Love to Grow

  • Broad bean experiment: did it work?

    How to Grow early Broad Beans with Vigoroot Pots, Growlite Coir and Water Saucers

    I have an update for those of you following my early broad bean experiment (Original blog post).  Firstly to recap, this is a new and rather different method of growing broad beans in Haxnicks Vigoroot Pots, Growlite and Water Saucers.

    Broad beans in Haxnicks Vigoroot Pots Beans have started to grow

    You will recall I sowed the beans in December.  Possibly much too early for broad beans but I like to experiment.  Then I kept them permanently indoors on large, bright windowsills. They must have liked the conditions as they soon began to grow.

    The Haxnicks Water Saucers meant watering was a fortnightly task so very low maintenance.  I just checked the water reservoir and topped up as needed.  The integrated wicks did their job taking the water and food directly to the plant on demand.

    Pollination

    The next challenge was the lack of pollinators in the house, and generally around this early in the year.  So I stepped in with my soft paint brush and gently dusted the flowers to transfer the pollen.  Then it was a waiting game to see if the pollination had worked.

    Paint brush being used to pollinate broad beans Delicate touch to pollinate the flowers

    Pretty soon the flowers fell away and the swelling of the bean pods could be seen.  As often happens with these experiments we didn't quite get it right.  We didn't pollinate quite as many flowers as we should have done meaning that the crop is a little smaller than expected. Still enough to make a great meal, with more to follow, and we now know that we just need to do a bit more brush work next time.

     

    Young broad beans pods growing on a plant The broad beans starting to grow
    Young broad beans pods on a broad bean plant More broad beans growing

     

     

     

     

     

     

    Broad bean pods on bean plants Broad bean pods almost ready for picking

    In conclusion the experiment was a success and it is possible to have home grown broad beans on your table by May 1st.

    The only thing left now is to make the huge decision between simply drenching them in luscious melted butter or trying something  new like Olive Magazine's Broad Bean and Mint Panzanella with burrata  

    Decisions, decisions!

     

  • Salad anyone?

    We have returned back to a very grey and rainy England with not much hope for our little shoots after slight neglect for a week. However, we were greeted with huge shoots bursting to get out of their Rootrainers!  Seems like time to get the husband out building the Haxnicks Raised Bed with it’s very handy Raised Bed Polythene Cover to keep those courgettes, cucumbers and tomatoes growing upwards and outwards into something edible for my plate.

    Haxnicks Raised Bed with polythene cover on and plants inside I have plants now in my Raised Bed

    Most of all, the joy of this Raised Bed is that you construct and locate it wherever you wish, so for convenience it is sitting right outside our kitchen garden door.  As much as I love my garden who wants to traipse to the end of it to pick their veggies!  We have added a variety of herbs too - why not!

     Haxnicks Raised Bed with polythene cover off and salad plants showing  

    Pull back the polythene cover for easiy watering and as you can see we have a little bed of very healthy young plants which we hope to harvest sometime in July.  We will be back in July with an update!

    Haxnicks Raised Bed with polythene cover off and slightly larger salad plants inside Really growing now - here comes summer!
  • The Potty gardener Growing Beans in Pots

    Haxnicks Garden Products can be brought onlineSince discovering the secret to growing beans in pots I have been impatient to put it to the test. Veg growers might not normally consider growing runner beans in pots, but these are not normal pots and, as you may have noticed, I am not a normal veg grower. I am some way off reaching the giant at the top, but the beans are certainly racing up and I can’t help but mutter fee-fi-fo-fum whilst tending to these lean, mean, fast-growing beans.

    Haxnicks Rootrainers used in Growing Beans early

     

    Growing Beans

    I chose an early variety of Runner bean; Scarlet Emperor which claims on the pack to be ''very popular'' and give ''excellent garden performance''. ...hmmm, I hope that this garden celebrity won't upstage me!I Eager to get an early crop, the beans were sown in Rootrainers 2.5cm, and placed on a warm windowsill to germinate. Once both leaves had unfurled,

    Moving them on...

