allotment

  • Product Bite: Vigoroot Potato/Tomato Planters

    What are Vigoroot Potato/Tomato Planters:

    Vigoroot_potato/Tomato_planterVigoroot Potato/ Tomato Planters are air-pruning planters that offer a super easy way to grow bigger plants such as potatoes and tomatoes.

    What crop are they for:

    They are mainly used for potatoes and tomatoes but could any root veg  such as carrots or parsnips where the added depth will allow them to thrive.  You could even grow fruit trees such as damsons in them.

    They take 40 Litres of compost and will take 3 seed potatoes or two large tomato plants.

    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

    The Vigoroot fabric is what makes them special.  The magic of this fabric comes from its ability to ‘air-prune’ the roots of plants, dramatically changing their formation and their ability to sustain the plant in a limited volume of compost. It encourages more vigorous rooting, which enables the plants to absorb more nutrients. It prevents the roots from growing too long, and helps prevent plants from becoming ‘pot-bound’ which would normally limit the plants’ growth. This means that the plants can grow to a much larger size in a relatively small pot.

    The super strong root system also helps the plants to become more resistant to harsh weather, pests and diseases. Used for many years by commercial growers, the benefits of air-pruning technology are well recognised by the trade.

    They also take all the hard work out of growing potatoes.  There is no digging to prepare the bed and come harvest time you simply tip the planter over and pull out the potatoes. 

    Find out more: 

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

    Related Blogs:  Read about it in use Grow at Home: Damsons or Grow at Home: Broad Beans

    Buy it Now:  See them here Vigoroot Potato/Tomato Planters

     

  • What things grow in Winter? How to keep kids gardening all year

    So you have taken advantage of Lockdown to grow things as a family.  Your kids have been watching their sunflowers tower above them and stealing cherry tomatoes and cucamelons from the vine but what things grow in winter?  

    Winter is actually a great time to get kids involved.  They will just need a little more patience as some of what you will be planting will be for Spring.  There are plenty of little jobs to keep them going though.

    Garden Jobs

    growing_in_winter_boy_with_watering_can_watering_plantsBelow you will see lots of things that you can plant over winter.  The list is not exhaustive but it should be enough to keep the patch producing.  But added to this there are other tasks that have to carry on.

    Weeding

    Your overwintering veg needs to contend with the weather.  It shouldn't have to compete with weeds too though.  So it is good to get your little one to regularly weed their bit of the patch so the nasty weed don't take over.  Caution: you may need to help them understand what is weed so that all your spring onions aren't accidentally weeded out!

    Watering

    Even though it can be wet there may be times that you need to water too.  Especially when you are growing in containers.  Get them their own mini watering can and your little one can help with this.

    Planning

    If the weather is bad and you really can't get out then planning your planting is a great way to keep kids involved.  They can look over seed catalogues and pick out what they would like to grow then make drawings or collages of the plot and how it will look.  Maybe imagine how a little raised bed all of their own will be planted.

    Build a Bug Hotel

    Bugs are always fascinating so use twigs and things from around the garden to make your own little bug hotel.  Hours of fun, counting bugs and identifying which bugs have made their home there.

    Look after the Wildlife

    Wildlife is part of the garden's ecosystem so look after the birds by giving them food and water over the winter.  And they will return to eat the caterpillars from your plants in the Spring and Summer.  You could even put up bird boxes and make a hedgehog house if you have the time and space.

    Veg that Grow in Winter

    Swiss_chard_growing_in_winterSo on to what you can plant....

    Swiss chard

    Swiss chard is a fabulous colourful veg and now is the perfect time to plant it. It is a cool season crop so put in plug plants now and then plant the seeds 2 to 3 weeks before the last spring frost date.  It is ideal for containers too so you can plant it right outside the kitchen door.  Harvest it as a “cut-and-come-again” crop and use it as you would spinach.

    Onions & Garlic

    Plant over-winter onion and garlic bulbs which will be ready to harvest next year. Find out how here Grow at Home: onions from Sets and Grow at Home; Garlic

    Chilies & Peppers

    January is a great time to start to grow chilli plants on a warm windowsill.  Check out how to grow them here.  Grow at Home: chilli Peppers and once they are started in about February you can start off your pepper plants. Grow at home: Sweet Bell Peppers/ Capsicum

    Mushrooms

    What could be more fun than growing Mushrooms?  Do these at any time over the winter - just find a spot where they aren't going to dry out and you are away.  There are several ways to grow them which are all covered in this blog so take a look if you fancy your own mushroom farm Grow at Home: Mushrooms.

    Microgreens

    This is another indoor growing activity that could get your kids trying all sorts of veg (without knowing it!) You can grow most veg such as beetroot, peas, rocket, cress, broccoli, chard, cauliflower, cabbage.  You just eat them when they are very young sprinkled on sandwiches, pasta, soup etc.  It is a great one to balance all the waiting for things to sprout in Spring as they are ready to eat in a few weeks.

    Top Tip: microgreens seeds come in packs of 100s of seeds as you need quite a few of them.  They cost about the same as regular seed packets though so are much cheaper 'per seed'.  They are the same seeds you would get in the regular packets though so keep a few to fill your veg garden next year.

    You can read about it here Grow at Home: nutritious Microgreens or see the mats in action over on our YouTube Channel Microgreens Growing Mats 

     

    Flowers

    Spring_crocus_growing_in_winter_gardenFlowers are important in your garden as they attract pollinators which you need for veg growing.  Certain types can also ideal as Companion Planting to deter pests form eating your crops.   And of course they look pretty.

