Love to Grow

  • Thinning Carrots and Potted Primulas

    Happy Easter from The Potty Gardener

    It is the first of April, but I am in no joking mood…I thought that growing your own vegetables was meant to be good for the soul, rewarding, satisfying, character building even, but my soul is sullied. Such seemingly benign gardening gurus as Monty Don and Bob Flowerdew have persuaded me to be ruthless and destructive. My lovingly sown carrot seeds, that I nurtured single handed into young carrothood, have been culled!

    Those that strayed from their row, did not grow enough, or simply got in the way of my clumsy fingers are now chicken fodder. Of course, thinning out seedlings to leave a few centimetres between each means that there is now room for them to grow healthily. In the end it will be the greatest good for the greatest number, but it is no less disturbing to have had to choose the lucky few. I will have to repeat this process in a few weeks with my second sowing of carrots that has yet to germinate...I think that perhaps they are too fearful. They may also be a little embarrassed due to their unusual, most uncarrot-like colour...they are purple.

    Haxnicks Flower Pots

    To cheer myself up I have potted up some primulas to add a touch of Easter colour outside the porch and despite being a simple task it has satisfied my horticultural soul and restored my mood....

    Next week I will be sowing turquoise tomatoes,

    Happy Easter!

  • Sweet Peas and mice!

    Haxnicks Garden Products can be brought online
    The Potty Gardener

    At last the boring brown is yielding to verdant specks of life!  Potatoes are pushing up, and must be buried with another layer of compost, keeping their prying eyes covered. My first sowing of carrots has germinated in a most disorganised fashion thanks to some ‘help’ from my chickens. Tiny tomato seedlings are emerging and receiving a light misting of water when they ask nicely, but the biggest push has come from the sweet peas in their Rootrainers. Grandpa Haxnicks is full of advice about sweet peas, mostly mice advice…..

    Mice like cheese but mice LOVE sweet peas! Did I not soak my seeds in liquid paraffin overnight before sowing to put off the mice? Well no, actually that instruction was not on the seed packet. The sweet peas are now out in the greenhouse keeping cool to promote root rather than stem growth  (I grew up in a cold house, maybe that’s why I have long legs and a short body?). There is plenty of mousey evidence in the greenhouse so I had a good think out of the box, in the box and around the box about how to prevent my sweet pea seedlings from becoming a rodent salad.

    Growing Sweet Peas in Haxnicks Rootrainers

    Sweet pea fortress

    First, I have instructed my cat (who goes by the name of Mouse) that for once I will not get cross with her if she leaves me a furry present on the doormat. Second, I read that mice, like horses and elephants, do not like hanging upside down so I have raised the Rootrainers with a central flower pot so that a mouse would have to negotiate an overhang to reach the sweet peas. Thirdly, just in case a mouse might consider a Bear Grylls style ascent to the Sweet Pea summit I have surrounded all access points with holly bush trimmings to prick their little pink paws. My final fortification, should my first three fail to deter the ravenous rodents is a light sprinkling of chilli powder over the seedlings. Ha! So far so good, my four pronged approach seems to be doing the trick and keeping mice, horses and elephants at bay.

  • Sowing Tomatoes for planters

    Haxnicks Garden Products can be brought online

    I went to the garden centre this morning to buy my tomato seeds and was amused to find that all the staff were wearing tomatoes…on their noses! Well I felt that I had to try it for myself and I must say that it greatly enhances the experience of sowing tomatoes and I would recommend it to everyone.

    Having learnt last week that it is important to identify with your plants I bought 3 different types of tomato seed to reflect different parts of my character:

    Tumbler promise to be small, delicious and good in pots.
    Artisan™ bumblebee mix are colourful and go on giving.
    Tomatillo’s (lime flavoured tomatoes that come in a Chinese lantern) are suffering from an identity crisis!

