Love to Grow

  • Clearing Sarah's Garden - Leaf Picker saves the day

    Having cleared the lawn with the Leaf Picker today I need to do some clearing of a different sort.  Serious thrash and burn style clearing as the house has been empty for 2 years.  The part of the garden in question could charitably be deemed in need of some attention. This particular bit is covered in all sorts of unfriendly plants, brambles, what I suspect are very overgrown roses, tiny emerging nettles and more brambles – basically enormous prickly characters that mean me harm.

    Clearing the Garden for Spring in Haxnicks Garden

     

    Time to make a start

    After weeks of busying myself with other tasks and basically avoiding it I have resigned myself and will now have to just get on with it.  Today was the day.  Braving the remaining snow and armed with my new secateurs (2 sets just in case), my lovely new gardening gloves, and with my Leaf Picker relegated to the subs bench, it was time to do battle. A slow job but apart from the brambles stealing my hat every time I turned round the going was good.  The pile was building and the ground was coming into sight – I was winning.

    Newly Cleared Ground at Haxnicks Garden

     

    Haxnicks Leaf Picker against felled tree

     

    Haxnicks Leaf Picker head in leaves

     

    But someone had been there before me.  The ground was covered with dead bits of bramble which, for the record, are even sharper than the live ones.  If there was any hope of finding the inner manicured garden then this was going to have to be cleared.  Inspiration (and an aching back) kicked in.  Having resigned myself to not needing the Leaf Picker again until Autumn it was off the bench and back in play. Perfect for reaching behind the brambles, avoiding the gentle stings of baby nettles and picking up the 2 years plus of dead leaves.  It even picked up quite a few of the sticks littering the ground which was an added bonus.

    Haxnicks Leaf Picker spikes with leaves

    Rain stopped play and school run curtailed my explorations.  So the dream has not quite become reality at time of writing.  However, joy of joys, this part of the garden is starting to emerge from the mists.  A few more hours work and my neighbour’s plot will no longer be at risk of invasion - thanks Leaf Picker!

  • Madeleine's Garden - Borders and Onions

    As the weather has been so inviting over the past few days with lots of sunshine and warmer temperatures I have been busy outside generally tidying up the garden and building site. Our house was ‘finished’ – well we call it finished but of course there is an everlasting list of continuing jobs – last year, which means that I can now start with a bit of landscaping and making of borders.

    I am planning to make a border all the way around the house, some parts gravel and some parts climbing roses, wisteria, a self-fertile kiwi tree, bulbs and other things that I haven’t yet chosen. It would be fun to have a theme perhaps, an Italian or French corner or maybe all white and pink. We’ll see... Let me know if you have any good ideas.

    Garden Borders and what needs doing from Haxnicks

    Empty Flower Beds at Haxnicks Garden

    A small update on my tomato seedlings, they have just started to grow their real leaves although they are still tiny weeny – 2cm high, which is lucky as there is so much more cold weather to come and they love the warmth of my windowsill.

    Growing Young Plants for Haxnicks Garden

    The sweet peas are getting taller I think that next week I will pinch off the tops so that more stems grow from the bottom making bushier plants, therefore, more prolific in flowers.

    Young plants on window sill in Haxnicks Rootrainers

    I had a rummage in my seed packet drawer and came to the conclusion that I had no more seeds to plant at the moment except for my onion sets, I couldn’t resist and today I planted them and then covered them with fleece tunnels.

    Onion sets planted at about 10cm apart. Fleece tunnels to keep the ground warmer.

    I have placed the onion rows to the outsides of the bed as they act as an insect repellent later on when I have rows of carrots and salads in between.

     

     

  • Madeleine's Garden 12th February

    Winter jobs in the Garden

    Today was a beautiful sunny day here on the Wiltshire/Dorset border.

    We are spoiled by having such lovely warm houses, that going outside can seem a little daunting as it is so cold. So I wrapped up warmly - woolly hat and all, and ventured into 2°.

    Finally my two little garden gnomes saw light as I pruned the raspberry canes down to about 3 inches high and got rid of any dead ones and unwanted weeds. Maybe tomorrow I will spread some manure around their bases to give them a little warmth and nourishment – The raspberries not the gnomes!

    I'm never quite sure how garden gnomes actually find their way into a garden.... they are never invited, they just seem to turn up.  Maybe someone brought them here as a birthday surprise one year, sneaked them in and then forgot to say anything. Anyway, it doesn't seem very fair to get rid of them just because I didn't choose them myself.

