Love to Grow

  • Product Bites: Haxnicks Potato Planters

    What are Potato Planters:

    Potato Planters are the super easy way to grow potatoes.  A pack of 3 large planters with good drainage that make it easy to grow this kitchen staple.

    What crop are they for:

    Any type of potatoes from little salad ones to large baking types.  They take 40 Litres of compost and come in a pack of 3.  Each one will take 3 to 4 seed potatoes.

    Where can I use them:

    Use anywhere in the garden, patio, balcony or terrace.  They are 35cm in daimeter so you only need a tiny space to get growing.

    What's so special about it?

    Pink_potato_flower Potato flower

    They take all the hard work out of growing potatoes.  There is no digging to prepare the bed.  Simply fill them a third full to start and plant your seed potatoes.  Then as the plants emerge just cover them up again with compost. Repeat until the planter is full.  This is much easier to achieve in planters than in the ground where you have to dig large trenches.

    The other big advantage is at harvest time.  To harvest, spread out a large plastic sheet and tip the planter over onto it.  Search through the compost and you will find your lovely crop.   Much easier than having to dig the plants up and hunt for the crop.

    Find out more: 

    See it in action: To see it in action head over to our YouTube channel Potato Planters

    Related Blogs:  Read about it in use Grow at Home: Potatoes

    Buy it Now:  See them here Potato Planters


  • Grow at Home: 5 MORE veg that you can grow in pots

    If you liked the last blog 5 Veg that you can grow in a Pot or Planter then here is the second installment.  More suggestions for veg you can grow at home even if you don't have a garden.

    Garden Suppliers & Covid 19

    A note first about all those out there in the garden industry.  Garden Centres have been ordered to close and both they and the nurseries that supply them are suffering as a result.  Many are small, family run businesses and are having to think on the hoof and learn new tricks to save their businesses.

    So if you need supplies then do call your local centre.  Some are taking phone orders, many are delivering.   Some are even doing drive throughs with booked pick up times. So if you need stuff you can't get online like compost then try your local centre.  This blog covers growing from seed but there will also be veg plug plants out there in garden centres that will be wasted if not sold.   These will work just as well.

    On to those 5 veg....

    1) Spring Onions

    spring_onion_cutSpring Onions can be used in salads, sandwiches or stir fries so they are a useful crop to grow.  They don't have massively long roots so can be grown in a shallow or medium planter like the Oxford Planter. You can double up with a different crop.  For example, if you read last weeks blog (link above) then your spring onions could share a planter with your Cut and Come Again Leaves.

    Whatever pot you choose, just fill with compost to within about 1" (3 cm) of the top.  Then lightly scatter the seed over the surface and cover with 0.5" (1.5cm) of compost. Water gently to keep the soil moist and you'll soon see the plants emerge.  If plants look crowded then thin out a little and use the thininngs in salads or sandwiches.

    2) Beetroot

    4 beetroot_in_a_bunch_on_benchBeetroot is grown for the roots although you can eat the leaves - use them where you would use spinach.

    You need a 5 Litre pot for beetroot.  Take care when buying your seeds,  Choose a baby beet variety - smaller and bolt resistant for growing in a pot.  Larger varieties may become restricted by the pot and become woody as a result.  Beetroot seeds are actually clusters of 4 or 5 individual seeds so plant a single seed in your pot.  You will get a number plants.

    Sowing 2 weeks apart will give you a steady harvest of tender, golf ball size beet throughout the summer.  For full instructions on how to grow it see this blog Grow at Home: Beetroot

    3) Swiss chard

    Swiss chard is from the same plant family as beetroot.  But it is grown for the leaves. And what leaves they are!  With stems in jewel like colours these are sure to wow you when they start to grow.

    Chard is a very productive crop as it will produce new leaves when cut so one or two plants will provide nutritious leaves for a full season.  As it doesn't have deep roots this is another one for a shallow planter or an Instant Raised Bed

    Make a shallow drill in your planter around 0.5" (1.5cm) deep.  Sow seeds into it and cover lightly with soil.  Water well.  As seedlings start to emerge thin and use thinings in salads.  You should be able to start eating in around 10 weeks.


    4) Tomatoes

    The easiest type of tomato for a pot is a bush variety as these are small compact plants that need less support. These willl grow happily in a Tomato Patio Planter.  If you prefer to grow climbing varieties then these will need more support. A Tomato (Climbing) Patio Planter or Tomato Crop Booster Frame would both be ideal.