    I moved them into the Sunbubble. Here in the cosy, moist environment they took only a few weeks to reach potting-on stage.

    Haxnicks Sunbubbles used for Growing Beans

    And this is where the secret of potted bean success comes... in the form of these felty green pots. Vigoroot Pots are porous, allowing the roots to be 'air pruned' as they reach the edges of the pot, and causing a much stronger root system to develop. The plants don't become pot bound and have such super roots they grow well with less space.  This may be the latest conspiracy theory, but I have a sneaking suspicion that when Jack swapped his cow for magic beans and went on to grow a huge beanstalk that his beans weren't magic at all...I think that actually he had discovered growing in Vigoroot!

    Moving on...and up...Once the bean plugs had grown out of their Rootrainers I potted them up in 10Litre Vigoroot pots and gave them a stick each to guide their ascent up the strings that I had tied in at the top of the Sunbubble. They are growing fast and furiously, needing plenty of watering and I am looking forward to the early beans and hopefully a goose who lays golden eggs at the top!

     

  • Self Watering Tower garden

    The Self Watering Tower Garden is self watering. That's right!  Self watering!

    Haxnicks Self Watering Tower Garden water reservoir

    It does what it says on the tin, or would do if it came in a tin.  But why is this important when actually, plants love water and I quite like watering them too?  Don’t know about you, but for me it’s a calming activity during which I contemplate life, the universe and beyond.   This watering zen is the ‘ideal’ though and some weeks the ‘ideal’ is as rare as a blue rose.  The plants will survive my inattention.  The rub is that not only do plants love water but more than this they like regular water.  Otherwise it can have a drastic effect on their output.  Who hasn’t taken their eye off the ball and ended up with split tomatoes?

    Cue the Haxnicks Self Watering Tower Garden . So on those weeks when the cat needs the vet, the kids need new shoes and the fridge definitely needs a clean out the ingenious wick is doing what you can’t and keeping your plants happy and healthy.  No more coming back to dejected looking plants and a guilty conscience. Problem solved.

    Haxnicks Self Watering Tower Garden with Vigoroot pots Self Watering Tower Garden with Vigoroot pots

    My Tower Garden is in its second year and the Vigoroot pots can be washed at the end of the season and stored flat by the organised gardener.  I am not an organised gardener though (must have been one of those weeks) so I had just emptied them and stored in the shed.  A quick brush off left them looking as good as new though and I was able to start planting.

    Not only does it solve your watering issues but it also allows you to grow a staggering amount of plants in a very small area.  My garden is large but with building work about to start most of it is off limits for this season.  The 3 layers allow me to have 12 x 5L pots  in a tiny space.  Each layer has 4 Vigoroot pots which air-prune the roots to give healthier plants with better roots that lead to higher yields.

     

     

    Three Layers:

    Haxnicks Self Watering Tower Garden with strawberries, herbs and tomatoes Fully planted!

    I won't even have to worry about watering when I go away for a week's holiday in summer which is a bonus. All that is left to do now  is to make sure that the water reservoirs are full once a week and then and wait to pick my very first crop.   Might just have to plan a nice bruschetta recipe for all those glorious tomatoes...

  • A poke in the eye with a sharp stick anyone?

    Canetoppers are the perfect solution for the tops of your tomato, bean or sweet-pea canes.  They make your garden just that little bit safer and more attractive.   

    CaneToppers™ are fun, yet very practical, garden accessories from Haxnicks. They come in threHaxnicks CaneTopperse configurations suitable for use with 6mm to 10mm canes, and are available in a choice of  three colours – smart black, stylish olive and playful pink.

    If you have ever poked yourself in the eye with a cane, or had a near miss? Then you will find these a great addition to your garden.  They will also help stop you getting in a tangle if you need to put netting over later in the season.  When the time comes to cover your ripening crops then the Canetoppers will help to stop snagging and make the whole process just that little bit easier.

