Love to Grow

  • Growing Courgette Plants in a Small Space

    After potatoes, courgettes (or zucchini if you’re across the pond), are one of the easiest and most satisfying vegetables to grow. Fast emerging seeds rapidly turn into triffid sized monsters with tropical looking flowers. Before you know it, you have a continuous supply of shiny green (or yellow) veg that can be included in every conceivable recipe from stews to salads, stir-fries to cakes. Pick a handful, turn your back and more will emerge in just a few days, and there are always the ones that get away. Those carefully camouflaged courgettes that lurk under the shady green canopy catch me out every year and before I know it I have a monster marrow to wrestle with.

    If you think you don’t have space to grow courgettes, then think again. If you think you don’t have enough space to grow courgettes in pots or bags, then think again. If you think what you buy in a supermarket tastes the same as a home-grown courgette, then think again. Or just stop thinking and grow some! It is remarkable that what I consider to be one of the hungriest, thirstiest vegetables to grow can be sustained in a very small growing space with the right care and attention. So, even if your only outside space is a balcony or a front doorstep you can still have a summer-long crop of deliciously nutty home-grown courgettes.

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    You can plant up to 3 courgette plants in just one of our Haxnicks veg planters. It seems like a lot, considering how huge they will grow.  The key to success is a good multipurpose compost, lots of water and nutrition. I use liquid Growmore to feed my courgettes, but any good liquid fertiliser will do the trick. A weekly dose seems to be sustaining them well. These particular plants are already dishing out a steady crop. Courgettes require lots of water, their huge leaves quickly droop if you haven't given them enough, so keep on top of watering.

    Growing Courgettes in your Garden with Haxnicks Garden Products

    I grew my tropical looking giants from seed in Rootrainers on a warm windowsill back in February.

    I transplanted them into pots briefly until they had 2 pairs of leaves and a good strong stem meaning that they were strong enough to go out in the greenhouse and cope with the chilly nights. It was a little bit risky putting them out so early, but as I was growing some in time for Chelsea Flower show they had to be coaxed to magnificence in good time!

    Grandpa Haxnicks

     

     

  • Chelsea Flower show preparations 2017

    Hello gardeners,

    The Chelsea Flower show is fast approaching and plant preparations have been under way for quite some time now. If only the show was in July, my job would be made a lot easier. Forcing summer-grown fruit and vegetables to be at their best in mid May can be a little bit touch and go, but despite the chilly temperatures over the last couple of weeks my container-grown plants are looking good.

    Haxnicks Potato Patio PlanterThere was one particularly warm day when I decided that the potato patio planters should venture out of the Sunbubble as I was worried that they might be growing too fast. I then forgot to put them back under cover on the very evening that one of those cheeky late Spring frosts decided to descend. It was extremely lucky that I woke up at midnight, realised the peril the potatoes were in, and rushed out in my pyjamas to put them to bed. There was a little bit of frost damage to some of the leaves, and I got cold, wet feet, but both quickly recovered.

    Haxnicks Strawberry Patio PlanterThe container-grown strawberries are in flower and some small green fruits are appearing. I am very much hoping for some warmer weather to ripen them to a rosy hue in time for the show.

    Haxnicks Vigoroot Pots with lupins, strawberries and herbs

    The Vigoroot grown plants  are looking fabulously green and healthy and ready to grace the stage on our Haxnicks stand at Chelsea.

    Other seeds for success were sown this time last year. Those were the seeds of an idea to develop a new product that would combine the magic of our hugely successful Vigoroot™ fabric with a simple self-watering system. From this idea grew The Vigoroot Easy Table Garden. This exciting new product is a raised table garden, greenhouse and irrigation system all rolled into one. The RHS are excited about it too as it has been nominated for the Chelsea New product of the Year finals…watch this space!!

    Grandpa Haxnicks

  • Keeping Out the Easter Bunny and all his friends!

    Haxnicks Garden Products can be brought onlineThe Easter Bunny is no myth. Every year, just as carefully nurtured seedlings are beginning to flourish, the Easter bunny appears. Sponsored by Cadbury’s he is duty-bound to hide chocolate eggs in your garden. However, he and his accomplices seem to think that in return for this uninvited favour it is perfectly acceptable to help themselves to whatever delicacies lie in their path. So, be ready this Easter and protect your emerging crops against these greedy nibblers!

