Sarah & Guests

  • Don't let your plants go outside without a jacket or a blanket to keep them warm!

    Fleece_jacket_to_protect_from_frost Easy Fleece Jacket (small). by Haxnicks

    Frost damage is hard if not impossible to recover from.  Plants cost a lot of money.  Plus if you've grown them from seeds or cuttings, then an awful lot of research, time and anxious moments too!  So you don't want early frost to catch you out.  This could at best set their growth back and at worst kill them off.

    The RHS offer several ways to avoid frost damage.  Some for the start of the winter and some for the end:-

          Garden design - where to plant

    • Choose plants that are reliably hardy and suited to your growing conditions.
    • Cold air flows downwards on sloping ground, collecting at the lowest point creating what is known as a 'frost pocket' - avoid planting tender plants in areas such as this.
    • Grow slightly tender plants in a warm sunny spot like a south-facing wall, to provide extra warmth and winter protection

      Protection from Early Frosts

    • Cover plants with a double layer of horticultural fleece when frost is forecast
    • Mulch the root area of evergreens, conifers, tender shrubs and tender perennials with a thick layer of organic matter to prevent the ground becoming frozen
    • Move container grown plants to a sheltered part of the garden in cold weather and provide some extra protection by wrapping the pot in an  Easy Fleece Jacket
    • Leave the previous seasons’ growth on more tender plants until spring,  to provide valuable frost protection
    • Lift Tender plants or move them to a more sheltered position or greenhouse.  Ensuring that adequate heating and insulation is in place to prevent damage.
    • Protect fruit and strawberries from frost by covering  with an Extra Thick Fleece Blanket
    • Avoid applying nitrogen-rich fertilisers late in the season as they stimulate soft growth which is especially vulnerable to frost damage

      Protection from Late Frosts

    • Plant tender bedding plants out after the danger of frost has passed; this is generally late May in the south of England and June elsewhere. Always harden plants before planting outside

    So choosing the right plant in the first place is clearly a good idea.  As is, moving them to the greenhouse if you have one, or a more sheltered spot.  A good solution but not always possible with larger heavier plants.  As the RHS recommend a great alternative as autumn approaches and early frosts threaten is to use a fleece.  The Haxnicks Easy Fleece Jacket.  is a simple way to protect exotic plants, hanging baskets and other semi-hardy plants in pots patio containers.

    You may have used horticultural fleece, bought off a giant roll at the Garden Centre?  But this is unruly and requires securing.  The fleece jacket is quicker and easier.  Slip it over your plant and the job is done. Secure with the integral, rot-proof drawstring and locking toggle = instant protection against frost, harsh weather and pests.

    Fleece_cloche_over_bedIf your plants are in the ground rather than containers then it may be a Easy Fleece Lantern Cloche or even a Fleece blanket you need to instantly cosset your crops.

     

     

     

     

    Or if your crops closed_fleece_tunnel_with_carrotsare in rows then, you might choose the Easy Fleece Tunnel instead.  It has all the advantages of both Net and Poly Tunnels because it creates warmth and insulation whilst allowing water and sunlight to filter through to the plant.

     

     

    All of these have the advantage that not only will they protect crops this end of the season but, laid over the soil in Spring they can bring it up to temperature before all your friends.  This allows you to sow or plant out weeks ahead of others.  As a result it will extend the growing season and hopefully reward you for your care with an increased yield.

    Haxnicks Easy Fleece Jackets are available in three sizes, priced at £7.99 per pack

  • How to Protect Carrots from Carrot Fly

    You might think it is too early to think about carrot fly.  However, there is a lot you can do at the planting stage to ensure you get a healthy crop.  So well worth reading this now before you sow.

    If you have yet to experience that awful sinking feeling of lifting carrot after carrot riddled with dark crevices, tunnelled out by the dreaded carrot fly larvae, then consider yourself lucky. But for those of you that have, fear not! Haxnicks have been fighting various garden pests for over 20 years, and have picked up a few tricks along the way...

