Love to Grow

  • The Potty gardener growing peas in containers

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    Last month Grandpa Haxnicks  gave me 3 tips for growing peas in containers for an early as possible crop...

    Rootrainers

    Warmth

    Love

    So I got hold of some Rootrainers, wrapped up warm, and gave myself a hug. So far so good, my peas are doing well!

    Peas growing in Haxnicks Rootrainers

    I chose an early variety of pea suitable for container growing. Douce Provence claims to be sweet and compact, growing to approximately 60cm tall. Just my sort of pea. I sowed the first peas half a finger deep in Deep Rootrainers about 6 weeks ago and since then have made two other fortnightly sowings for a longer cropping season.  Thanks to the cosy environment of my Sunbubble, an unusual amount of sunshine and of course tender, loving care from me, the peas are now healthy looking plants.

    Healthy Pea Roots in Haxnicks Rootrainers

    It is not surprising that they are looking so good on top when you see what a super root system they have formed in the Rootrainers.  As you can see the Rootrainer cells open up like a book making them easy  to plant without disturbing the roots.

    Haxnicks Pea Bean Patio Planter

    This morning, I found last year's pea and bean patio planter in the darkest most spidery corner of my garden shed and filled it up with a good multi purpose compost ready to accommodate the first pea plugs . With 1m bamboo canes and some Soft-Tie I built a tepee for the Pea and Bean Patio Planter. There are some helpful little cane support pockets on the outside which keep the support canes in place. The peas are now happily bedded in and hopefully ready to climb towards fruition. It is such a sunny day that I'm leaving them out to get used to the big wide world and adjust to outside temperatures, but I will be sure to tuck them up again tonight (perhaps with a bedtime story, there is one about a fussy Princess that I think they will enjoy).

    Rootrainers, warmth and love...easy peasy!

  • 5 Ingredients for Home Made Seed Compost

    Carrot Seeds in Seed Compost from Haxnicks

    Hello Gardeners, I have some advice for saving money and making your own seed compost. Making any kind of compost does of course require advance preparation, and I am beginning from the assumption that you already have some mature compost. If you don’t then perhaps you might be inspired to get some going for next year. Haxnicks have already considered those of you who may not have space for a full scale composting area in your garden. Have a look at our Rollmix Composter page where you will find plenty of advice on the easiest way to create compost in a small space with our amazing rolling compost bin.

    Haxnicks Rollmix Composter for Seed Composting

    Here are the 5 Free ingredients for seed compost:

    One part mature Kitchen/garden compost

    One Part mature Leaf mould

    One Part Mole hill/topsoil

    Water

    Elbow grease

    Haxnicks Easy Riddle Compost

    It is far simpler and less time consuming to simply buy a bag of seed compost, BUT it will not come with wholesome ingredients of physical effort, self-satisfaction and thriftiness! Any good seed compost should be nutrient rich, moisture retentive, and have a fine uniform consistency that allows for good air circulation. The mix of above ingredients should give you all that. You will also need to sieve the mix to take out the lumps and achieve the fine airy consistency. For many years I have used a large heavy wooden riddle to sieve compost, but since being closely involved in the product design of Easy Riddle  I am well and truly converted to using this lightweight garden sieve. Far less elbow grease required!

    Strictly speaking home garden compost should be heated to kill off pathogens. There is a fine balance between killing off pathogens and destroying the nutrients in the heating process. Frankly, I have never bothered and can’t say that my seedlings have suffered as a result, besides I am certain that my homemade seed compost would not be welcomed in the kitchen! For more information about composting and our composting products please go to our composting page. In the meantime,

    Happy gardening!