    Before                                                                   

    Before the Clearing of Haxnicks Garden

    After 

    After the Clearing of Haxnicks Garden

    I have decided to plant a beech hedge along our 'drive to be', ready for when we can start to use it. I always admire people who can think in advance. So I bought 30 plants from a mail order catalogue. They arrived and this is the perfect time of year to plant them. Hedging and trees like to be planted when they are dormant during the winter months.

    Haxnicks Garden Products can be brought online

    Lastly I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw that some of the sweet pea and tomato seeds that I had sown less than 2 weeks ago were appearing. Doesn’t time fly.

    Preparing the Garden for Spring with Haxnicks Rootrainers     First signs of Spring plants growing from Seeds in Haxnicks Rootrainers

  • Madeleine's garden 30th Jan 2018

    30th January – Mending fences and sowing the first of the seeds – Tomatoes, Sweet Peas and Delphiniums.

    Well I still haven’t pruned the raspberries. But with the help of my university student son who was anxious to earn a few pennies before returning to university, we mended the fence. He hammered the sledge hammer and I held the post. I was a little too close and received a thump on the collar bone from the hammer, thank goodness I was alright and my son was truly concerned and apologetic.

    This morning was beautiful and I managed to sow the tomato seeds, some delphinium seeds and sweet peas. I have a large windowsill in our house so have brought them all inside so that they can germinate. They all need roughly 15-20 degrees. I have often been tempted to sow tomatoes earlier and it never pays off so the end of January is an ideal time to start.

    Seeds emerging from Haxnicks Rootrainers

     

     

  • Madeleine's Garden 10th Jan 2018

    January 10th 2018 – checking out the patch again and writing.

    The storms have died down for the moment and the sun is creeping out from behind the mist, so I am eager to have a look at my garden and see what jobs I could possibly do while the weather permits.

    The fence has been blown down and snapped by the harsh winds on one side of my patch, so that will need rebuilding, and for the moment the wooden entrance is leaning to the south in a rather relaxed looking way.

    Haxnicks Garden Products can be brought online

    I haven’t yet pruned the raspberries from late Autumn, I must have forgotten.

    Clearing the Garden after Winter

    The patch generally needs tidying up, but I don’t want to do too much yet as the ground is very wet and I don’t want to make it any muddier than necessary.

  • Madeleine's Garden

    Madeleine’s Garden 2018

    January 8th 2018 – Inspecting the Patch and buying seeds

    I haven’t had a minute to even look at my vegetable patch for at least 6 weeks, Christmas has been time consuming and the weather has been grotty.

    I passed a garden centre and had a good rummage through their seed selection, in between the left-over Christmas decorations, choosing which tomatoes to sow this year and finding any new fun seeds to sow. For some reason butternut squash seeds are outrageously expensive £3.99-£4.99 for about 8-12 seeds. I chose some normal courgette seeds as actually having tried so many different varieties I decided that I like the green ones best.

    I also saw some onion sets and bought some giant onions and some red onions, wondering when I should plant them. It looks like I shall have to wait until March unless of course I use a Haxnicks poly tunnel………

    Haxnicks Garden Tunnels

     

     

  • Growing on a balcony, a roof top and more!

    Growing plants on rooftops, balconies and terraces with HaxnicksWhether it’s a balcony, a roof top or a terrace, urban gardeners need to be creative about growing in small spaces. I met a lovely lady in a nice hat at Chelsea Flower show who has this balcony in central London. I think it would look marvelous adorned with pots and planters, but she claimed to be rather too busy!

    Over the years, all sorts of gardeners have been kind enough to share their pictures of creative growing in unusual places….

    Haxnicks patio planters and pots growing in a treehouse.

    These crazy crops are 30 ft high in a tree house. I am told the benefits of growing so high outweigh the impracticality. Not only are the planters out of reach from the family goat, but slug pellets are not required at such dizzy heights. Even the least sluggish slug would find the climb beyond his capabilities. Watering requires a cleverly devised pulley system that keeps the children fully entertained, mostly due to the soaking of unwary passers-by.

    Haxnicks patio planters on the roof of a river boat

    No problem with watering here! This floating herb garden in pots and planters helps to add a little home-grown flavour when cooking up a feast in the galley.

    Growing Tomatoes in a Telephone Box

    In the absence of a Greenhouse this disused telephone box is a great place to grow tomatoes. Not only is it a warm shelter, but the perfect width to support the plant as the stems become heavily laden with fruit. It’s the perfect colour too!

    Growing Plants in the back of a car

    More colour matching here. This car may have reached the end of its useful life on the road, but makes a perfect greenhouse now. It’s cosy for germination in the early Spring and the windows can be wound down for ventilation on warmer days. When crops are ready they can be popped on the top out of reach of cats, dogs, goats and slugs. Carrots à la car!

     

     

  • 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.

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