    How to protect your Carrots from Carrot Fly with Haxnicks
    Image courtesy of www.morguefile.com

    But first... some facts about carrot fly:

    • Carrot fly also affects other vegetables in the parsley family, such as Parsnip, Celery, Dill, Coriander, Fennel and Celeriac
    • They are attracted to the smell of bruised foliage
    • The larvae that damage the roots can continue to feed through the autumn into winter, moving between plants
    • The adult carrot fly is approximately 9mm long.  It is a slender, metallic, greenish-black fly with yellow legs and head. Larvae are creamy white, tapering maggots

    How can you tell if your carrots are infected? - Check for reddening of the foliage and stunted growth

    So now we know a little bit about the pest itself, we can look at some of the ways which we can protect our crops from infestations:

    1.  Make sure to avoid using previously infested ground. Carrot fly larvae are capable of surviving through the winter.  So avoid re-sowing any vegetable from the Parsley family (see above)
    2. Avoid sowing during the main egg-laying periods, which are (for most parts of the UK): mid-April to the end of May & Mid-July to the end of August.
    3. Sow disease and pest resistant varieties such as Fly Away F1 and Resistafly F1, available from garden centres and online seed suppliers.
    4. Erect a fine-mesh barrier at the time of sowing – at least 70cm high. Check out our Micromesh Pest & Wind Barrier which will work for containers and open ground.  Or a Micromesh Tunnel - with 0.6mm netting it will keep the Carrot Fly from getting to your precious crop.
    5. Sow thinly so as to avoid ‘thinning out’, releasing the smell of bruised foliage
    6. Thin out or harvest on a dry evening with no wind – or use scissors so that no bruising of foliage occurs
    7. Try companion planting - growing varieties of pungent Rosemary, Sage or Marigold as a deterrent/’smokescreen’
    8. Grow your carrots in a tall planters - for example the Haxnicks Oxford fabric planter or Carrot Patio Planters
    9. Lift main carrot crops by Winter, especially if any are infected – don’t leave them in the ground to serve as food for overwintering larvae.

    Thinning out tip: Use scissors to avoid bruising the foliage (and releasing the carrot-fly attracting scent)

    To find out more about carrot fly, and the other pests that may arrive in your garden check out Pippa Greenwood's excellent RHS book for plant by plant advice on Pests and Diseases

    Have you any experience of carrot fly damage? What do you think went wrong? Please let us know your thoughts using the comments section below.

  • Make it a very Merry Christmas for the gardener in your life...

    Here comes Christmas, the offices are festooned with decorations and everyone is starting to get excited!

    For the serious gardener, pretty much any Haxnicks product makes a cracking present.  For those of you who are still struggling to complete that oh so challenging gift list, I thought I'd highlight the best that we have to offer when it comes to getting the perfect present.

    You'll find everything on our website, just use the links or tap in the name in the search box.

    Bell_Cloches_in_3_sizesHaxnicks Bell Cloches King Size, Original or Baby  are a popular gift item, being aesthetically pleasing AND very practical.  Whether sitting over a prized plant in the garden deterring pests, cats, children and any number of other hazards or keeping out the frost and howling wind these bells will always make an original and successful present.

     

     

    Haxnicks_veg_sacks_with _cane_toppers_christmas_present

    How many times do you receive gifts that you will never use?  Gifts that are pretty quickly shoved to the back of a cupboard or given swiftly to charity?  We are all being asked to buy less so why not buy something you know will be used and enjoyed?

    Here's an idea: With a trend towards natural wrapping rather than 'glittery' wrapping paper that can't be recycled, the Haxnicks Vegetable Sacks double as wrapping and a gift.  Stuff full of gardening related stocking fillers. Add a reusable bow and you'll have a hit on your hands and somewhere to store your spuds come autumn.

    A little knowledge?

    Down_to_earth_gardening_book_madeliene_cardozoA gardening book will keep giving year after year. 
    Down to Earth 
     is a practical veg growing guide that covers the most common household favourite as well as some less often grown choices.  Beautifully photographed it is as at home on the coffee table as in the potting shed.  It makes an ideal present for the novice or the experienced gardener wishing to expand their range.

    New & different?

    wrapped_veg_with_bamboo_pots_and_christmas_treeIts always nice to be the first to have something so make them the envy of their gardening chums with Haxnicks Bamboo Pots, Saucers and Seed trays.  These are new and different and make a great gift.

     

     

    Hampers

    Pea_growing_hamperHow about a Christmas present and New Year's resolution all rolled into one?  Does your other half yearn to eat their own potatoes at Christmas Dinner 2019?  Is a planter full of fresh peas or beans on their 'to do' list?  Making up a hamper couldn't be easier - Rootrainers, planters, cane toppers, soft tie, veg sacks  Some things they will already have but add the things they don't and they will be ready to go once the weather warms up.