    Keeping Rabbits away from Garden Plants

    Growing your veg in pots and planters means that juicy crops may be harder to reach for the rabbits, but those of you with a ground level vegetable patch have a harder task. Rabbit-proof fencing needs to be at least 120cm high with 30cm dug below the ground and a 15cm 'skirt' bent outwards to stop them digging their way in. When you factor in the fence posts this all adds up to beyond the annual defence budget of most gardeners.

    Protecting Garden Plants from Rabbits

    So, instead of protecting the entire garden you could just protect the most vulnerable plants.  A Micromesh Pest and Wind Barrier is a cheap and easy way to surround a raised bed and due to the tiny gauge mesh will also give protection against insect invasion such as carrot fly.

    Haxnicks Micromesh Easy Tunnels offer great protection for garden plantsA crop cover such as a net or poly tunnel  can quickly be rolled out over a row to deter the rabbits. Just remember to pull the drawstring tight at the ends!

    Garden Cloche offers great protection for your Garden Plants from pests and wild animalsFor smaller, individual plants Bell Cloche will, amongst many other things, help to keep the bunnies at bay.

    Finally, if all else fails you could take a Mr McGregor style approach and chase the bob-tailed bandits with a rake. However, this may involve endless night-shifts as rabbits normally emerge to feed between dusk and dawn.  No wonder Mr McGregor was so grumpy!

  • The Potty Gardener on strawberries without slugs

    Haxnicks Garden Products can be brought onlineI don’t have a lot in common with slugs and snails, but if I was looking for common ground then I might choose our shared love of strawberries. Those sweet, red, juicy berries are simply irresistible to me, so I don’t blame the marauding molluscs for wanting a munch too. However, I would rather not share my strawberries with anyone, let alone slugs and snails. One simple solution is to grow them in containers, raising the plants and their fruits above the path of destruction.

    Haxnicks Strawberry Patio Planter on show

    There are all sorts of weird and wonderful shaped strawberry containers available from dinky hanging baskets to sky-scraping towers. Strawberry patio planters come with 8 planting pockets so that the strawberries can be sown both in the top and sides of the planter, allowing you to sow 12 plants in a very compact space. The added advantage of using this type of lightweight planter is that you can plant it up earlier in the season, keeping it undercover in a greenhouse or conservatory and then moving it outside when the risk of frost has passed. This could mean that you can harvest your first strawberries well before Wimbledon!

    Elsanta bare rooted strawberry plant

    Strawberries sown from seed can take up to a month to germinate and usually won’t crop until the following year. That’s a long wait (even for a snail). So, I buy my strawberry plants as bare rooted runners. Elsanta are a reliable type for spring planting.  They look a little like a dying alien life-form when they arrive in the post and may make you wonder what you have paid for. Don’t worry, just follow your first instinct to soak the roots in water and get them planted as soon as possible.

    Strawberry Patio Planters from Haxnicks, offering the best and healthiest way to grow Strawberries

    In no time at all the rather miserable looking plants will spring into life and start looking healthy. Keep them well watered and feed fortnightly during the growing season. For extra fabulous fruiting you can give them a feed of high-potash liquid fertiliser during flowering. Come June you should have some crops of large, fat, juicy strawberries growing nicely out of reach from  large, fat juicy slugs and snails.

  • Grandpa Haxnicks' advice on how to make cut flowers last

    I am not a huge fan of cut flowers unless they have come straight from my garden. However, at this time of the year, with Mother's day looming and little to pick in the garden, then shop-bought flowers may be your only option. I have often been asked about the many old wives' tales about keeping your cut flowers looking fresh. Well here is some old man's wisdom instead!

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    As soon as a flower is cut it's access to food and water via a root system is cut too, but it can continue to draw water and nutrients up through the cut stem. On first cutting, air can enter the stem and cause a sort of embolism that prevents further absorption. Re-cutting the stems when you first get the flowers home can remove any trapped air and help the flowers to re-hydrate.

    Preparing Cut Flowers for the home with Haxnicks

    Put some lukewarm water in the sink. Using sharp scissors,  cut 1-2 inches off the stems underwater at a sharp angle. Then remove any foliage that will sit below the water line in the vase.Display your Cut Flowers in your favourite Vase

    Often flowers are provided with a small sachet of ''flower food'' to add to the water. This is most likely to contain some sugar, some acid and some bleach...sounds harsh! The sugar is a feed, the acid is to kill off bacterial growth and the bleach to maintain a ph balance in the water. All this is designed to keep your flowers in tip-top condition. If you don't get that little sachet then a drop of apple cider vinegar and a small teaspoon of sugar will do a good job too. Make sure that you change the flower water every 3 days and you can also re-cut the stems if you don't mind rearranging the flowers.  Another good tip to prolong their life is to put the flowers somewhere cool overnight such as the garage or porch.