    Tomato Seeds ready for planting in Haxnicks Rootrainers

    I sowed the seeds in seed trays and covered them with 6mm of compost. I then made some smart labels for the trays so that I could identify the seedlings as they appeared and bring them up according to their expectations. Finally, I proudly placed them on my kitchen windowsill. However, someone (I won’t mention names, but it wasn't my cheeky chickens this time), helpfully removed the ‘little bits of paper’ from the seed trays so I now have no idea which is which. Someone says that it doesn’t matter, and anyway it is not politically correct to use labels at such an early stage in development!?

    Speaking of labels, Grandpa Haxnicks told me a marvellous fact that made my day- apparently the word tomato comes from an ancient Aztec word meaning ‘plump thing with a navel’. So when my tomato seedlings are ready to be transplanted into their pots or planters I will label them 'plump thing with a navel', and maybe even give some as a present to Grandpa Haxnicks reminding him that it is important for him to identify with his plants.

  • More new Haxnicks products for 2015

    Hello gardeners,

    With longer,warmer days arriving I am very much looking forward to the new growing season ahead and getting out in the garden for a little longer than the hour that it takes for my fingers and toes to start complaining of the cold. We have lots of new products to inspire you in the garden this year. I told you about Sunbubble and Easy-Path, but if you missed that then do read my blogs below for last month that popped up somewhere in between the Potty gardener's ramblings about potatoes, carrots, and sweet peas.  However, now I want to tell you about our new range of elegant plant supports. They are all easy to use and will not only help you tame and support your climbing plants but add a touch of professional style to your garden.


    The Fold-a-frame can be used in a square to support tomatoes or as a dividing screen in flower borders. The four hinged steel panels clip together to lift separate and support the crop.

    Haxnicks Cane Supports for Patio Planters

    Cane Supports

    Cane supports for grow bags and planters are a set of 3 steel supports to keep bamboo canes upright and in their place and they look good too. They are perfect for supporting tomatoes, cucumbers and peppers and when you are finished with them they pack flat to be stored away for the next year, and the next, and the they are made to last!

    Haxnicks Cane Rings Sweet Peas

    Cane Rings

    Cane Rings are such a simple idea, but will do wonders for your unruly climbers whether they are in a pot or in the ground. The 2 rings will hold 6 bamboo canes top and bottom in a circular shape and make a sculpture from your sweet pea, bean or pea plants.

    Parasol Plant Support

    Finally there is the  Parasol Plant Support. This clever set of 6 curved parasol arms and tough polypropylene strings can be put together to create a growing frame for climbing plants to tame them into an impressive display. So when you are planning your planting this Spring why not plan for Haxnicks to help you to add some elegance and a touch of professional style to your climbers.  All these wonderful new products are available in garden centres and here on our website now.
    Happy Planning!
    Grandpa Haxnicks

  • Potatoes in Planters

    Haxnicks Garden Products can be brought online

    The time has come, I can no longer tolerate their mischievous presence on my kitchen window sill. If they have eyes on stalks that grow by the day who knows what else they might develop? I certainly cannot risk the possibility that they may someday be able to talk and expose my fifty shades of green lifestyle! So the potatoes are going under….well some of them anyway, the rest have been relegated to the windowsill at the back of the larder to chit behind a closed door.

    Grandpa Haxnicks advised that I shouldn’t sow them all at once unless I want to harvest them all at once and have a glut of potatoes, and then I would have to eat them all at once and have a gut full of potatoes and end up looking like a potato, not one of my ambitions, so I will sow one planter at a time.

    Planting Potato Seeds in Haxnicks Potato Patio Planters

    Job done. I chose the 4 seed potatoes with the most prying eyes, about 2.5cm long and buried (I think the kinder word is planted) them in a potato planter on top of 10cm and under 5cm of multi- purpose compost. When their prying shoots appear through the soil I will bury them further!

    Haxnicks Giant Standard Easy Fleece Tunnels

    EasyFleece Tunnels warming the soil

    I went to visit Grandpa Haxnicks this week hoping for a cup of tea and some gardening gossip (mostly vegetable based rivalry with his neighbour), only to be put to work preparing some of his raised vegetable beds for the growing season ahead. We removed all the weeds, dug it over and then put out some Easy Fleece tunnels to help warm the soil presumably so that he can get his growing season well under way before Mr Perfect Parsnips next door.