    Finally a great reason for choosing a gardening gift is that you can get it at a Garden Centre.  There is nowhere more Christmassy than a good Garden Centre.  So you will get your fill of Christmas spirit with loads of parking and its open right up until Christmas

     

    Haxnicks_Stocking_fillers

     

    Happy Christmas from all at Haxnicks, and we look forward to seeing your growing projects in the New Year.

  • Bamboo, sustainability and the environment

    Bamboo_pots_on_windowcillHaxnicks and the Environment

    We are using bamboo pots and seed trays as a sustainable alternative to plastic.
    At Haxnicks we care about the environment and the environmental impact of our products. We are keen to do all we can to protect the environment at the same time as bringing new, practical and genuinely useful products to gardeners.

    For many years Haxnicks has specialised in developing plant protection products that help to avoid the use of chemical pesticides.  Pesticides can be harmful to the environment and we hope that this has had some positive effect. We use plastics in many of our products.  However, we avoid the production of ‘single-use’ products.  We are also continually exploring new technologies to find natural and sustainable alternatives.

    Our range of Bamboo Pots and Seed Trays are an environmentally friendly alternative to traditional petroleum-based plastic pots.  Whilst there are many advantages of using bamboo pots as an alternative, we also need to be aware of any environmental concerns arising from the production of these items as well as the inevitable carbon footprint of production processes and transportation.

    These bamboo pots are part of a journey toward a more sustainable way to garden and whilst they are not perfect they are better than what came before.

    The Current Industry

    It is estimated that 500 million plastic plant pots are sold every year.  The majority of these end up in landfill or incinerated.  Very little is recycled and there are few facilities to do so.  production of these petrochemical plastic pots involves a large amount of fossil fuel .  Added to this they take around 500 years to decompose. Meaning that every pot that was ever sent to landfill is currently still there.

    Sustainability of Bamboo

    Much of the bamboo we make our products from is offcuts of the furniture industry so is using up a waste product.

    Bamboo is the largest member of the grass family. It is the fastest growing woody plant in the world growing up to 35 metres tall. New shoots can reach their full height in just eight to ten weeks.  Then reach full maturity in three to five years. The high growth rate of bamboo and the fact that it can grow in diverse climates makes the bamboo plant a sustainable and versatile resource. However, we want to know that our part in the worldwide demand for bamboo does not impact on other native species. We have visited the forests and in the areas where our bamboo grows and have seen no signs of this as yet.

    Harvesting most crops such as timber leaves the soil bare after harvesting. Being a grass, after each cut bamboo regenerates just like a lawn without the need for replanting.  Regular harvesting benefits the health of the plant. Studies have shown that felling canes leads to vigorous re-growth and an increase in the amount of biomass the next year.

    Bamboo grows very densely.  Its clumping nature means a lot grows in a comparatively small area, easing pressure on land use. Average yields for bamboo are around 60 tonnes per hectare whilst for most trees average yields are around 20 tonnes.

    The extensive root system of bamboo and the fact that it is not uprooted during harvesting means bamboo helps preserve soil and prevent soil erosion. The bamboo plant's root system creates an effective watershed, stitching the soil together along fragile river banks, deforested areas and in places prone to mudslides.

    Bamboo minimises CO2 and generates up to 35% more oxygen than equivalent stands of trees. One hectare of bamboo sequesters 62 tonnes of carbon dioxide per year.  While one hectare of young forest only sequesters 15 tonnes of carbon dioxide per year.

    Bamboo and water

    Very little bamboo is irrigated.  Bamboo uses water very efficiently which means it is able to handle harsh weather conditions such as the droughts, floods and high temperatures.  These conditions may well become more prevalent as a result of global warming.

    Bamboo grows prolifically without the need for chemical fertilisers and irrigation. It is likely that some bamboo farmers use fertilisers to increase growth.  This practice is much less common with bamboo than with most other crops, and we have not seen this in the areas where we work.

    Our bamboo products come from China, where the bamboo grows.  The finished products move by sea to various countries worldwide. Compared to other transport methods like air, sea has a relatively low carbon impact.  It is not perfect but it is a step in the right direction away from petrochemical plastic pots.  We continue to look at the materials we use and will source locally where practical.

    Child labour

    PRC (China) labour law prohibits the employment of children under the age of 16 yrs. However, evidence points to child labour still in certain industries. The US International Labor Affairs Bureau (ILAB) has investigated Child Labour for 25 years and publish a list of known ongoing occurrences worldwide. In China there are lists containing various industries such as cotton, textiles, Fireworks but not bamboo. Burma is the only country where the ILAB list includes bamboo. We have visited various bamboo plantations in the region where we work.  We have not seen any use of child labour or poor working conditions.

