved_pumpkins_on_stepsStorage

    The best storage temperature is a cool 10-12° C (50-55° F)

    A healthy, disease free pumpkin can be stored for 8 to 12 weeks.

    Your traditional Halloween Jack-o-lanterns don't last as long though.  Possibly due to the size but you are looking at a week to 10 days for these.  As an aside, if you are carving and not eating them then giving them another 2 minute soak in bleach solution once carved will also prolong your art work over Halloween.

    For further info on growing pumpkins check out this blog Grow at Home: Perfect Pumpkins

    Oh and before you go, if you are looking for something to do with your pumpkin seeds check out this post What to do with Pumpkin seeds

     

  • Product Bite: Bamboo Plant Markers

    What are Bamboo Plant Markers:  

    new_rpoduct_2019_bamboo_plant_markerHow do you mark a vegetable garden?  Bamboo Plant Markers are a set of three labels that will allow you to mark what you have planted where.

    It is easy to mix up seeds once planted and be left guessing as to how to care for your emerging plants.  These Markers take away the worry when using seed trays, planting in rows or even placing specimen plants.  They have a life span of around 3+ years and are biodegradable and fully home compostable after use.

    What's so special about it?

    The material we make the markers from is its real selling point.   Is bamboo a good material?  Yes it is!  It is the fastest-growing woody plant in the world. It can grow up to four feet in one day and to do so it needs no pesticides and little water compared to other crops.  Our markers are made from sustainable bamboo with natural resin made from rice.  This material is free from petroleum-based plastics and BPA and a great way to help reduce plastic in the garden.

    How do i lable my plants?

    If you are already using plastic plant markers then keep using them until they wears out (or get lost!).   However, if you have muddled up your seeds this year and are womdering 'what can i use for plant markers?' then these are the best choice.

    Find out more: 

    See it in action: The markers don't have their own video yet but they are made from the same material as our bamboo pots and seed trays.  You can find out more about it including how to dispose of it after use over on our YouTube channel Bamboo Range

    Related Blogs:  Read about it in use New sustainable gardening tools

    Buy it Now:  See the full range here Bamboo & Sustainable Gardening

     

  • Gardening Tips for August from Pippa Greenwood

    Still Time for Salad

    August_gardening_tips_fullframe_of_mixed_salad_leavesThe first of my August gardening tips is for the kitchen.  If you’ve ever been to the supermarket on a sunny weekend, you’ll know just how difficult it can be to get hold of the ingredients you need for a delicious salad.  Plus all too often those bagged salads are rather the worse for wear too.  So why not save the hassle, save the petrol and enjoy an even tastier, juicer (far fresher) and more delicious salad that you’ve grown yourself?

    Provided the compost is moist, they grow at a surprising speed too.  It is that magical combination of a warm (but not too hot) and moist soil which gets the seeds germinating.  Then the seedlings put on growth at an amazing rate.  In no time at all you’ll have a really scrumptious and very tender crop for you to harvest as and when you need it.  No more bags of supermarket salad leaves going soggy in the fridge.  When you grow your own there is always a supply to be had.  Much fresher more tender and packed full of health-giving ingredients than you’d find in bag!

    Feeding & Watering

    August_gardening-tips_Pippa_greenwood_with_yellow_rose

    Make sure that you feed flowering and fruiting plants now.  The best thing is a liquid, high potash feed such as one sold for use on tomatoes.  That way you can use it on your edibles and your ornamentals.

    The potash will help to encourage more flowers to form and even at this time of year there should still be more potential from most crops.  Watering well before you feed is essential as the soil or compost should be moist first.  Try to avoid wetting the leaves and flowers with the fertiliser.  On a hot, sunny day even plain water can cause scorching.

    Super-speedy weeds are everywhere, still growing extra – at every opportunity on hot days.  Grab a hoe and hoe them off, leaving them on the soil surface to be baked dry in the sunshine. I'd not say I am lazy, but I do like to do thing quickly and efficiently.  My Speedhoe fulfills all my hoeing needs and is easy to manoeuvre in between plants too.

    So I hope you like my August gardening tips and find them useful.  If there is anything that you would like to read about then please comment below.  We'd love to hear from you!

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