    Grandpa Haxnicks

  • The Potty Gardener skips into her Sunbubble

    Haxnicks Garden Products can be brought onlineSome very exciting news…this weekend the Sun came out, and so did my brand new Sunbubble! Unfortunately it is now drizzling with rain again, but whatever endorphins were released whilst soaking up the sun in my Sunbubble are still coursing through my veins resulting in a Spring-like enthusiasm for the gardening year ahead. The Sunbubble was very quick to put up with just a little bit of help from Grandpa Haxnicks. I had a choice of two sightings for this fabulous pop up greenhouse. The first was at the bottom of our garden, a lovely sunny spot, sheltered from the worst of the prevailing wind. I skipped back and forth to this spot a few times trying out this potential journey from house to greenhouse.

    Haxnicks' Potty Gardener's Wellington Boots stuck in the Mud

    Unfortunately, as I soon discovered, well-trodden, sodden clay becomes quite hard to skip on without losing one or both of your wellies!   So, in order to be able to skip with spring-like enthusiasm to my Sunbubble, whilst at the same time maintaining my dignity, my lawn and my wellies it was clear that the bottom of the garden was not the spot for it.

    The Haxnicks Sunbubble

    The next best place to sight it was on the gravel next to the chicken run and conveniently close to the garden shed. So up it popped in this spot. There was the small inconvenience of drilling into the hard-core below the gravel to secure it in place, but luckily Grandpa Haxnicks is quite amenable when it comes to small inconveniences (such as me!). The Chickens had quite a lot to say about this alien invasion of their view but I am certain that they will be thrilled when they discover that I intend to fill it with all sorts of juicy greens. It's just as well that the Sunbubble has a zipped doorway to keep the greedy chooks out!

    The Haxnicks Rootrainers Racking StationI have since skipped back and forth many times to my exciting new growing space with both wellies firmly on foot and dignity intact. I have also skipped into my local garden centre for compost, seeds, Rootrainers and a Rootrainers Racking Station to keep things tidy and ensure that I will be making the most of the space in the Sunbubble. Then I skipped to the local recycling centre where I have been keeping my eyes peeled (Ouch ) for useful pots and planters. This time I struck lucky and picked up a pair of terracotta planters destined for the skip.....and guess what?... I skipped home with them!

  • The Potty Gardener and her Potted Christmas Tree

    Haxnicks Garden Products can be brought onlineI am extremely pleased with my potted tree! I can’t wait to bring it inside to be festooned with festive bits and baubles. This potted Christmas tree is on loan from Grandpa Haxnicks who is going away for Christmas, he says that he is travelling north and will not have time to decorate it. Perhaps the generous old man is more than he seems….he does have a white beard!

    Nordman Fur Christmas Tree in a Haxnicks Patio PlanterGrandpa Haxnicks bought this Norway Spruce some years ago as a young 1ft potted tree and immediately transferred it to a Vigoroot planter in a bed of loam based compost to give it the best chance of survival. At 5ft it’s looking pretty healthy today.

    Over the years I have had cheap drop-all-their-needles-in-5-minutes trees, expensive drop-all-their-needles-in-2-days trees, fake Christmas trees, and even flashing fibre optic trees, but they have all ended their days in the same place, at the local recycling centre. This potted tree however, has lasted several years. Hopefully, if I look after it, it will live to see another Christmas.

    Haxnicks' Vigoroot Helpful Hints

     

    Being in a Vigoroot planter means that the roots of the tree get air-pruned preventing it from becoming pot-bound, like me. The special porous fabric also encourages more vigorous rooting allowing the tree to absorb more nutrients and grow to a much larger size in a smaller place. So the Vigoroot planter is great for the Christmas tree, but also for me because it has handles and it’s lightweight, making it easily transportable. A Potted Christmas tree will always be happier outside, but when it does come in to be dressed in its Christmas best then, if possible, put it somewhere cool such as by a window or in a hallway. Keep it watered, but be warned, Vigoroot pots are porous!  The water might seep through the edges, so aim for the centre and don’t overdo it. It’s a good idea to place the pot on a tray or similar to catch any drips.

    Remember, look after your potted tree as you would yourself this Christmas… dress up in sparkly things, keep cool, drink regularly in a controlled manner, and get back out in the garden as soon as possible!

  • The Potty gardener sorting with Soft-Tie and spiders!