  • Exploring the rhizosphere: how to grow trouble free onion sets...

    Rootrainers are what I've chosen for years to grow overwintering onion sets, garlic and spring planted onion sets. Onion sets (small immature onions) allow me to have onions all year round. But, originally manufactured to grow tree seedlings, why would I use Rootrainers for onion sets?

    Growing Onions using Haxnicks Rootrainers
    Growing onions from seeds can be a hit and miss affair, with weather, birds and the like all affecting the young seedlings’ growth outdoors, particularly those seedlings that have to overwinter. I am not after prize winning onions anyway or even huge onions so don't need to use onion seeds. I prefer sets. However, whenever I planted sets direct into the soil outdoors, within a few days, I would find many of the sets had been pulled up from where I had planted them and scattered all over the soil. Who or what was responsible?

    Some detective work - root zones and rhizospheres...

    The root zone is the name for the region of the soil around plant roots as they grow.  The roots produce secretions that help and protect them as they force their way downwards through the soil. The immediate area around the root is called the rhizosphere. There will be many rhizospheres within the root zone of a plant.

    The rhizosphere is the most dynamic environment in the soil, or a microbe ‘hot spot’, the fast food areas of the soil! The roots are also continually shedding old tissue and sloughed-off plant cells. The root secretions and dead plant cells are a feast for microbes living in the soil. In return the soil microbes provide nutrients for the plants, which encourage plant growth. More plant growth means more roots. A win-win situation! Hence soil microbes themselves congregate around the roots. Microbes in turn are a beacon for earthworms, who sense the root secretions and microbes in the soil and target such ‘hot spots’ to feast upon them!

    The Culprit!

    In my garden its the blackbird.  Blackbirds deliberately pull up the onion sets to seek out earthworms and other such tasty morsels, living and feeding in the root zone underneath the onion set.

    By planting onion sets in Rootrainers, the roots will grow in and around the compost, binding it together.  Then when planting them outdoors, unless the blackbird has fed on at least 3 Weetabix (!) that morning, it will not have the energy or strength to pull out the onion set with its well rooted fibrous compost ball, which is a lot heavier than an onion set on its own. Result:  no more scattered onion sets!

    Due to their size onion sets are great for children and school projects too.  Handling them is easy.  Planting requires less skill as sets are easier to handle than seeds.  Together, sets and rootrainers make the exercise easy and interesting for children to do for themselves. One major advantage for schools is that the children can grow AND harvest them all within the school year.

     

  • The Potty Gardener and Manure in the Garden

    Haxnicks Garden Products can be brought online

    I have been busy helping Grandpa Haxnicks to dig manure into his vegetable plot and learning some of the ins and outs of using various types of animal excrement in the garden. What comes out of the animal and goes into the soil is so much more than a pile of poo. All creatures great and small can provide free plop for your plot that will vastly improve soil texture, boost nutrient levels and give you bigger, better and healthier crops.

    Poultry Manure for the Garden

    Chicken droppings

    If you happen to keep chickens, then as well as eggs you have a readily available source of useful fertiliser. Fresh chicken poo has high levels of ammonia so should be dug into vegetable plots at least 4 months before planting. Or you can add it to a compost heap and let it rot down before using it. It makes particularly good top dressing for blackcurrants and plum trees.  It tends to be quite alkaline so not so suitable for acid loving plants such as blueberries, or camellias.

    Horse Manure and its nourishing factors

    Cow Poo

    Cow poo is great for improving soil structure. Again, it should be left to rot down in a compost heap or dug in a few months before planting. Autumn is the perfect time for digging it in, particularly if you want to use it in areas where you might be planning to grow root vegetables in the spring. If you try to grow root vegetables in freshly manured soil the results can be a little alarming. Carrots will grow into multi-limbed aliens, beetroot will go barmy and potatoes go scabby. A great plus point for cow poo is that it has been well digested, passing through multiple stomachs a process that kills off any weed seeds.

    Horse manure

    Weed seeds are something to watch out for with horse manure. So be sure that it is well aged to give time for any seeds to compost. Another benefit of horse poo is that it is considerably less stinky than chicken or cow. But if you want a completely non-stinky manure then worm poo is your best bet. Obviously, it is going to take a biblical proportion of worms to create the equivalent of a few cow pats.  However, I am told that you can make worm poo tea out of worm casts from a wormery.  You can then feed it to your potted plants!

