Monthly Archives: July 2010

  • Love to grow August Competition 2010

    Just a quick note to say that July is almost over, and entries for the July competition will have to be in by the end of the 31st July. Don't worry if you're not ready, as there's still the August competition to go,

    Remember, we're looking for the best photos of Haxnicks products in use - quality of image, setting, background, and plants will all be taken into account. Also, you can enter as many photos as you want, so get snapping! E-mail entries to [email protected], along with your name, address and phone number, or if you prefer, send us a link to your online photo gallery (if you have one..)

    Haxnicks -  Love to grow

  • Potato progress - Winter crops

    Haxnicks Potato Patio Planters

    Hopefully, you are all enjoying your own home-grown potatoes by now, and doesn't the taste make it all worthwhile? But it ain't over til the fat lady sings (at christmas) - Once you've emptied your Potato Patio Planters, keep them in mind, as you can very easily have another batch of fresh home-grown spuds ready for the Christmas table!

    All you have to do is replant from mid-August to early September. Seed potatoes will be available from most garden centres and mail-order companies - Alternatively, you could just keep back a few spuds from your summer crop and use them as your seed potatoes! Add a little straw/old leaves to the bottom of your planter - as this rots it will help to provide some warmth, protecting your winter potatoes from the cold. Then plant as normal.

    Potato foliage cannot handle the frost, so ideally bring your planters inside as the cold comes on - a greenhouse, barn, or the kitchen will do, as long as there is some light. As normal, don't soak your potatoes, but ensure the soil remains moist. (Sorry to all those of you who dislike the word 'moist', but it does the job!)

    Haxnicks Fleece Jackets

    It will also help to cover your plants with fleece to warm them - there are various fleece jackets available, which pop over the plant very easily - why not choose a decorated one for a bit more colour against the drabness of winter?

    Hope you're enjoying your harvests, long may they last!

    Love to grow!

  • Pippa Greenwood - Q&A - Part II

    The second in our series of questions and answers from Pippa Greenwood.  Please remember we are open for more questions at the bottom - just leave a comment and we'll get our panel of experts to answer your questions.


    Q: How can I keep my greenhouse a bit cooler in the height of the summer?
    A: Make sure that greenhouses and conservatories have adequate shading – temperatures soon soar in this warmer weather and plants inside will dry out rapidly and may be severely scorched. Paint on shading is the cheapest and is readily available from the garden centre but a conservatory is better fitted with more attractive looking blinds in the long term. Keep vents and windows open as much as possible too so that cooler air can come in. Try to allow a through draught, and even consider fitting an extra window or vent. The old-fashioned remedy of ‘damping down’ works brilliantly too – simple water any hard-standing such as the path in the greenhouse, as the water evaporates it uses heat energy and so temperatures drop.

    Q: There is ivy growing up through my well-established hornbeam hedge, will it harm the hedge?
    A: Much as I love ivy (and am not one for removing it from trees), if the ivy is starting to get a hold in your hedge, I’d be inclined to try to remove it. It is a vigorous plant and although I’m sure it won’t kill the hedging plants, it can start to swamp them and may lead to a degree of gappyness in the foliage covering as the hedge comes in to full leaf. The easiest way is to try to dig out the ivy at the base, or failing this, to sever the stem from the base, and then pull off the dead ivy plants once they have turned brown.

    Q: My hostas are riddled with holes, any suggestions?
    A: Hostas and holes pretty well always means slugs, and possibly snails.

    If they are growing in pots try using a copper based paint or a self-adhesive copper tape applied around the rim of the pot – slugs and snails hate crossing copper. If they are in open ground I suggest you try setting traps eg beer traps, and also consider using a nematode biological, or an organic slug control as this way you can kill them off without endangering the wildlife.

    Q: Can I grow a rose in a pot?
    A: yes, you can, but looking after it will definitely be much more effort than if it were growing in open ground! If you cannot plant it in open ground then I suggest you use as large a pot as possible, ideally something like a half barrel, and use a loam-based compost with added grit, something like John Innes number 3 would be good, plus some horticultural grit.

    Q: How do I know what size containers to use for my patio veg. I have a tiny flat with a small balcony and need to be as space-saving as possible?
    A: Assuming the balcony is up to the job (and please do check first!!) the bigger the better, but generally speaking I find pot-shaped containers work better than growing bags as they allow you to put in a top quality compost, and are easier to keep moist. A minimum of about 30cm3 , but ideally bigger is what I would recommend. If space and weight are an issue, then try the crop bags made from a sort of plasticised hessian material as these are very light weight, available in a range of sizes, fold flat and tiny for off-season storage, and have brilliant drainage holes in them!

    Q: I’ve just noticed that my apple tree has several areas on it where the branches are all bobbly and swollen, but they seem to be coming in to leaf OK. What is this?
    A: It sounds as if they were hit by woolly aphid. This sap-sucking pest causes you stems to swell and distort as it feeds, but its a symptom that is often first noticed when the plants start to grow in the spring. Once this damage has appeared the infested stem may start to die back, especially when the damage is severe, or if apple canker disease gets in via the wounded bark. I suggest you prune out the worst affected areas.

    Q: Is it too late to sow peas in March?
    A: Its certainly worth sowing some peas in March and in many areas, the soil stays so very wet and so extremely cold well into March, so for much of the country sowing any earlier is not possible! If the soil is still a bit wet and cold where you are, I suggest you sow the seed in cells, root-trainer pots or small flower pots and then transplant the peas when the plants are three or four inches tall and things have warmed up a bit. Remember to get some twiggy sticks in to the soil when you sow the seed or plant the young peas out, these will act as supports as the peas grow.

    Q: Is it true that it is not a good idea to cut an established hedge in spring, and if so, why?
    A: Its certainly true, and in fact as the bird nesting season has officially started in spring, it is actually illegal to do anything which might disturb nesting birds! The hedge itself would not mind, but you could very easily cause tragedy as far as the wild birds are concerned.

    Q: Some of my seedlings have suddenly died, sort of flopped over, can I save them?
    A: The most likely cause is damping off disease. This is caused by fungi, often introduced via unclean compost, trays or pots, or from non-mains water. Sadly there is no way you’ll be able to resurrect the seedlings but do check on your gardening hygiene. Its also worth watering seedlings with a dilute copper fungicide as this can help to prevent the infection getting a hold in the first place.

    Q: The winter has left my lawn riddled with moss, what can I do?
    A: First try to alleviate any compacted areas using a fork driven in deeply at intervals over the lawn. Then if you wish you could use a proprietary moss killer and, once the moss has been killed off, and after the delay period suggested on the pack, rake out the dead moss.

    Don’t do this any earlier than suggested or you may end up spreading the moss! If areas are very thin, you could then roughen up the surface and re-seed with fresh grass seed. Good lawn care ie feeding, scarifying and adequate water are the real key to a moss-free green carpet!

    Once again Pippa has given us a bonus question:

    Q: I am fed up with all the caterpillars I get in my brassicas, especially the calabrese, please, please suggest a chemical free solution?
    A: I never spray mine either, but with out a physical barrier you can guarantee a good crop of caterpillars! I plant low-growing brassicas under fleece or fine net pull-out tunnels, and taller ones a brilliant metal frame which comes with a fine mesh ‘jacket’ and a zip-up doorway – this is great because it is just tall enough for me to get in and so amongst the crop, making it very easy to harvest just what I want. Mesh covers like this will also protect against other flying pests such as aphids, cabbage root fly, flea beetle and so make organic veg growing so much easier!

    We cannot thank Pippa enough for these valuable tips and answers, please add your own questions and we'll try to help.

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