    Whichever sort you choose, tomatoes are easy to grow and well suited to pots providing they are fed.  So make sure you order tomato food from your garden centre when you order your planters, compost and seeds.

    For full details of how to grow tomatoes see this recent blog Grow at Home: Tomatoes

    5) Baby Carrots.


    Your pot needs to be quite deep for carrots.  The best varieties for pots are round, white or French carrots.  The French wil be the sweetest, the round the 'carrotiest' tasting and the white will actually grow about 5" (12cm).  A Deep Oxford planter would work well or a Raised Bed if you have the space.

    Carrots grown in the ground are often wonky as they have to negotiate stones and other obstacles in the soil.  The advantage of growing in pots is that you should get lovely straight carrots.

    For full instructions on growing carrots Grow at Home: Carrots


    I hope that this has inspired you to get growing.  Please comment if there are any crops you want more info on and follow us on Socail Media for further info.  Thanks for reading!

  • Product Bites: Vegetable Sacks for storing your root veg

    What is/are Vegetable Sacks:

    storing_vegetables_potatoes_in_jute_sackVegetable Sacks are veg storage bags made from 100% biodegradable vegetable fibres.  They are indispensable to keep home grown veg in peak condition until you are ready to eat it.

    The tough, woven fabric makes the best possible storage material for root vegetables.  It allows air to circulate so condensation doesn't build up inside. Vegetables are kept cool, dark and dry.

    What crop are they for:

    Ideal for all root vegetables - especially potatoes, carrots, parsnips, turnips, swedes and beetroot. You can also store onions (in a separate bag to the other veg)

    Where can I use them:

    Keep them in a cupboard or hang the bags somewhere cool dark and dry if possible to allow air to circulate.  The shed or garage would be perfect provided it is relatively pest free.  Check every now and then to make sure that there are no issues.  Remove and use any veg that are not looking their best straight away.

    What's so special about it?

    The natural fabric allows air to circulate meaning that the crop isn't ruined by condensation.  They are also reusable year after year and compostable once you have eventually finished with them.

    Find out more: 

    Related Blogs:  Read about it in use Grow at Home Shallots

    Buy it Now:  See the full range here Vegetable Sacks

    See more: Haxnicks has a great YouTube Channel where you can pick up all sort of tips and tricks and see the prodcuts in action.  Check it out here YouTube




  • Product Bites: Easy Seedling Tunnel

    What are Easy Seedling Tunnels:

    Putting out a Haxnicks easy Seedling Tunnel.Easy Seedling Tunnels are mini growing tunnels for starting off seeds which;

    • Provide a cosy moist microclimate for germination and rapid seedling growth
    • Lock in moisture
    • Protect from harsh weather and pests
    • Warm the soil ready for sowing

    Easy Seedling Tunnels come in a pack of 3 and are made from tough U.V. stabilised polythene and galvanised steel hoops.  They are an inexpensive way to maximise sowing success. Seeds are far more likely to germinate and grow healthily in a warm, moist  environment protected from birds, and other pests.

    For those without a greenhouse or a spare windowsill to propagate seeds, the garden soil can be warmed using the tunnels.  This enables earlier sowing giving a longer growing season.

    What crop are they for:

    They are one of the most versatile bits of kit in the garden and can be used for virtually any seedlings.   So everythinng from your veg seeds to your border plants will thrive in the Easy Seedling tunnels.

    Where can I use them:

    They are suitable to use all over the garden.  Simply push into the soil where required.

    What's so special about it?

    One of the advantages of these particular tunnels is that they do not need ground pegs.  As with all Haxnicks tunnels, peg the steel hoops straight into the ground to keep the tunnel firmly in place.

    Another major advantage is that after use the tunnels fold up neatly for storage.  It you keep the original packaging then you can just fold them flat and hang on a nail in the shed until they are needed again next season. Then they can be reused again and again.

    Find out more: 

    See it in action: To see it in action head over to our YouTube channel Easy Tunnels

    Related Blogs:  Read about it in use Grow at Home: Winter Salad

    Buy it Now:  See them here Easy Seedling Tunnels


  • Grow at Home: 5 veg that you can easily grow in a Pot or Planter

    Veg in a Pot or Planter

    Its easy to gorw veg in a pot or planter but some veg are more suitable than others.  If you are new to gardening then the list below should contain the basics.  It will get you started but the key to growing veg is that if you don't like it then don't grow it!  You will be eating everything from your garden and we don't want that to be torture.  So feel free to skip any of these suggestions that you don't like...