  • How to photograph your garden

    Be it allotment or garden.  Do you ever gaze at the beautiful oasis you have created and wish that you could capture just how fabulous it is?  To let others feel the beauty of the sun shining through the leaves?  Or the dew clinging to a newly opened rose?  Only to find that despite best efforts the image you get lacks the magic that your eye could see.   Well I decided to put this right by attending a garden photography course and wanted to share the secrets with you.

    Know Your cameragrasses_in_garden

    This wasn't learnt on this course but its important, so my first tip to you is learn as much as you can about your camera.  For example on the course I did in the summer I learnt that my camera has a built in spirit level.  Not sure how I didn't know this - I should have, its there in the viewfinder.  But I didn't.  This one nugget has lead to much more of my images actually being level and will save hours in editing time!

    I had an equally Eureka moment at a course run my Olympus (I have an Olympus Mirrorless Compact) where they told me that you could switch which functions were controlled by which dials.  This let me put the controls back where they had been on my beloved Nikon DSLR and meant that my instinctive actions were back where they should be so I could think of other things.

    Help can come from a variety of places. The manufacturer will often run workshops and clinics to help you get more out of your equipment,  Failing that YouTube is full of helpful videos and if you search your camera model then you will likely find a photography forum where people will be able to help.

    So on to what I actually learnt from the course.

    Shoot into the Light

    Japanese_anenome_backlit Backlit is best

    This is radical and takes a bit of getting used to.  The first thing we are taught when we pick up a camera as a child is to get the sun behind you to take the picture.  Try and unlearn this when it comes to your garden because what plant doesn't look better with the sun streaming through it?  You have to avoid pointing your lens directly at the sun by blocking it with trees or foliage but all in all shooting into the light will enliven your plants and let you capture that sparkle that makes your garden pop.

    In the example below I took an ordinary leaf and shot it with the light behind me to get the first image.  This is a very ordinary looking leaf.  The second image is toward the light but it is too strong and it ruins the image.  Changing my position slightly to shield my lens form the glare with the trees makes the leaf shine, showing the red tips along the leaf and giving some nice Bokeh in the background.  An ordinary slightly ragged leaf still but a much stronger image than the first one.

    Leaf_shot_into_the_light Shooting into the light brings out colour and texture

    Layers and Background

    It is important to look at the whole picture and not just the beautiful specimen that you want to photograph. So if you take my stunningly charismatic Swiss Chard I didn't really want the road barriers and the car my husband is respraying in the middle of the lawn (WHY?) to feature in the photo.  A slight change of angle sorted it.  As you can see I am still learning to look at the whole picture!

    Autumn_shades_in_plants Capture the colour

    See your garden as a palette of different layers - so what plants are behind your prize specimen?  Can you move round it to get a better angle and take the shot with something it will stand out against as the background?  If all else fails can you lie down and take the shot against the sky or tower above it and use the lawn as a background? This way of thinking may even influence your planting in future years.

    Don't be afraid to move.  Crouch down low and shoot upwards, shoot from directly above your plant, shoot through other plants so they form a frame.  Try 5 shots from one location and then force yourself to move, try 5 more and move again and keep going until your lettuce feels like its walking the red carpet at the Oscars!

    Make Mistakes

    seed_heads_waer_plants Strong shapes like seed heads work well

    Now you have a mass of photos its time to review them.  Hopefully you will have made loads and loads of mistakes.  Mistakes are good news as you can learn much more from a bad photo than a good one.  So rather than scrolling through them and hitting delete, delete, delete...STOP. Compare one you like the look of to one you didn't.  Was the shutter speed to slow so it was blurry?  Was the aperture too small so that you had a big depth of field and could see the rubbish bin in the background?  If you don't know much about photography then there are lots of people out there who do so join a forum, show them your image and ask your questions.  You don't need to know the technical terms as you can pick these up as you go along.

     

    I hope these few tips will help you take better pictures.  Remember for every stunning image you see on Instagram there are probably 100 disasterous ones that were delete, delete, deleted!

    We'd love to see your new found skills - tag your images @Haxnicks and we can share them for you.

  • Time to harvest courgettes and see what has and hasn't made it this year...

    WEEK 15

    Firstly, I have to say we seem to have been very lucky with the English weather this spring/summer. The Haxnicks Raised Beds have worked spectacularly with the help of the rain and sun.

    Early in the season we took the polythene cover off as the air temperature was so high we feared the plants would get too hot. Within weeks there were courgette flowers and tiny courgettes... so tempting to pick them in over excitement.

    courgette-with-flower

    By week 8, fully grown courgettes were ready to be made into ratatouille using my trusty Rocknife

    Unfortunately the cucumbers seemed to have vanished - where they have gone is beyond me. I imagine that when we took the polythene cover off a little mouse came along and ate them.

