Monthly Archives: May 2018

  • Slugs & snails and pints of ale!

    As a gardener, I’m guessing that missing National Snail Day last week on the 24th May is not the biggest problem you have with snails.  Same here! My house was empty for 2 years before I moved in.  This meant the garden was like an ‘all you can eat’ buffet for our unchecked slimy friends.  Seems like the slugs in particular have thrived to Jurassic Park like proportions.

    I have started to remove them to the other side of the garden where they can munch as much ground elder as they like. (Why is it they don’t touch that??)  As much as this seems a good idea I have learnt that common garden snails have a top speed of 45 metres an hour. This might make the snail one of the slowest creatures on Earth but still means they can be back on my lettuce before nightfall. Sigh.

    If I had time, space and a good flashlight then I would happily remove them physically.  However, I have neighbours on all sides who would not appreciate my gastropod cast offs.  Therefore, a trap of some sort is needed.  I also have 2 children, a cat and regard for the planet so slug pellets are not an option.

    The Slug-Buster (also bad news for snails!)

    I am far too much of a wuss to be sprinkling salt on them so enter The Haxnicks Slug-Buster.

    Haxnicks Plant Protection Kits

     

    Whilst salt seems cruel, drowning in a pool of something you find delicious seems a better way to go.  Despite the name The Slug-Buster is equally good at getting rid of snails.  It was super easy to set up.  I just dug a hole to partially bury it, opened a beer, poured it in and popped the lid on.  Then I waited for the slugs and snails to come (not a long wait in my over-populated garden!)

    Haxnicks Slug Buster with  our Oxford Patio Planters Slug-Buster keeping guard over my mixed leaves

    It might be too late for my bean plants but the Slug-Buster has so far proved phenomenal in keeping my rocket and my young juicy lettuce safe. Now I can make the Veg Society's Pasta with Rocket and Chilli recipe that I have had my eye on. It's all about the eating!

    To get yours click here Slug-Buster

  • Potato growing for beginners - growing stars for the plate.

    When I went to Ecuador they had over 200 varieties of potato in use and all of the ones I tasted were subtly different from each other. Not a big deal?  Maybe, but actually could you tell a supermarket King Edward from a Maris Piper by taste alone?  I certainly couldn't so finding actual distinct taste in potatoes was a revelation.  They went from 'side' to 'star' on my plate.  Most of all they tasted delicious.

    So my mission now is to grow my own in the hope of getting some of that flavour onto my plate.  I started late - toward the end of April - when it was unseasonably cold still.  I bought everything I needed

    • first early seed potatoes
    • veggie compost (could have gone multipurpose but on a mission to get it right)
    • Haxnicks Deep Oxford Fabric Planters (could have used compost sacks but who wants to look at those in their garden all summer?)

    To chit or not to chit...

    Then I ran into my first challenge: to chit or not to chit.  The Jury is out.  Monty Don, who was starting a trial in the Vigoroot Potato Planter  at the same time as me said "No!" whilst lots of others said "you MUST".  So I decided I would (sorry Monty) but with a time limit.  They had until the end of April then it was time to plant.

    On my north facing windowsill they grew into nice little characters - seemed a shame to plant them.

    How many potatoes to plant?

    Reluctant to leave any of them that had made the effort to chit, I planted 3 per pot.  Again, against Monty Don's Gardeners World advice as he only suggested 2.  But as I am mainly looking for small salad potatoes I figured that 3 would be OK.  A little water then a nice sunny position next to the tulips and I was done.

    Oxford Fabric Haxnicks Patio Planters Oxford Fabric planters

    I didn't have to wait long before I saw the first luscious green leaves coming through.

    Haxnicks Garden Products can be brought online Potato plants begin to appear

    Just a few weeks later and the are starting to fill the planter.

    Potato plants in Haxnicks Oxford Fabric planters The plants start to grow

     

    The next stage was to earth them up.  Not sure if this is a must but it seems that everyone does it so I covered the carefully grown leaves with soil.  it seemed wrong when they had spent the time pushing their way out but I am assured that this will give a great crop.  Now I am waiting again.

    Waiting, watering and wondering what I might make with them.

    Chip them, stew them, fry them, deep fry them even triple cook them.  Or just boil and serve warm with melted butter dripping off them.  I still have time to choose a recipe from  our friends at The Tasty Potato to make the most of what I hope will be a bumper crop!

    Potato potato plants in Haxnicks Oxford fabric planters Potatoes by evening light
  • Speed Hoe comes top of the class

    The highly respected publication Garden News has conducted a trial of slicing hoes.  According to Geoff Hodge, writer, broadcaster and product guru, The Haxnicks SpeedHoe has come out top of the class.

    The Hoes

    The hoes were tested for quality, comfort, performance and value for money.  The SpeedHoe got 5 stars on all counts.  It was especially noted for how sharp the edges were all round it, greatly increasing the ease of use.  As a result it beat off stiff competition from bigger brands with big price tags to be crowned the best slicing hoe in the trial.  As much as other hoes had their benefits they all scored less in at least one area.  One proud owner commented that it was "the best hoe on earth" and we aren't going to disagree with her.