    Home Schooling

    Growing veg is a perfect opportunity to enrich your Home Schooling Schedule.

    When some children answer the question "where do chips come from" with the answer "Sainsbury's" the time is right to act.  Growing your own veg show them what happens when Sainsbury's don't deliver any more.

    so the gardening ticks the science box but you can also

    • write out growing instructions or a poem about your plant (English)
    • draw pictures of the plants you are growing (Art)
    • Estimate and measure the growing plant (Maths)

    Soil v Compost

    If your soil is good and full of nutrients then you could fill your planters with this.  However, a safer bet is to use good multipurpose compost.

    Many Garden Centres are still delivering even though they have been forced to close at the moment by Lockdown.  (How strange it will be to re-read this blog in a few years time!)  Anyway, most Garden Centres are taking orders over the phone and delivering compost, slow release fertiliser and seeds.

    So - the first 5 veggies ( 5 more to come next week!)

    1) Cut and come again leaves

    container_grown_rocket_growingThese do exactly what the name suggests.  Rather than waiting for a whole head of lettuce to grow these leaves can be harvested and eaten as soon as they get to the size you want.  Rocket is one of the most common of these but the seeds are often sold as "Salad Leaves" .  They may  include plants such as Japanese Greens, Arugula, Rucola, Oriental Mustard, Pak Choy, Borecole.  They grow fast so you wil lbe eating them in around 3 weeks.

    These will grow in whatever pot you have.  From a 6" Plant pot on your window cill to a Shallow Oxford Planter.  The plants don't have deep roots so no need to waste compost filling a deep planter.

    Once you have chosen your planter fill it with compost and sow seeds according to the packet instuction.  You may want to sow them every week to ten days to keep a regular supply up.  You can get three or more harvests from each sowing as they will regrow once cut.

    2) Lettuce

    Lettuce does not need much room so great for container growing.  Perfect for a window cill.

    Like cut and come again, lettuce don't have deep roots so a shallow planter  - about 6" (15cm) - will work well.  Make sure it has good drainage.

    Sow your lettuce seeds onto the surface of your compost and cover with a fine layer of compost as the seeds need light to germinate.   If you want to grow a whole head of lettuce then sow and thin to the spacings recommended on the packet.  If you want to eat as cut and come again then you can simply scatter over the surface.

    3) Radishes

    container_grown_baby_radish_in_ladies_handThese are a love them or hate them thing.  But I will say that freshly picked homegrown radishes are much tastier and crunchier than shop bought ones.

    They can be planted from January to September so its hardly ever the wrong time to plant radishes.  They take approx 4 weeks for sowing seed to harvest so its a great one for anyone impatient.

    Again your contianer needs to be around 4" to 6" (10cm to 15cm) deep and have good drainage. As a guide a planter with a diameter of 16" will be Ok for around 5 radishes.  Plant them around 1" ro 2" (2 to 4cm) apart according to the packet instructions.

    4) Peas & Beans

    Pea and bean container planterPeas and beans work very well in pots and planters.  There are two types of beans - climbers like Runner Beans and smaller bush varieties like Dwarf French Beans.  If you are growing a climber then you will need a pot large enough to take a plant support such as a wigwam made from bamboos canes.

    The planter you use has to be bigger than for the salad leaves.  If you are really short of space then a 5L Vigoroot pot with a Water Saucer will allow you to grow a runner bean in a 5L pot.  If you have a little more space then the Pea and Bean Planter holds 6 bean plants in the space of little bigger than a tea tray.  It has pockets to slot your canes into so makes it easy to support them.  This planter allows those with just a balcony or very little outside space to enjoy a summer's worth of home grown beans.

    If you want to Dwarf Beans then a  Medium Oxford planter will work

    For full instructions on how to grow beans check out this blog: Grow at home: Green Beans

    Whichever you grow, peas and beans will stay productive longer if harvested vigourously, the more you pick the more you get!

    5) Potatoes

    potato_container_plantersYou will be surprised how easy these are to grow and how gorgeous the flowers are!  These need a big pot or planter - around 40L .  Potato planters are inexpensive and can be used year after year.  However, if you can't get hold of any, potatoes can be grown in an old compost sack provided you ensure that they have enough drainage.

