Monthly Archives: October 2019

  • New products for 2019/20 - its all about greener for Haxnicks this year!

    New Products 2019/20.  In preparation for the new season Haxnicks are launching some new products to make life in the garden that little bit greener in more ways than one.

    The first of these builds on our use of natural materials by adding to our bamboo range.

    Bamboo pots

    new_products_bamboo_potsThe range of biodegradable bamboo pots was incredibly well received last year so we have added 3 new pot sizes - 3" pot, 4" Pot and 8" Pot to help make your greenhouse plastic free,  We have also added two new saucer sizes 3" Saucer (for use with both the 3" and 4" pot) and 8" Saucer.

    Like the 5" and 6" pots and saucers and seed tray launched last year, the new sizes come in sage green or terracotta colour and still have the same 5+ years life and are compostable after use.

    Bamboo Plant Markers & Scoop

    Continuing the theme we have added a Bamboo Scoop and Bamboo Plant Markers to the range.  They are every day gardening necessities but with the increasing demand for non plastics they will add a new choice for gardeners.   The scoop is a good generous size and the plant markers are easy to write on so they will both work hard for you in the garden.

    Microgreens Mats

    new_rpoduct_2019_microgreens_closeup

    Continuing our use of natural materials we are introducing a Microgreens Growing mat.

    Made from natural coir, the mats are designed to fit neatly into the Haxnicks Bamboo Seed Tray.  This gives you a plastic free way of growing these highly nutritious micro-crops.  They can also be cut to size to fit other trays so are very versatile.

    Perfect for the urban gardener or anyone who would like to grow their own food. and isn't sure where to start.

    Green Fern Fleecenew_product_2019_green_fern_fleece_jackets

    The final product are a stylish addition to our Easy Fleece Jackets range.  The Green Fern Fleece Jackets are made of the same thick fleece as the current range but offer a natural leafy design that blends into your garden.  They come in Small (Pack of 4), Medium (Pack of 3) or Large (Pack of 2) so you can protect tender plants whatever their size.

    Simply slip them over your plant and pull the draw string to keep harsh weather at bay.  You can even double them up and add a second fleece if the forecast is really bad.

    Availability

    All of the New Products 2019/20 are on the website so that you can learn more about them.  You can also register here to be the first to know when they go on sale.

    Bamboo Pots, Plant Markers and Scoop.  These will be available to buy in garden centres and online in early to mid November.

    Microgreens mats and Green Fern Fleece.  These will be available to buy in garden centres and online in early to mid December.

  • Grow at Home: Horseradish

    Horseradish can be a bit of a giant in the garden with leaves reminiscent of Dock (Rumex).  Used really fresh as either a herb or a vegetable it adds a real kick to your harvest!

    Horseradish is easy to grow and the challenge may be preventing it from spreading too much .  It makes a perfect container plant and as long as you are aware that is is invasive, it is easy to handle.  The strong taste means that you need only small quantities so growing a single plant is ideal.

    It can be grown from seed but is easier to grow from pieces of root called thongs.  These can be bought all year round but planting is generally in Spring or Autumn.

    Soil and Aspect

    Horseradish thrives in any light rich soil, although it is not fussy and will prosper almost anyway where the soil has been prepared.

    Ideally you should grow it in it's own area rather than among other crops.  As with mint, it is possible to restrict the spread by planting in a planter.  Choose a deep planter to accommodate the roots.  The Haxnicks Potato Planter is ideal.

    Propagation

    For a container use ½ manure and ½ compost as horseradishes love manure.  Make some deep vertical holes with a dibber, then drop in a thong so that the top is 2in (5cm) beneath the surface of the compost and cover. Three thongs in a container is the maximum.  You only need a tiny amount though, so as I mentioned before you may only want one plant.  Place in a sunny or partially shaded spot or in the greenhouse if you are starting them off early. Growth will soon appear above the surface of the soil in Spring.