  • Here comes Sunbubble!

    Haxnicks Large Sunbubble Plants being watered

    Gardeners, I have some more exciting news from Haxnicks for you. Here on our website and coming soon to a garden centre near you is Haxnicks Sunbubble. You can create your own exciting plantarium in a bubble with this amazing dome shaped, instant plant house or conservatory. Like all Haxnicks products it is easy to use and solves a gardening problem in a new and innovative way. Not everybody has the right space, money or permission for a traditional greenhouse, so one that can be put up, moved or stored away quickly and easily is surely the answer, and Sunbubble does just that. It is made from UV stabilised PVC and flexible fibreglass rods and due to its patented one-piece, folding design it can be unpacked, put up, or packed away in an instant.

    What’s more Sunbubble will warm up quicker than a traditional greenhouse because its curved shape means that the surface stays at 90º to the direction of the sun all day long, achieving minimum reflection and maximum penetration of light, just what your plants need. And if you are craving some warmth and sunlight too, perhaps on days when it is too chilly to relax outside then Sunbubble makes the perfect shelter from which to enjoy your garden.

    Growing Plants in Haxnicks Large Sunbubble

    So grow crazy....

    Enjoying Breakfast in Haxnicks Standard Sunbubble

    or just grow lazy!

    There is plenty more news of new products coming shortly, but in the meantime have a look at Sunbubbles going up in this short video. Goodbye for now,

    Grandpa Haxnicks

  • Sweet Peas

    Haxnicks Garden Products can be brought online

    I have chased away my rainy day blues by envisaging the cheerful pots of sweet peas that will hopefully grace my garden this summer. There were so many varieties to choose from in my garden centre; whole racks of pretty seed packs with romantic names such as ’Romeo and Juliet’, ‘Turquoise Lagoon’ and ‘Northern Lights. I asked the young man in the shop which sweet pea he felt would suit me best, hoping he would suggest; a tall, leggy and beautiful, pale and interesting, or perhaps delicate and unusual variety.

    However he took one look at me and advised; ‘Madam you need something small and simple, I suggest dwarf patio mix.’ Not quite so romantic sounding. Still, perhaps it is important to identify with your plants.

    Haxnicks Deep Rootrainers

    Grandpa Haxnicks tells me proudly that Deep Rootrainers are just the thing to give my sweet peas the best possible start and other gardening experts seem to agree. Sweet Peas have a deep, sensitive root system and they don’t respond well to disturbance (the more I learn about them the more I identify with them). Rootrainers are shaped to encourage strong healthy root formation, and open like a book for easy transplanting without damaging the roots. I filled the Rootrainers with compost, giving the tray a bump to settle the contents, then gave the cells another top up and a sprinkling of water…then a splash…then a deluge (note to self: remember to  tightly screw on watering can hose). I replaced the drenched compost then sowed the seeds, one per cell, a centimetre deep and topped with compost. I have put on the propagating lid to protect the seedlings from uninvited pesky visitors such as mice, chickens, snails and heaven forbid garden gnomes

  • Carrots in Planters

    The Potty Gardener

    Last week, when I was busy preparing the greenhouse to be a suitable horticultural haven to kick start my potted garden, I had to evict some sitting tenants. Eggnog and Wotsit, my pesky hens, have been using the greenhouse as a conservatory over the winter and were most disconcerted to be sent packing back to their less luxurious day room, under the hedge. However, I will have to be on my guard (or just remember to shut the greenhouse door) as the cheeky chooks seem to be claiming squatter’s rights and proposing to sabotage my project.