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    Thanks to the fearsome weather over the past few weeks any gardening time has been spent undercover in my garden shed, clearing, sorting and tidying. There were moments, with the full force of Storm Barney raging outside, when I feared a Wizard of Oz style take-off in the gale force winds. There were also moments when I feared a horror movie style savaging from the monster sized spiders crawling out from every dark corner of the shed. Thankfully, I have survived the storms and the spiders to tell the tale of the looking after Rootrainers, the marvels of Soft-tie and the cure for arachnophobia….

    Haxnicks Rootrainers stored in a Garden Shed

    I was busy stacking up a neat pile of the Rootrainers, that had so successfully nurtured my sweet peas earlier this year, when I heard some disapproving mutterings blowing in with the wind through the door….Grandpa Haxnicks had arrived to help. My neat stacks of Rootrainers, he told me, were all wrong. Apparently, stacking the propagation lids inside one another in direct sunlight can dramatically reduce their life span as, in warmer weather, heat can build up between the layers and warp the plastic. He also advised that I keep the black Rootrainer cells away from the direct sunlight of the shed window too. He says that I should look after my Rootrainers as I would look after biscuits…hmmmm….?  Unwrap, eat within 2 days and buy more? I think perhaps store in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight.

    The next mess to tackle was the unruly pile of bamboo canes that had somehow been interwoven with the electric strimmer cable and some nylon strawberry netting and was resembling some form of giant primary school textile project designed to teach texture and uninhibited creativity.

    Original Woody Soft Tie from Haxnicks binding canes

    Grandpa Haxnicks’ answer to this mess….Soft-Tie! Small lengths of the bendy, stretchy garden tie can be tightly twisted to keep all manner of things in place. I still had to untangle the mess but hopefully now that all is secured such muddles will be a thing of the past.

    Slim Soft Tie from Haxnicks in Proper Use

    Haxnicks Slim Soft Tie used to hang up Garden Tools

    I won’t bore you with the rest of the clearing that went on, except to say that it was interspersed with involuntary screams as the largest, hairiest spiders in the whole of Dorset were uncovered. One particularly evil spider, that had clearly had enough of all the fuss I was making, decided to disappear up my sleeve whereupon I entered into a kind of possessed frenzy, removing layers of clothing, shaking my arms and, much to Grandpa Haxnicks’ amusement, tripping over the wheelbarrow. This complete loss of dignity, coupled with extreme exposure to spiders seems to have had a curative effect on my arachnophobia. I feel a lot less squeamish in their presence and, I hope in the future, a little more in control when under attack. If any spider dares to crawl up my sleeve again then he will find I have a trick up there to render him helpless…Soft-Tie. Perfect for keeping unruly things, such as 8 hairy legs, under control!

  • Grandpa Haxnicks announces this year's exciting new products

    Hello Gardeners,

    I have lots of exciting new Haxnicks products to tell you about. After their successful launch at GLEE (the biggest UK garden trade exhibition) we are looking forward to seeing them out on the shop floor and on our website very soon.  This year our new products range from small essentials to great ideas and monumental showstoppers.

    So let's start with the small essentials...

    Water Waiters from Haxnicks

    Meet our cheeky new Water-waiters who have arrived to serve water to your plants whilst you are away. This simple self watering system draws water into the soil as needed, preventing under and over watering, and allows you to happily go on holiday without worrying about thirsty plants. They come in a pack of 3.

    Slug Busters from Haxnicks

    Slug-Busters ( 2 in a pack)  are non toxic and reusable slug traps. They are simply filled with beer or salt water and sunk into the soil to attract and trap those greedy slugs and snails that might otherwise be heading for your crops.

    Haxnicks Easy Riddle

    The EasyRiddle is a lightweight garden sieve that takes the strain out of soil sifting. Unlike a traditional riddle, it is flexible and lightweight so no vigorous side to side shaking or bouncing is needed, and what's more it folds flat for easy storage.