    Once you have established your plants you can divide them to get more.  Plant clumps or root sections out in the Autumn or Spring to increase your number of plants.  If you are planting more than one then allow 30cm between them.

    Harvesting and storage

    If you intend to lift plants completely that have been growing on lighter soils then you must make sure to remove all of the root to avoid regrowth and deep roots travelling across your plot.

    Horseradish is best harvested as it's needed during the growing season. If using the leaves then these are certainly best used fresh from the plant and harvested when young.

    For winter use, the roots can be lifted and stored in trays of moist sand for up to two months

    Culinary Uses

    Fresh Horseradish has a stronger flavour than shop bought versions so do be prepared and taste as you go along!

    The roots are the main harvest from the Horseradish.  They can be simply peeled and grated for use in salads or mixed with creme fraiche and vinegar to make a sauce for use with roast and cold meats.

    The leaves can be used in mixed salads in the same way that you might add herbs and also in dishes where you may like to add them to Chard or other leafy vegetables to add depth of flavour.

     

  • 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 this 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

    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: Rosemary

    rosemary_bushes_along_side_of_pathRosemary is a must-have herb native to Southern Europe. The bush form grows up to 1.2m tall - large enough to double as an evergreen shrub in the border. The low growing prostrate varieties are perfect for tumbling over a dry sunny wall or the edge of a terrace.  They make an excellent ground cover plant.

    As well as being a useful culinary herb, Rosemary is also a beautiful, drought resistant plant.  It  is great in landscaping in place of box or lavender. The attractive blue flowers that are a great source of nectar for bees.

     

     

    Soil and Aspect

    Rosemary thrives in a well-drained soil in a sunny position.  It is slightly tender and will suffer if it is planted in a wet soil during the colder winter months.  It is, however, an excellent plant for coastal areas.

    Rosemary is one of very few plants that thrives on neglect.  It will die if you fertilise or water it too much!  It also prefers a sparse soil without too much nutrient so is ideal for a stony dry corner where not much else will survive.

    Rosemary does well in containers with plenty of grit for good drainage and will benefit from protection In cold winters - Easy Fleece Jackets are ideal.

    Propagation

    rosemay_in_open_rootrainers_showing_roots

    Rosemary is best bought as an established plant or raised from cuttings.

    Cuttings couldn't be easier - on a cool morning snip off shoots of new growth without flowers  10-15cm long.  Remove most of the lower leaves so you have a clean length of stem.

    Use a sharp knife to cut off the base of the stem just below a leaf node – the point from which the leaves grow.  You can dip the ends in hormone rooting powder to speed up the rooting process.

    Fill Rootrainers with a gritty compost mix and insert one rosemary cutting into each cell.

    Water in cuttings from above to settle compost around their stems.  Then place in a cold frame or a sheltered area, using the Rootrainer lid to retain moisture.

    Once they have a good root system - which you will be able to see by gently opening your Rootrainers to inspect -  pot up individually into a loam-based compost. Plant cuttings out in their final position in Spring or Summer to get established before the temperature drops.

    One plant is usually ample for culinary use but if you do want to grow more then allow 75cm between plants.

    Growing from seed is not recommended as the germination is slow and often erratic.  If you wish to try it though, sow the seeds in good quality seed sowing compost about 1 cm deep. Keep them warm on a sunny windowsill or propagator.. Once you have some seedlings make sure you don’t overwater them.  Rosemary is drought tolerant and even at the seedling stage it is easy to overwater them.

    Harvesting and Storage

    Harvest the young, tender stems and leaves, taking off no more than one third of the plant at once.  For drying, harvest just before flowering and store the dried leaves in an airtight jar for use in the kitchen.

    Culinary Uses

    Use rosemary leaves for making tea, in sauces or for flavouring many dishes.  It is great over oven roasted potatoes and perfect with meats - especially lamb.

    Use it fresh or dried.  It has a powerful yet aromatic flavour and is excellent in herb breads or infused in oil.

     

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