    The good news is that growing potatoes in a planter is far less back breaking than growing in the ground.  There is no digging to prepare the bed - simply fill the Potato Planter with compost.  And when you come to harvesting just tip it over and collect your potatoes.

    For full instructions on growing potatoes check out this blog Grow at Home: Potatoes

    That's all for this week but we will be showing you 5 more easy to grow veg next week.  If you do decide to grow some veg then we would love to see your progress os please share with us on Soical Media.


  • Product Bites: 5" & 6" biodegradable Bamboo Pots

    What are Bamboo Pots :


    Bamboo Pots are ordinary pots made out of an extraordinary material. They are made from sustainable bamboo fibre, rice starch and resin made from naturally occurring organic compounds. This material is free from petroleum-based plastics and BPA.

    They last 3 to 5 years and are biodegradable.  So, after use you can dispose of them on their home compost heap.  Composting may take 6-12 months. Breaking the products into small pieces before adding them to your compost heap will help speed up this process.

    They are part of a rangle including 3", 4", 8" pots and saucers as well as Plant markers and a Plant Scoop.


    What crop are they for:

    The 5" and 6" can be used wherever you would have previously used a plastic pot.  So, they are suitable potting on or starting off many veg plants.  They are also perfect for small house plants.  And ideal for herbs such as mint so you can have it available there on the kitchen window cill ready for use in cooking.

    Where can I use them:

    They are designed for both indoor and outdoor use.  These soft colours and the finish on pots will look just as good with herbs on a kitchen windowsill as in the greenhouse.

    What's so special about it?

    BAMBOO_POTS_+SAGE_GREEN_CLOSEuP_MANS HANDBamboos are some of the fastest-growing plants in the world.  Some species can grow 91cm in a 24-hour period, a rate of almost 4 cm an hour.  This makes the core material truly sustainable.

    It’s estimated that 500 million plastic plant pots are sold every year. The majority are sent to landfill or are incinerated – very little is recycled and there are few facilities to do so. A large amount of fossil fuel is used in the production of plastic pots, and they take around 500 years to decompose.

    Find out more: 

    See it in action: To see it in action head over to our YouTube channel Bamboo Range

    Related Blogs:  Read about it in use Grow at Home: Avocados

    Buy it Now:  See the full range here Bamboo & Sustainable Gardening


  • Product Bites: Soft tie - the original and best plant tie

    What is Soft Tie :

    Soft_Tie_tying_cane_tipeetipeeSoft Tie is a reusable, soft, strong plant tie for a multitude of garden uses.  It comes in two widths; Original and Slim.

    Original - designed for use with the thinner, more delicate stems of climbing annuals, young vegetables and shrubs, tall perennials and houseplants

    Slim Soft Tie - superior cushioning and strength and is the perfect choice for tying up plants that are heavily-laden with growing crops, or for tying up the thicker stems of trees, shrubs, roses, large climbers and fruit bushes.

    What crop is it for:

    It can be used for everything from fruit and veg to flowers and trees.

    Supporting young trees:  the ideal size to support branches it cushions rather than strangles.

    Supporting fruiting trees : particularly useful for heavily laden branches it has the strength to hold the weight, and the gentleness to not cut into the bark.

    Training the new growth of climbers and ramblers from Roses to Runner Beans : Starting with a small loop that encircles the shoot, but does not constrict it in any way, the ends can be firmly tied around the frame or support. The tie will now be immoveable, but the shoot will be able to grow through the loop without being impeded.

    Tall plants : Delphiniums, Gladioli,  Sunflowers, Hollyhocks and Foxgloves need to be able to bend with the wind, but when tied to canes they can chop themselves off at the tying point. Soft-Tie’s hard wire core allows it to be bent into a ring that is large enough to let the plant wave about in the wind, but the soft sleeve stops the wire bruising or cutting the stem.

    Where can I use it:

    It can be used in all manner of ways, not just to support plants. Keeping electric cables tidy, hanging pots, tying canes, emergency bicycle clips, temporarily securing drain pipes.  The list is endless!

    Soft-Tie™ is easy to secure with a simple twist.  No knot knowledge required! And can be cut with a sturdy pair of scissors.

    What's so special about it?

    Woody_Soft_Tie_around_plantSoft-Tie™ can do any job that garden twine or string can but with greater strength, more gently and it can be used again and again. Unlike copy-cat versions Haxnicks Soft-Tie™ is made from superior quality materials which last longer and perform better. The steel wire is galvanised so it won’t rust and it is thicker than competitor versions making it stronger. The rubber coating is UV stabilised.  It is also made to a specific formula which makes it just the right squidgyness !