    Haxnicks Leaf Picker in full use

    More Haxnicks innovation.....The Leaf Picker! An exciting, new, fast and efficient way to collect leaves. This durable and lightweight tool is designed to spike up the leaves and then, using the instant release slider on the handle, the leaves are cleverly pushed off the spikes into your wheelbarrow or leaf pile. It's ingenious! Click on this link to see Leaf Picker in action.

    Next come our show stoppers!  An exciting new range of iconic plant frames designed for ornamental vegetable growing. You can create beautiful and impressive displays with your climbing veg. Beans, gourds, cucumbers, squashes and melons all taste great, but now they can look fabulous too. Those of you who have never considered growing gourds, squashes and pumpkins due to limited ground space can now grow upwards and use sky space instead.

    Haxnicks London Eye Plant Support Structure

     

    Haxnicks Eiffel Tower Plant Support Structure

    These are just two of the Frames in our range which includes a Big Ben Bean Frame as well as a long and a square ornamental growing frame. All of them are made of fully galvanised steel with a high quality powder coated finish. They come flat packed and can be easily taken down for winter storage.

    Oh and there is more....  StrimGuard a tough wrap around plastic mesh to protect young saplings from the evils of nylon strimmer wire and finally we will be bringing olive green coloured Cane Toppers  into stock soon.

    More news coming soon, but in the meantime Happy Gardening!

    Grandpa Haxnicks

  • The Potty Gardener gardening upside down

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    Approaching your gardening from a whole new angle can be refreshing, but I don't recommend this extreme angle. Whilst you can get a good look at low lying weeds and easily spot those hidden courgettes that are turning into monster marrows it can leave you disorientated and confused.  Actually the blog title 'gardening upside down' is not so much a reference to my physical orientation but rather a particular gardening error I made.....

    Plant Pots for Planting Bulbs from Haxnicks

    This week I was given some very smart new pots as a rather belated house warming present and with Autumn upon us decided to plant them up with bulbs as a welcoming doorstep display.  I planned to layer the bulbs for a full on flower fiesta throughout the spring.  The idea is that you plant your bulbs in layers according to their flowering height, tall ones at the bottom and shorties at the top. So in the bottom layer of compost I put tulip bulbs, in the middle narcissus and in the top went some incy wincy Iris bulbs. Unfortunately I wasn't really concentrating (perhaps the residual effect of having been upside down) and couldn't remember whether I had actually put the bulbs in the right way up. I am assured by Grandpa Haxnicks that if I have planted them upside down it won't stop them growing,  but may cause a slight delay in growth whilst the shoots re-orientate and perform a U turn!  Anyway, I was more careful with the second pot, layering the bulbs nose up. Finally I topped off the pots with mini cyclamen to provide some winter colour whilst the bulbs grow below.

    Cyclamen Flower Pots from Haxnicks

    Grandpa Haxnicks has kindly given me some Easy Fleece Jackets to pop over the plants should the weather turn really cold and threaten to damage my doorstep display. All that I need to do now is find some pot feet to help with the drainage. I have been warned that both the pot feet and my own should be placed firmly on the ground!

     

     

     

     

     

  • The Potty Gardener puts her planters to bed

     

    Haxnicks Garden Products can be brought onlineThis week I decided that my well-travelled potted veg garden had given its all and was ready to be put to bed for the winter. The pots and planters have had an exciting year travelling from greenhouse to garden, from the Cotswolds to Chelsea and finally settling in their new spot on top of a windy hill in Dorset.

    Healthy Potatoes and other Vegetables grown with Haxnicks ProductsMy final colourful crop was a healthy collection of oddly sized, strange coloured veg that nevertheless gave me a grin of self-satisfaction and made me wonder a few things….

    Q Are the satisfied smiles of celebrity gardeners that glare out of my gardening magazines perhaps true grow-your-own grins rather than I-can-charge-an-enormous-fee faces?

    A Of course.

    Q Can I call my giant courgette a marrow?