    Grandpa Haxnicks

     

  • The Potty Gardener ventures out to sow broad beans

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    I have been hiding for the past week, paying heed to the storm and snowfall warnings from the met office. At last, it seemed that it was safe to emerge. In fact, having had a cursory nose poke outside, it was almost as if the terrible weather had never happened. After such confinement, I was eager to kick off the growing season and get my green fingers grubby.

    Broad beans ready to harvestSo, what could I grow in a pot outside in late January? Broadly speaking, not a lot. Narrowly speaking, broad beans. I am a big fan of broad beans. Not the big tough ones in their chewy grey skin, but the young baby ones. When they have been blanched for a few minutes and then popped out of their little leather jackets, the bright green beans are sweet, tender and pretty. I feel a song coming on…

    Broad beans in Haxnicks Rootrainers

    I am starting my beans off in Rootrainers and transplanting them into large pots to grow on later in the Spring. I have chosen a popular dwarf variety, ‘the Sutton’ as I intend to grow them on in containers. I have also mixed in a few ‘Crimson flowered’ beans for that ornamental touch.

    Sowing broad beans in Haxnicks Rootrainers

    As the beans are going to stay in their Rootrainers for a while, I used potting rather than seed compost for extra nutrition.  I got my green fingers grubby by poking a little hole in each cell ready to receive the beans. Then I popped one bean in each hole and covered them over with more compost. The beans should be happy outside under-cover in my cold frame, as long as I remember to water and ventilate them on warmer days.

    Broad Bean Flowers

    If you have a veg patch that isn't too soggy, you can sow where they grow now under cloches. The advice from Grandpa Haxnicks is to only sow broad beans directly in the ground now if you have well drained soil and a cat. The cat is to eat the mice who will eat your beans!

  • New Products for 2017

    Happy New Year to you all! We have a host of exciting new gardening products to inspire you in 2017.

    Maxi Rootrainers from Haxnicks with tree saplings growing.

    Bigger Rootrainers

    Due to customer demand we have extended our range of Rootrainers to include a larger size only previously used for commercial growers. Maxi Rootrainers are perfect for creating super-strong roots necessary for establishing trees, shrubs and prize-winning plants. With the extra deep cells, plants can remain in the Rootrainers for up to 2 years without the need for potting on.

    Putting out a Haxnicks Easy Seedling Tunnel.

    Smaller Easy Tunnels

    Inspired by a keen gardener in the family Haxnicks have recreated one of our best-selling products in miniature. The Easy Seedling Tunnels have all the benefits of our larger Tunnels and make for an inexpensive way to maximize sowing success.

    Haxnicks Tree Mat protecting a young tree.

    Tree Care

    It seems we all love our trees! Following on from the success of our Flexi-mesh tree guards and StrimGuards we are expanding our tree care range. Our coir Tree Mats are biodegradable, natural looking mulch mats that will give vital support to young trees by suppressing weed growth and aiding water retention.

    Haxnicks Fruit Tree Protector being put on.

    Those of you with fruit trees and bushes will be well aware that a badly timed frost or greedy birds can hugely reduce summer crops. Now you can easily protect the blossom from harsh weather and the fruits from pest invasion with our carefully constructed Fruit tree protectors. Having battled with ordinary netting in our orchard we have gone to town on designing a net that is easy to use and fit for purpose. Hooks, toggles and loops for lifting over the net, a sealable opening side, reinforced seams, a drawstring bottom, wildlife friendly mesh...this is no ordinary net!

     Haxnicks' Herb Wall Planter laying in the Sun

    No garden required

    For those of you growing in smaller spaces, vertical gardening is a great way to maximise your outdoor space and make a feature on bare wall or fences. Our simple Herb Wall Garden will enable you to grow fresh herbs without needing any ground space. Perfect for roof terraces, patios and balconies this smart oxford fabric planter can be planted up with your favourite culinary herbs in each pocket, hung within reach of your kitchen and out of reach of pets and slugs!

    Haxnicks' Vigoroot Easy Table for the Garden

    Another small space growing solution comes in the form of our Self-watering Vigoroot Easy table garden. This raised fabric planter comes with a poly protection cover and has a hidden 5 litre reservoir that waters the plants via capillary action. This clever little growing system is made from our revolutionary Vigoroot fabric that will 'air prune' roots for a healthier plant and more abundant cropping.