    Find out more: 

    See it in action: To see it in action head over to our YouTube channel here for an amusing video sure to inspire! Soft Tie

    Related Blogs:  Read about it in use Introducing Soft Tie

    Buy it Now:  


    For thinner, more delicate stems of climbing annuals, young vegetables and shrubs,.  Also for tall perennials and houseplants.   Original Soft tie or Woody Original Soft Tie

    Slim Soft Tie

    Stronger for heavily-laden plants with growing crops.  Or for tying thicker stems of trees, shrubs, roses, large climbers and fruit bushes.   Slim Soft tie or Woody Slim Soft Tie


  • Product Bites: Tomato Crop Booster

    What is the Tomato Crop Booster:

    Haxnicks_Tomato_crop_booster_frame_with_cover_on_patioThe Tomato Crop Booster is a frame specifically designed for supporting tomato plants.  Properly supported plants put more of their energy into growing fruit and as a result give bigger yields.


    Tomatoes thrive in a warm atmosphere so a poly cover can be bought separately to turn your Tomato Crop Booster into a mini greenhouse. The cover unzips to allow easy access to the plants and has vents at the side to provide ventilation on  warmer days or you can remove it completely.

    What crop is it for:

    Tomatoes of any description but most useful for the Indeterminate or Cordon varieties that can get very heavy and need more support.

    Tomatoes are great to grow now because they are such productive plants that can really help to feed the family. Especially if you only have a small amount of space like a balcony or patio.

    Growing anything is also a great lockdown boredom buster and a fun thing to do with children uder the guise of homeschooling!

    Indeterminate or Cordon varieties

    This is your typical, tall tomato plant.  They have a single long stem and usually grow up canes or twine up to 6' (1.8m) in height.  Cordon varieties produce side shoots which need to be removed, as they appear.  If they aren't removed they will grow into large lateral branches leaving a tangled plant with a lower yield of ripe fruit.

    Where can I use it:

    You can use the Crop Booster either in your garden or allotment or on a patio or balcony.

    What's so special about it?

    Tomato_Crop_Booster_clips_and_bars_close_upThe key to this frame is the way it supports the branches with easily moveable bars.  The bars are attached with easy to move clips.  So, as the plant grows you can simply unclip and reclip to move the supporting bars without having to fiddle round with bits of string.  The branches also rest gently on the bars.  So there is no chance of them getting restricted by ties and getting damaged as a result.  This is helpful in avoiding disease too.  Scrapes and cuts caused by constricting ties can leave wounds where disease can get into the plant.

    Find out more: 

    See it in action: To see it in action head over to our YouTube channel here Tomato Crop Booster Video

    Related Blogs:  Read about it in use Grow at Home tomatoes

    Buy it Now:  

    Tomato Crop Booster Frame

    Tomato Crop Booster Cover

  • Grow at Home: Sunflowers


    Wouldn't it be lovely if the result of this unwelcome super virus was that every garden, allotment and balcony became home to a host of sunflowers.  The bees and other insects would be overjoyed.  The birds would have a feast to see them through winter.  And parents would have a source of inspiration for homeschooling sorted - more of that later.

    If you don't have a garden, don't worry. Sunflowers can be grown in pots if you have a nice bright and sunny space to put them in.


    What sort of Sunflowers to Grow

    Sunflowers can be single stem or branching. It will say on the packet which sort they are so choose carefully depending on what you want to achieve.


    These only grow one flower from one seed - so probably the sort you want if you are going for "Tallest Sunflower" Because they only have one flower you will need to plant seeds every 7 to 10 days to keep flowers in your garden all summer.

    Branching sunflowers

    These produce many flowers over the season.  And these generally have the less traditional colours like oranges and chocolate tones.

    Win, win, win!

    Whatever type you choose post your progress on Social Media with the tag #SunflowerChallenge - there is a prize for the tallest sunflower and the ones the judge liked the most.  The competitoin is the brain child of Andrew Bentley @GardeningGent who kindly allowed us to join in and offer a prize.  So take a picture of you with your flower and you can still take part even if yours isn't giving Jack and his Beanstalk a run for their money.

    How to grow Sunflowers

    Whichever sort you choose, you can sow them either in pots or straight into the ground where they are going to flower.

    sunflower_in_meadow_closeupSowing in the Ground

    If you are sowing into the ground then make sure the area is weed free.