    A I can if I want to. Marrows and courgettes are both members of the squash family (cucurbit) with just a few horticultural differences. Strictly speaking, according to my research, if you want to grow marrows you should choose a thicker skinned variety of courgette designed to grow big and make sure that you are happy to spend most of autumn making chutney!

    Q Can I ripen the last few green tomatoes without the Indian summer that I was expecting?

    A Yes with a banana! Put the green toms in a box or jar with a ripe banana and it will release its magic ripening gas to turn your tomatoes red. Wouldn't we all go red if we were trapped in a confined place with a banana?

    Q What can I do with the seemingly useful looking soil that I have emptied from the planters?

    A The soil will have lost its magic, drained of goodness and gusto for growth.  As with crop rotation in veg plots you don’t want to be growing the same sort of veg again in the same soil risking pests and diseases that would turn your grow-your-own grin into a grimace. Put the soil on the compost heap or spread it on borders, but beware of the escaped potato from your potato planter soil. There will be at least one and it will pop up in your flower bed next year totally unaware how out of place it looks.

  • The Potty Gardener with Fancy tomatoes

    Haxnicks Garden Products can be brought onlineWhy garden in gardening clothes? My expectations of all things to do with gardening are changing. This year I have discovered that you don’t have to have a garden to grow your own fruit and veg, you don’t have to dig to grow potatoes, carrots don’t have to be orange and tomatoes don’t have to be red…or smooth… or even taste of tomatoes, therefore I conclude that you don’t have to dress like a gardener to garden. If  tomatoes can dress up and pretend to be something else then so can I.

    Growing Healthy Tomatillos in your Garden with Haxnicks

    Tomatilloes claim by their name and inner appearance to be something like a tomato and yet on the outside they wear a Chinese lantern fruit cloak. This week I harvested the first of this strange looking crop. The round green fruit beneath the cloak of disguise did indeed look very much like a green tomato, it also had the texture of a green tomato, but it was very sticky and tasted like a lime! It’s all a bit Willy Wonka and got me thinking about other possibilities…onions that taste of bananas perhaps, or beetroot that taste of kiwi but look like strawberries.....

    Single Tomatillo grown with Haxnicks Products

    However, if like me you prefer your tomatoes to taste like tomatoes then you don’t have to stick with growing round, red ones. There are plenty of crazy tomatoes with less confusing appearances such as yellow, green, black, stripy or crinkly ones, that like the best fancy dress outfits, attract plenty of attention but don’t spoil the feast!

    Growing Fancy Tomatoes with Haxnicks Products

  • The Potty Gardener's Purple Carrot Recipe

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    I think that I have pulled up the perfect purple carrot (and created a new tongue twister) !

    I was so excited by my first harvest of such beautiful specimens that with the speed and greed of Peter Rabbit I immediately munched my way through the first two, mud and all, savouring their flavour and satisfyingly carroty crunch.  However, as the greatest joy of growing your own veg is in sharing and showing them off with family and friends then I felt that a feast was called for.

    Purple Carrots grown with Haxnicks Products

    On a hot July day (there was one I promise), I did not want to be anywhere near a hot stove. I also wanted to preserve the just picked carroty crunch, so I felt that a hearty salad would be the perfect way to show off these pretty purple prizes.

    Here is my recipe for a quick, tasty and filling salad that looks pretty and is so healthy that you can gorge on it like a rabbit in a carrot patch!

    Purple Carrots prepared for Cooking

    Bulgar wheat, purple carrot and feta salad   (serves 4 )

    200g bulgar wheat, cooked in salted water until tender,

    200g roughly chopped Feta Cheese

    2 to 4 finely chopped purple carrots ( dep on size)

    Fresh chopped parsley and chives

    French dressing

    Black pepper

    Prepare the ingredients, marvel at the rainbow of colours inside your purple carrots, assemble the salad in a pretty dish, let friends and family admire, and guzzle as if Mr McGregor is round the corner!

    Purple Carrot Feta Salad Recipe from Haxnicks

     

     

     

     

     

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