    Read the full article below to understand more,  Furthermore if you want to make sure you are receiving the best possible gardening advice every week then you can subscribe here Garden News magazine.

    Garden News Magazine review of hoes trial in which the Haxnicks SpeedHoe came top The full article

     

  • Broad bean experiment: did it work?

    How to Grow early Broad Beans with Vigoroot Pots, Growlite Coir and Water Saucers

    I have an update for those of you following my early broad bean experiment (Original blog post).  Firstly to recap, this is a new and rather different method of growing broad beans in Haxnicks Vigoroot Pots, Growlite and Water Saucers.

    Broad beans in Haxnicks Vigoroot Pots Beans have started to grow

    You will recall I sowed the beans in December.  Possibly much too early for broad beans but I like to experiment.  Then I kept them permanently indoors on large, bright windowsills. They must have liked the conditions as they soon began to grow.

    The Haxnicks Water Saucers meant watering was a fortnightly task so very low maintenance.  I just checked the water reservoir and topped up as needed.  The integrated wicks did their job taking the water and food directly to the plant on demand.

    Pollination

    The next challenge was the lack of pollinators in the house, and generally around this early in the year.  So I stepped in with my soft paint brush and gently dusted the flowers to transfer the pollen.  Then it was a waiting game to see if the pollination had worked.

    Paint brush being used to pollinate broad beans Delicate touch to pollinate the flowers

    Pretty soon the flowers fell away and the swelling of the bean pods could be seen.  As often happens with these experiments we didn't quite get it right.  We didn't pollinate quite as many flowers as we should have done meaning that the crop is a little smaller than expected. Still enough to make a great meal, with more to follow, and we now know that we just need to do a bit more brush work next time.

     

    Young broad beans pods growing on a plant The broad beans starting to grow
    Young broad beans pods on a broad bean plant More broad beans growing

     

     

     

     

     

     

    Broad bean pods on bean plants Broad bean pods almost ready for picking

    In conclusion the experiment was a success and it is possible to have home grown broad beans on your table by May 1st.

    The only thing left now is to make the huge decision between simply drenching them in luscious melted butter or trying something  new like Olive Magazine's Broad Bean and Mint Panzanella with burrata  

    Decisions, decisions!

     

  • Salad anyone?

    We have returned back to a very grey and rainy England with not much hope for our little shoots after slight neglect for a week. However, we were greeted with huge shoots bursting to get out of their Rootrainers!  Seems like time to get the husband out building the Haxnicks Raised Bed with it’s very handy Raised Bed Polythene Cover to keep those courgettes, cucumbers and tomatoes growing upwards and outwards into something edible for my plate.

    Haxnicks Raised Bed with polythene cover on and plants inside I have plants now in my Raised Bed

    Most of all, the joy of this Raised Bed is that you construct and locate it wherever you wish, so for convenience it is sitting right outside our kitchen garden door.  As much as I love my garden who wants to traipse to the end of it to pick their veggies!  We have added a variety of herbs too - why not!

     Haxnicks Raised Bed with polythene cover off and salad plants showing  

    Pull back the polythene cover for easiy watering and as you can see we have a little bed of very healthy young plants which we hope to harvest sometime in July.  We will be back in July with an update!

    Haxnicks Raised Bed with polythene cover off and slightly larger salad plants inside Really growing now - here comes summer!
  • The Potty gardener Growing Beans in Pots

    Haxnicks Garden Products can be brought onlineSince discovering the secret to growing beans in pots I have been impatient to put it to the test. Veg growers might not normally consider growing runner beans in pots, but these are not normal pots and, as you may have noticed, I am not a normal veg grower. I am some way off reaching the giant at the top, but the beans are certainly racing up and I can’t help but mutter fee-fi-fo-fum whilst tending to these lean, mean, fast-growing beans.

    Haxnicks Rootrainers used in Growing Beans early

     

    Growing Beans

    I chose an early variety of Runner bean; Scarlet Emperor which claims on the pack to be ''very popular'' and give ''excellent garden performance''. ...hmmm, I hope that this garden celebrity won't upstage me!I Eager to get an early crop, the beans were sown in Rootrainers 2.5cm, and placed on a warm windowsill to germinate. Once both leaves had unfurled,

    Moving them on...

    I moved them into the Sunbubble. Here in the cosy, moist environment they took only a few weeks to reach potting-on stage.

    Haxnicks Sunbubbles used for Growing Beans

    And this is where the secret of potted bean success comes... in the form of these felty green pots. Vigoroot Pots are porous, allowing the roots to be 'air pruned' as they reach the edges of the pot, and causing a much stronger root system to develop. The plants don't become pot bound and have such super roots they grow well with less space.  This may be the latest conspiracy theory, but I have a sneaking suspicion that when Jack swapped his cow for magic beans and went on to grow a huge beanstalk that his beans weren't magic at all...I think that actually he had discovered growing in Vigoroot!

    Moving on...and up...Once the bean plugs had grown out of their Rootrainers I potted them up in 10Litre Vigoroot pots and gave them a stick each to guide their ascent up the strings that I had tied in at the top of the Sunbubble. They are growing fast and furiously, needing plenty of watering and I am looking forward to the early beans and hopefully a goose who lays golden eggs at the top!

     

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