    Once you have pulled up all of the weeds rake the soil and make some drills (shallow trenches)  1/2" (12mm) deep.

    Carefully place 2 seeds an inch or so apart into the drill every 17" (45cm) or so.  Cover the seeds with soil. Water gently.

    Keep watering daily if there isn't rain and your seeds should take 7 to 10 days to appear.  Some seeds will grow stronger than others.  So take out the weaker of the two seedlings and either discard or plant elsewhere.

    Growing in a pot

    The pots you choose can be anywhere between 12" like the Vigoroot 20L pot to 14" like the Potato/ tomato Planter or for even better root growth try the Vigoroot Potaot/ Tomato PlanterMake sure whatever you use has good drainage holes or the seeds will rot.

    Fill your pot with compost.  Plant 2 seeds near the middle of the pot, pushing them into the soil about 1" (2.5 cm).  Add a thin layer of compost over the seed and water gently.

    Continue to water daily and your seeds should appear in 7 to 10 days.  Once they do, take out the weakest one and either discard or transplant elsewhere.

    For Both Pot and Ground grown

    Sunflowers need to be watered well or they will become spindly.  So water every day to ensure that your sunflower never gets dry.

    Slugs and snails adore young sunflower plants so they need protection.  For pot grown ones a line of copper tape round the pot may help to deter invaders.  A beer trap such as the Slug Buster is ideal for both.  You could also use a Victorian Bell cloche to protect the seedlings.  If you can't get hold of those then cutting the top off a plastic bottle and placing it over your seedlings will work too.

    As your sunflower begins to grow you will need to support the stem.  Place a bamboo cane next to the stem and secutre it with Soft tie.  This will ensure that the stem is not damaged as it blows about.


    Sunflowers don't necessarily need feeding to grow but they will take everything there is from your soil so it may be worth feeding them. Its maybe more important for those in pots.  If you descide to feed then before they flower, use a high-nitrogen liquid plant food, then move to one with more phosphorus when they begin to flower.

    Watch your monster sunflower grow and grow and grow.  If you are lucky it will grow biggger than the biggest ever sunflower.  That was recorded at 30 feet (9.17m.) That's about twice the height of a giraffe and taller than the length of a London bus!

    Home Schooling Ideas

    I said I woud come back to this so for those of you home schooling at the moment these are the boxes you can tick with a simple sunflower.


    Gardening is science so that box is ticked right away.  For oolder children read about photosynthasis and how this works, measure the pH of the soil (if you happen to have a kit at home.)   For younger childre name the parts of the plant - stem, petals etc.


    Estimate the height of the flower then measure each week, if you are growing more than one make little tags and use them to order the flowers from tallest to smallest


    Write instructions for someone to grow their own, write a story or poem about a sunflower,


    Draw your sunflower, paint pictures of them (somone once got very famous doing that!) Make a sunflower out of the junk in your recycling box. Even knit a sunflower if you know how...


    Top Tip: Seeds can be bought online or many Garden Centres are still delivering.  Give your local one a call to see how they are doing things. 

  • Grow at home: How to make your gardening into more of a workout

    the workout has been thrown into disarray by gyms closing and people being forced to stay home.  All is well in the garden though.  Whether it is the supermarkets queues or skies clearing to a cerulean blue, people seem to be relishing the idea of spending time in the garden.

    The National Gardens Scheme in 2016 report found that half of the adult population in England report being involved in gardening, and consider it an important activity throughout their lives. And the enforced leisure time we are all having at the moment only widens the garden's appeal as a place of sanctuary.

    But how can we make even better use of it?  Maybe by turning it into our own gym...

    Gardening as Exercise

    man_in_red_digging_gardenGardening is deemed to be a "moderate to strenuous workout" up there with walking and cycling.  So excellent news for those of you who already garden.  Also brilliant news for any gym-bunnies that are suffering because they are shut.  You can easily burn the same number of calories gardening as you would at the gym. Digging, raking, and mowing are at the best activities (my Activity Tracker is convinced that my mower is a static bike!).  The secret is that gardening covers all 4 sorts of exercise: endurance, strength, balance, and flexibility meaning its an all round work out


    Losing Weight

    Gardening can help you lose weight burning off about 300 calories an hour. One study found that women community gardeners weighed on average 11 pounds less than non-gardeners, and men weighed 16 pounds less. While you will certainly burn calories doing it there are other factors at play.