    Haxnicks' Boot Clamps to protect from rain against a brick wall

    Leaving the best to last, this has to be my favourite new product for 2017.  Anyone with a new year's resolution to be more organised is going to love the BootClamp. A simple device to clip over the top of your boots means that they they can be hung up out of the way and be kept in a tidy pair, but best of all muddy boots don't need to come indoors! The clamp fits so well that neither rain nor spiders will get a look-in.

    So, hopefully there is something here for all types of gardeners. We are already thinking about our new product designs for 2018, so if you have any bright ideas let us know!

    Happy gardening,

    Grandpa Haxnicks

  • How to Choose and Look After Your Apple Trees

    Apple Trees in the sun by Haxnicks' Potty Gardener

    Today, 21st October, apple lovers all over the country are coming together to celebrate Apple Day.  Garden and cookery writer Madeleine Cardozo has joined us as a guest blogger today to offer her juicy fruity advice on growing apple trees.

     

    Growing Apple Trees

    Plant from October to March

    Harvest from July to November

    Prune January to February

    Choosing

    I have noticed that we get the most amazing apples from our two apple trees. This is because they are two trees of the same type; they blossom at the same time and pollinate each other. These are the ideal circumstances for apple trees, two of each. There is a lot that I could write about apple trees but I shall try to keep it simple. It may seem that I am contradicting myself on occasions too, that is because there are loads of rules you can break.

    What kind of apple tree would you like? A cooking apple tree or an eating apple tree? Really you should have at least two apple trees within 30m of each other, they need to blossom at the same time and therefore pollinate each other in order to produce fruit. You can get varieties that are self pollinating but they are not so reliable e.g. Chiver’s Delight or Worcester Pearmain.   As you can imagine they come in all shapes and sizes.

    Madeleine Cardozo's Apple Trees

    Option 1: Why not choose an early harvesting variety for eating e.g. Discovery , these are rubbish for storing, but you can pick them off the tree for a good couple of months. You could then have a late harvesting variety for eating that you can store for the winter e.g.  Ashmead’s Kernel. Lastly a cooking apple tree e.g. Bramley’s seedling, for making chutneys and apple crumbles. Make sure that their blossoming time overlaps to cross pollinate.

    Option 2: There is an apple tree that has been developed called a family tree, providing a way that you can have only one apple tree. A number of stems of different apple varieties have been grafted onto the ‘root stock’ (trunk). This apple tree will pollinate itself, but it may be slightly lopsided as the different varieties will grow to different sizes. This may be fun experimenting with if you don’t have much space.

    Option Three: Buy a variety like the James Grieve or Blenheim Orange, which bears a fruit that will taste sweet but is a good cooking apple as well. You will need two of these trees.

     

    Planting

    Depending on the size of the tree and what you want to do with it will determine how far apart you plant them.  Full sized, free standing trees will need to be about 5m 15ft apart. If you are growing ‘trained’ trees such as espaliers they can be 50cm 1½ ft apart. A hole needs to be dug, larger than the roots and the earth that will surround the roots needs to be loosened. Put some manure into the hole, place your tree roots in and cover with earth. Make the ground firm on top. Add a good lot of manure or compost to suppress the weeds and keep it moist. Hammer a large supporting stake next to it to stop it blowing over and tie the tree to it. Lastly water it well. It will take approximately three years for the tree to establish itself.

    Bad things that can Happen to your Trees

    Maggots – when your lovely looking apples get holes in them. You can buy codling moth traps and hang them in the tree from May to August.

    Mildew – When the young shoots and flower buds have a dusting of grey powder. Ignore if it is not too bad, if it is a medium attack cut off the affected branches, or for a heavy attack you will need to spray on a fungicide.

    Aphids – cause leaf curling, not much you can do and it doesn’t affect the fruit really.

    Canker – causes the bark to shrink back and flake usually in rings, the first signs are little black rounds, then holes in the leaves.  If you can, cut off affected branches further than you have to. There is no cure.

    Fireblight – Makes leaves and shoots look as though they have been burnt – This is a bacterial disease and can affect many trees and roses. Cut off any branches that are affected, cutting 2ft, 60cm further back than you need to. All tools need to be disinfected and if the tree is badly infected dig it up and burn it. There is no cure.

    Choosing the Perfect Apple Tree by Haxnicks

    Looking After your Tree’s and Pruning

    When in drought – water small trees. Large trees should be able to look after themselves.