    CaneToppers™ (1 Cane) act as safety tops for single canes, making an attractive and fun addition to any flower border or vegetable bed. Each pack contains ten CaneToppers™.

    Cane Tepees

    There are two configurations for making cane tepees

    3 bamboo canes with a Haxnicks Canetopper on them and purple flowers

    3 cane - CaneToppers™   - holds three canes gripped tightly by the tough, rubbery plastic, with three toppers per pack.

    8 cane CaneToppers™ - these are slightly larger to hold eight canes firmly in a tepee, with one topper per pack.

    Haxnicks CaneToppers™, priced from £4.99 per pack, are widely available from good garden centres or direct here. 

  • Growing early broad beans, from leggy to luscious

    How to Grow Broad Beans with Vigoroot Pots, Growlite Coir and Water Saucers

    Now I would like to share with you a new and rather different method of growing vegetables and in this case broad beans. I have been experimenting with air-pruning pots, coir growing mediums and self-watering systems for many years, and it gives me great pleasure to see our Haxnicks Vigoroot Pots, Growlite and Water Saucers now on the market and available for anyone to use.

    This very simple demonstration shows how to use these three products to grow some broad beans (an old favourite of mine best eaten smothered in melted butter).

    I sowed the beans in December, which is really much too early for broad beans.  I wanted to see just how early the beans would grow if kept permanently indoors on large, bright windowsills (a bit of an experiment in itself).

    Broad Beans growing in Haxnicks Vigoroot Pots

    The beans were germinated in Haxnicks Growlite. They were then potted on in Growlite which is a coir based growing medium that I have experimented with, developed and perfected over roughly the past 8 years. It has excellent water retention as well as good drainage and although it naturally contains only low levels of nutrients it can hold other added nutrients well and allows easy absorption by plant roots. Growlite includes various organic nutrients including seaweed and will feed a wide variety of plants during the first 8-10 weeks of their life. After this I simply add a little organic plant food on a regular basis to the water I give them.

    Haxnicks Water Saucers making watering a doddle

    We make the Vigoroot pots from recycled polypropylene. The density of the fabric is designed to air-prune the roots of the plants. As the tips of the roots grow into the fabric, their tips die off (air-pruning), which stimulates the plant to grow more roots from its core, and these roots become more fibrous and are able to absorb more nutrients. The result is that the plants don’t get ‘root-bound’ and don’t need to be potted-on into larger pots, but grow larger, faster and healthier, producing more abundant crops. Vigoroot Pots work especially well for fruit trees and fruit bushes as well as flowers, herbs and vegetables.

    Haxnicks Water Saucers showing their wicks

    The kit

    I used the new Haxnicks Water Saucers as a permanent watering and feeding system for the bean plants. Each Water Saucer comes with a capillary wick that is pushed up into the middle of the Vigoroot pot (cut a small hole first), and the plant then draws up the water through the Growlite and capillary wick from the water saucer, which needs topping up every few weeks. After the first two months I started adding a little Maxicrop plant food to the water. Obviously you can choose your plant food to suit the type of plants you are growing.

    Broad Beans growing in Haxnicks Vigoroot Pots

    As I had started growing the plants too early in the season, they didn’t get enough hours of sunlight during the first few months . Subsequently they grew a little too tall and ‘leggy’ as they searched for more light. I decided to cut them back to about half their height.  Within a few days their energy was diverted to producing an abundance of flowers, which hopefully will start to turn into beans before too long.

    Haxnicks Garden Products can be brought online

    This whole system of growing plants using the Vigoroot Pots, Growlite and Water Saucers is remarkably simple to set up and incredibly ‘low-maintenance’. The plants require almost no attention other than a few kind words of encouragement every now and then, and their use of water and plant food is almost 100% efficient - very similar in fact, to a hydroponics set up. So far, the beans are growing beautifully, and look set to produce a great crop later in the season.

    Must put butter on the shopping list...