    Fresh air

    All the stress relieving and mental health benefits of a walk in the countryside with an added sense of achievement at having grown something successfully.  Fresh air can make us feel healthier resulting in healthier eating habits supported by the fresh veggies produced.  Who wants oven chips when you could have glistening new potatoes freshly pulled from your own plot?

    Being outside will also increase your vitamin D intake. Not only is this vitamin important to every single organ in your body but it is also a mood booster.  Which may go some way to explain why gardening is good for our mental health.

    choc_chip_cookies_in_biscuit_tinAway from the biscuit tin

    So much over eating is in response to boredom rather than hunger.  Even if you haven't stockpiled biscuits they are probably now within reach where they wouldn't have been before.  Being out in the garden takes you away from temptation and gives you something else to do with idle hands.

    A better larder

    Growing your own vegetables, fruits, or herbs, gives them more focus in your kitchen.  So instead of I've got some meat what veg shall I have with it.  Its 'the beans will be ready early next week what recipes can i use for them.


    Making your Gardening into a Workout

    The first thing to say on this  subject is gardening can cause injury.  Doing it the wrong way, or over doing it when you haven't gardened for a while (or ever!) can lead to very sore muscles and a bad back which no one wants.

    We've all been there and overdone it at the start of the season but it should be avoided if possible.  There are subtle ways to make your gardening more effective fitness wise though.

    woman_yoga_stretch_in_gardenWarm Up

    You wouldn't do a 5K run without warming up your muscles so some gentle stretching is the very least you need to do - particularly before the more strenuous tasks like digging.

    Stretch for it!

    When you are undertaking activities like hoeing you want to increase the sweep or arc from your starting position to your ending position.  So rather than short jerky movements you need long fluid movements with a slight stretch so you can feel it in your muscles. Think Tai Chi with a trowel.

    Lunge and weed

    man_doing_lunges_with_speedhoeThis one transfers straight from the weights section of the gym. Think a forward lunge usually done with a dumbbell in each hand.  To transfer this to the garden, take your weeding tool -  a long handed one like the SpeedHoe Precision - and rest your left arm on your left knee when weeding with your right hand. Reverse if you are left handed.   You may feel a bit of a twit at first and get some funny looks if you do this at the allotment (at a 2m distance from anyone else)  but much better than being in a sweaty gym.


    Use the right muscles

    If you use the right muscles then it not only be kinder to your back but will also burn more calories.  The muscles of the arms and lower back are weaker.  So, try to use the larger muscles in your legs, buttocks and the core strength of your torso to do the bulk of the work. Particularly important when lifting things like compost bags.  Bend those knees.

    Repeat, repeat, repeat!

    Try and group your activity into sets.  So dig 5 spade fulls then rest for one minute then repeat.  Hoe 10 sweeps and then move weed so the compost heap for one minute, repeat  This will not only improve your fitness but it will chop up tedious tasks into more manageable chunks.  Plus it will give you short term goals to think about rather than being daunted by having to dig a whole bed.

    Gardening together

    From delaying dementia to improving concentration in all areas of your life, gardening has much to offer out mental well-being.

    daisies_on_wood_in_heart_shapeIf you can garden as a family then it can create a shared interest and bonding experience like no other.  But there is room for differences too - one person may enjoy flowers, one may be obsessed with getting the lawn like a bowling green, and another may be interested in the wildlife that can be attracted to the garden. They can all be in the same place with their separate goals and enjoy it together.

    Even if you are in self isolation the internet is awash with groups where you can share your achievements.  Just type #allotment or #gardening into Instagram and you will come up with a whole tribe of people who will ooh and ahh as your first seed pokes its head out of the soil.  Its a way to stay connected and share the experience. They will also offer you advice to get you started too - though don't expect them to always agree with each other!

    sausages_on_BBQThe final advantage at the moment is that the garden also gives you another room.  The house can become very small when the whole family is home the whole time!  So move the home schooling outside.  Read, paint and interact with nature and have a lunch time BBQ to make it feel like a holiday. What is nicer than eating in the open, listening to the birds as you sip a glass of something chilled?

    Treat yourself to 30 minutes workout in the garden a day if you can manage it.  And you can forget about the gym membership...


    Don't forget Haxnicks has a great YouTube channel too.  So if you are stuck in doors take the time to watch a few videos.  Be fully prepared for when you find yourself back on the plot. Check it out here 

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