    Elsewhere in the garden the tomatoes are coming along nicely, I'm just waiting to see their fruit.  We also have a bed full of the most humongous sage and thyme ready for picking.  And whatsmore the courgettes are still coming through thick and fast.

    This is honestly the first time I have grown a vegetable and I know that I will be doing this next year without a doubt. - Absolutely effortless!

  • How to garden in small spaces

    The top 5 tips for living in small spaces are quite easy to follow and with a few handy products we can apply this to the garden, the allotment or the balcony too.

    1.  Get Rid of Stuff

    Start by having a good declutter and creating a blank canvas.  The decaying plastic pots that sit mouldering in the corner enjoyed by no one but snails.  The old garden chair that the last plot owner forgot or the wood that you were going to make into... what were you going to make that wood into?
    A good afternoon of clearing and you will be able to see the trees for the wood.   You will reveal space to grow.

    2.  Double Up With Bunk Beds

    Haxnicks Raised Bed SystemsOn the surface this one doesn't translate easily from the house but there are many reasons why rising above the garden will work.  Firstly it is quick and you can get results in a weekend or less.  Secondly, if your soil is poor this can be solved in a flash.  You could dig it, add organic matter. You could even throw chemicals at it to get it to a healthy growing place.  Or you could get our screwdriver out, put in 16 screws and have a Raised Bed ready to fill with soil before the kettle has boiled for your well deserved cuppa.  A fully functioning strawberry patch / salad bed by nightfall.

     

     

    3.  Find yourself Small Furniture

    Getting a bench so you can enjoy your garden should be simple.  Second hand shops are a place for bargains or garden centres stock a wide range to suit all sizes.  But what about your growing space?  There are many corners of the garden or plot where the careless previous owners didn't think to add a bed.  Spaces wasted in terms of growing. Pots and planters are the way to solve this problem and use every inch.  Transform a corner of  the garden or balcony with a Pea & Bean Planter. This provides the space to grow up to 6 plants in just 2ft x 1ft.  Or stylish Oxford Planters could have you growing potatoes, courgettes, tomatoes or herbs & salads in a disused corner and can be folded up and packed away once the season is over.

    If you want to really use your space well and make life easy for yourself then the Vigoroot Easy Table Garden is a raised bed, a mini greenhouse and an irrigation system all in one!  The Vigoroot™ fabric ‘air-prunes’ the roots of plants, dramatically changing their formation and increasing their ability to sustain the plant in a limited volume of compost.  In real terms this means it punches above its weight in terms of yield compared to growing in the ground.

     

    Haxnicks Vigoroot Table Garden

    4.  Expand Your Space With a Large Mirror. ...

    Seems like the space is never big enough?  Accessorising it with a mirror will add the illusion of more space.  It works for gardens or balconies and will also reflect light into shady corners of the area.  Small round mirrors surrounded by foliage will give a window into another world effect  Trick your visitors into thinking there is a whole secret garden beyond.  Be careful what you reflect and try and position it so that it reflects foliage rather than your wheelie bins!

    Mirror in the Garden with butterflies Image courtesy of keen gardener Tracy Chapman

    5.  Maximize Vertical Space.

    Your plot space is your plot space and not much you can do to increase the footprint.  So if you can't go out then you have to go up.  Architectural and design prizes are all going to dramatic living walls.  These might be ambitious for the home gardener but wall space can still be growing space with products such as the Herb Wall planter.  So if you like your pesto fresh or a muddle of mint in your mojito then space should not be an excuse.

     

    Haxnicks Herb Wall Planters Up, up and away - herbs are go!

     

    If herbs aren't enough for you, you could also try the Self Watering Tower Garden.  Like the Easy Table Garden this is a raised bed, a mini greenhouse and an irrigation system all in one.  I have this at home (see my Blog for the full story) and have 4 bush tomatoes, 4 strawberries plus mint, coriander, chives and thyme in a little space under my scaffolding.  All I have to do is check the water level once a week and give the odd once over to check for any snails that have set up home under the pots (2 snails and 1 mini slug found and removed to date).  Other than that it seems to be looking after itself and the plants are thriving.  If you are both short of space and time poor then this one is for you!

     

    So small is beautiful and can be bountiful too and I hope this has inspired you to have a try.  Happy growing!

     

  • 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

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