    Every spring add organic fertiliser (manure) around the base of the tree. Keep the tree weed and grass free for the first few years, this will help the nutrients from the soil get to the tree. After it is established you can have grass growing all the way up to the trunk, roses entwined and sheep grazing.......

    The pruning for apple trees mainly gets done in the winter, November to March. Cut off the branches where they are crowded, maintain a good shape for the tree, cut off dead, damaged or diseased wood and trim down to the ‘spurs’ (short stubby twiggy bits). Your next harvest of apples will grow from these. Some apple trees are tip-bearing, which means that they grow on the ends of the branches, so if yours is like that don’t lob off the tips! Cut off any spindly shoots that sprout from the ground around the foot of the tree.

    Summer pruning is usually done in July and only on ‘trained’ trees. Here you are training the tree to grow in the direction that you want it to grow, cutting off any extra shoots and taking the tips out of the main stem to halt the upward growth.

  • Grandpa Haxnicks tells of Adventures in a Sunbubble

    A Haxnicks Sunbubble was originally designed as an instant pop-up greenhouse, but we had not envisaged that it might become so much more than that. Some people have been extremely creative with their Sunbubbles and I would like to share the inspiration.

    Runner beans in a Haxnicks SunbubbleEarly this year our good friend, the The Potty Gardener, was tasked with growing runner beans in time for a display at the RHS Chelsea Flower show. The beans grew in Vigoroot pots and climbed up strings inside her Sunbubble.  With maximum daylight exposure in a cosy, moist environment the beans flowered early and produced great looking, healthy runner beans by mid May. Perfect timing for Chelsea.

    Using a Haxnicks Sunbubble as a tent

    One customer sent in this picture of a Haxnicks Sunbubble extension to his tent. A brilliant idea! Due to the great British weather, campers are often forced into the gloom of their tents. Now they can take a portable conservatory and enjoy the daylight.

    Haxnicks Sunbubble at a festival

    Then there were the festival goers who were thrilled that they could easily spot their Sunbubble in a sea of tents. Although they did have to remember that all in-tent activities were on view!

    Haxnicks sunbubble as an art studio

    But the most creative use of a Sunbubble this year has to go to Alice Maddicot who used it as travelling pop-up art studio. Touring Somerset in September, Alice invited members of the public to create work inspired by the landscape in a new location each day. You can read more about Alice's artistic adventure with a Sunbubble here.

    Haxnicks Sunbubble under cover

    Finally, we are not sure what is going on inside here. A pop-up circus perhaps?

    Goodbye for now,

    Grandpa Haxnicks

     

     

     

     

  • The Potty Gardener sows Christmas Potatoes

    Haxnicks Garden Products can be brought onlineSurely it’s too early to be thinking about Christmas, I hear you say. At least I think I do, amongst the many other voices in my head. I am indeed thinking about Christmas. More specifically I am thinking about potatoes at Christmas. Even more specifically, delicious homPotato_Patio_planterse-grown roast potatoes at Christmas being proudly placed on the table to gasps of awe and admiration and maybe a harmonious chorus of Gloria!

    Normally, British potatoes are home-grown from early spring throughout the summer. Instead I am planning to sow some spuds now in Potato Planters, nurture them through the autumn and hopefully harvest them in time to share oven space with whatever beast we decide to roast for Christmas lunch this year.

     

    Which variety?

    At this time of year, cold-stored potato tubers should available from specialist seed merchants.  Maris Peer or Nicola are good winter varieties that don’t need chitting.  Having said that the ones that I have just picked up from my local Garden Centre are vigorously chitting.  Looks like they are chomping at the bit.  So we will see if this makes a difference.

    I have had varying success in the past just using supermarket spuds. Grandpa Haxnicks tells me that this is because harvested potatoes go into a dormant state for some months before they are ready to produce new shoots. So, either I found particularly stress resistant tubers in the supermarket.  Or they had been on the shelf for a long time and were very ready to get out and breed!

    Haxnicks Potato Patio Planter foliage

    Plant your eager-to-breed tubers in the potato bags.  Plant on about 6 inches of multi- purpose compost and cover with the same amount again. Each time the foliage pushes through the soil, cover it again until the bag is full. Keep them watered and fed with a liquid fertiliser. The Bage can be kept in a greenhouse, but should also be OK outside provided they are given frost protection. A cosy Fleece Jacket should do the trick, no need to bother with a scarf or gloves. In the autumn, when the foliage yellows and dies back you can cut it off.  then leave the potatoes in fairly dry soil until Christmas. Once harvested, be reassured that they will then enter their dormant state and wil be perfect for peeling and roasting.

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