  • March gone already? Jobs for the Spring

    March is supposed to be spring. ‘In like a lion, out like a lamb’ is one of the sayings about this particular month. Literally meaning that often the beginning of March feels like mid-winter but then it all warms up and becomes very spring like by the end of the month.

    I'm not sure this will relate to March 2018 because as far as I can see we have only had a couple of nice days and three sessions of Beasts from the East! 

    Haxnicks Eiffel Tower Plant Support

    On the sunny days that we did have I think that anybody who has a garden simply had to get outside. Also if we don’t plant our seeds now we won’t have any plants to plant out in May. 

    So what to plant now then? Here is my list to start you off.

    Seeds to sow now indoors: 

    Aubergines, Brussels sprouts, celery, courgettes, cucumbers, fennel, kale, lettuces, melons, nasturtiums, marigolds, peas, rocket and spring onions. 

    Seeds and plants to sow now directly outside:  (if the ground is not too sodden)

    Onions (sets), parsnips, potatoes, spinach, rhubarb (crowns) and strawberry (plants). All these will have an even better chance if you cover them with either fleece or Easy Seedling Tunnel 

    I used these wonderful seedling tunnels in my greenhouse, later on when the seedlings are large enough I plan to transplant them. 

    Haxnicks Seedling tunnels spring planting

    Seed Packets ready for Spring

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    I think that we are all longing for April and better weather, we have had glimpses. I am forever optimistic.  

  • Grandpa Haxnicks’ Brexit Busting Striped Tomato

    If you have the time, energy and the space, breeding your own tomato variety - with the traits and taste that appeal most to you - can be quite easy and fulfilling and the striped tomato is certainly no exception.  It takes little equipment and is immensely satisfying.  

    The difficulty in slicing a tomato evenly to make the perfect cheese and tomato sandwich is something that I have been pondering in my greenhouse for quite a while.  A problem indeed. The tricky hybrid has finally come to fruition with the perfection of my Brexit Busting Haxnicks’ Striped Tomato which is set to revolutionise sandwich production from this day forward.    

    “With Brexit and American trade tariffs looming people will be ditching the fancy brie and cranberry in favour of the traditional British cheese and tomato sandwich. And I am pleased to say they will no longer have to struggle”

    Haxnicks Garden Products can be brought online

    In line with their belief in working with local suppliers the new tomatoes launched in the Co-op Store in  Mere, Wiltshire today, April 1st. Andrew Tuck, Store Manager said “customers absolutely love them, its solved a problem they never really knew they had and we sold out within hours of them arriving in store”

    4 striped tomatos on a plate

    There are three common ways to There are three common ways to create your own tomato variety,, and each can be done by the home gardener with time and patience.  The one I chose was cross-pollination to create Grandpa Haxnicks’ Brexit Busting Striped tomato. Normally I would select my tomatoes grown from F2 seed in terms of attributes such as taste and colour, but this time it was all about the stripes for me and solving the major problem facing the British public.

    I am currently working on a chequered tomato for easy Bruschetta production which will hopefully be ready by 1st April 2019.

  • BootClamp: end of muddy, rain filled boots

    You're going to want one (or more) of these BootClamps!  My pet hate, dirty, muddy Dorset Wellington boots in the house, if only there was some way of keeping them outside without half the rainfall of North Dorset flooding my precious Wellies.  Then I discovered the amazing BootClamp from Haxnicks.  BootClamps are such an obvious but genius invention, my Wellies now take prime position in the porch or just lying around the driveway and not a speck of water or creepy crawly inside.  Of course, if you are more organised just hang them up with the carry handle, BootClamps are very clever indeed!

    Thanks for the the Blog post Fran - really glad you love the product! Haxnicks

    3 Haxnicks BootClamps lined up on doorstep - Stopping the rain coming in

  • 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 and 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

    After weeks of busying myself with other tasks and basically avoiding it I have resigned myself to the fact that I will 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 and 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 and 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 but, 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 to the Leaf Picker.

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