    Sow easy! Preparing a bed to sow carrots would normally involve some muscle power, but all I had to do was fill my carrot planter (thoughtfully carrot coloured so I won’t forget what’s in it) with multi-purpose potting compost, then sow a few rows of seeds whilst quietly humming ‘Mary, Mary quite contrary..’ and imagining the neat little rows of bright green feathery carrot tops that would soon emerge filling me with simple satisfaction and wholesome happiness. Unfortunately when I turned my back to pick up my camera Eggnog and Wotsit silently tottered in and rearranged my sowing!

    Haxnicks Carrot Patio Planters

    As far as I am concerned carrots and chickens go very well together…on a plate not in a planter! I have managed to calm my feather induced fury by thinking about the next part of  my project... Sweet peas, who can ever feel anything but serene when thinking about their delicate scented ethereal blooms.. 'Mary, Mary, quite contrary....tummm te tummm.

  • Winter Plant Protection

    Haxnicks small Fleece Jackets for Winter Plant Protection

    Good morning Gardeners! Are you wrapping up to go outside today? Coat, scarf, gloves, woolly hat perhaps? Well, if so then spare a thought and a few pennies perhaps for your more vulnerable plants that might need something to keep the cold, damp and frostbite at bay. Wrap them up with a Haxnicks Easy Fleece Jacket, an Extra thick Fleece blanket or a Victorian Bell cloche. We often receive questions about looking after container grown plants in the winter (listen in Potty Gardener), one of the most common being cordyline palms. I would suggest gathering all the leaves together and holding them in an upright position with some string or soft-tie, but when it is really cold an Easy Fleece Jacket or even two should help to protect the foliage and stop the frost getting to the growing point of the palm. Do make sure to remove the jackets when the weather is warmer to avoid rotting.

    The Royal Horticultural Society offers some good advice on protecting plants during the winter months and unless I am very much mistaken it looks like they have opted to spend their pennies on a Haxnicks Victorian Bell Cloche.

    Growing White Flowers with Haxnicks

    Many plants bravely push on through the cold without any protection but one in particular never fails to give me a childlike surprise every year. Spotting the first modest blooms of snow drops in my garden always makes me smile, but if they are still hiding in your garden then why not wrap up and warm yourself inside and out by a visit to a snowdrop display in someone else's? The National garden Scheme has a list of snowdrop gardens open in aid of nursing and caring charities in February.

  • Seed potatoes and Spring cleaning

    Haxnicks Potty Gardener

    The Potty Gardener

    There are some peculiar brown, wrinkly things lurking on my kitchen windowsill. They may be small and silent but rather alarmingly they seem to be growing poisonous eyes on stalks! Grandpa Haxnicks assures me that they can’t see me (I have my doubts), but I am relieved to know that in a few weeks I can safely bury them out of sight. If they continue to grow and possibly reproduce I am told that it is quite reasonable at some stage to dig them up, boil them alive and eat them (shhh maybe they have ears too).

    Haxnicks Tips on Seed Pots

    These chitting seed potatoes, sporting the racy names of ‘Swift’, ‘Rocket’, and ‘Red duke of York’ promise to give a good summer crop and I’m told are ideal for growing in planters. Who gets to choose potato names I wonder, because if these little chitters don’t live up to their names I shall be offering to rename them (shhh maybe they have ears too)? If my potty ramblings haven’t satisfied your curiosity about growing potatoes in planters then have a look at Haxnicks Potato Planters

    Haxnicks Patio Planters

    Anyway, as well as keeping a careful eye on those potato eyes I have gathered some pots, planters and grow bags ready to create my self-contained garden. Grandpa Haxnicks has kindly delivered some goodies and I have scrubbed up some old pots. I have also cleaned up and cleaned out the greenhouse and green it was, every pane coated in verdant mould, so I scrubbed the glass with a vinegar solution which apparently made me smell like an old gherkin. Lovely!

    The next stage in my plan is carrots, Amsterdam Forcing Carrots to be precise. I also wonder who names the carrots? They sound even more imposing than the potatoes, why not something gentler like Nether Wallop Nudging or Trumpton Tender? Any more suggestions…..?

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