    Bulbs

    For Spring colour now is the time to plant flower bulbs - crocus, snowdrop, daffodil and tulip are all easy for children to plant. They can also be grown in pots if you don't have space.  Just show them which way up they go and you are away.  To keep things moving set up a production line with one person digging the hole and the next planting the bulb.  Then swap when they (and you!) inevitably get bored.

    Seeds

    This is one for right now and the kids will love it.  Get them to collect seeds from - Sweet Peas, Sunflowers, Love in the Mist, Poppies, Calendula or Lupin.  Dry them out and label them so that you can sow them when Spring comes.  If you aren't growing any of these then ask neighbours if you could collect any they aren't using.  The advantage of this is that if they are growing well in your neighbours gardens then they will likely grow well in yours as you'll have similar soil.  You can also look out along the road side.  You may find the odd poppy or other flower that has sprouted where it shouldn't.

    Trees

    You could even think big and grow a tree!  Trees grow in winter so take an apple pip, an acorn or a horse chestnut and plant them in a little pot.  They will be fine outside as they need the cold to germinate. Then come Spring you will start to see your own mini forest!

    Left Overs

    carrot_tops_growing_in_winter_from_leftoversIf you want a low cost way to keep your gardening going during winter then you can start to grow veg from your left overs.

    Place cut carrot tops in a shallow dish of water and they will sprout - you can use the tops as fresh carrot flavoured leaves for salads and soups.  You could also regrow lettuce and celery from the base in the same way.

    Try growing orange or lemon pips in a little pot.

    What did you do?

    So, there are plenty of things that can keep you and your little ones on your growing journey.  I hope this has inspired you.

    This blog was produced as a direct result of a request from one of our Instagram followers @shedsews so if you have an idea for a blog or a gardening subject that is really puzzling you then do let us know. We would also love to hear what you will try to grow in winter - whether it is one of the ideas here or something of your own.  Please comment or tag Haxnicks in your picture so we can see what worked and share it with others!

  • Grow at Home: Spinach

    Growing Spinach

    Spinach_seedlingsYou will have heard (maybe from the lips of the legendary PopEye) that spinach is super high in iron.  This, and the rumor that a scientist put the decimal place in the wrong spot thus multiplying the iron content by ten, both appear to be unsubstantiated and probably false.    However, spinach is an excellent source of vitamin K, vitamin A, vitamin C and folate as well as being a good source of manganese, magnesium, iron and vitamin B2.  It is also tasty and versatile and can be used from smoothies to stir fries to salads. Oh, and its easy to grow!

    History

    It is believed that the first spinach grew in Persia. In the Middle Ages it then moved east to Nepal and at the same time was introduced to Sicily.  Clever irrigation methods made this possible and its journey continued until it came to the notice of the ruling classes in Florence.  From there the young Catherine de Medici took it to Frnace when she was married to Henry II, King of France. All this was playing to spinaches strenghts as it much prefers a cooler climate  than the heat of Persia.

    Growing Spinach

    So spinach is a cool-weather crop.  It doesn't like daytime temperatures above 24 degrees C (75 degrees F). Good moist, sandy soil is best, encouraging rapid growth. When temperatures soar and daylight increases (as in the summer months), the plants will bolt and go to seed.  Which is why it is ideal to plant it a little later in the year to avoid having to watch over it for problems.

    Sowing & Harvesting

    Sow your seeds directly outside in their final positions from March to August. Sow them in shallow lines quite thinly. Cover them with poly tunnels or cloches to protect them and to encourage growth, you may also need a Slug-Buster.  If you don't have a large garden then spinach will also thrive in a container. Choose a Shallow vegetable planter -as spinach doesn't 't have long roots - and plant thinly exactly as you would outside.

    As the seedlings appear, thin them out to about 6-8” 15-20cm apart. You can pick the smaller more tender leaves when they are about 3” 7cm long and use them in salads, anything bigger than that should be cooked for a short amount of time and be eaten as a hot vegetable.

    Keep picking the leaves so that a) they don’t run to seed and b) they keep on growing.

    tiny_spinach_plants_in_groundPerpetual Spinach is the one that I always plant as you only need to plant one lot and it lasts for months and months, sometimes even years.  Very easy. Perpetual spinach is not actually spinach, it is actually a chard (beet family) but looks and is eaten in exactly the same way.  Well worth planting for a regular supply.

    It does require some maintenance as trimming the leaves frequently helps improve the flavour of Perpetual Spinach.

  • 4 Types of Gardeners - which one are you?

    There are 4 types of gardeners -- which one are you?

    The Escapees

    Types_of_gardeners_The EscapeesThese people will generally have an allotment although they can be found in the garden shed equipped with a kettle or corkscrew.  They are generally there because they don't want to be somewhere else.  Even before Lockdown these gardeners were running away from busy households, stressful jobs and being trapped between 4 walls.

    The lure is a combination of fresh air, a mug of tea enjoyed in silence and being surrounded by greenery.  They do like growing stuff but if its too wet to be out you won't hear them complain.

     

     

     

    The Tribe

    Types_of_gardeners_The_Tribe

    These are the the people who are there for the people.  They love other gardeners and like a chat as they lean on their spade.  You'll find them on allotments and at Gardening Clubs sitting in the back row.  They will be the one wearing a "Stay Calm and Keep Gardening" T-shirt to prove their dedication and will be happy to give and receive advice.

    All the chatting over the years may mean they turn into an expert.  Their plot may not have as much planted as the next person's (where does the time go?) but they'll have a chat about it if you like...

     

     

    The Warriors

    Types_of_gardeners_The_Warrior

    These gardeners are there with a purpose.  A higher purpose.  They are there to save the planet or at least do their bit.  Vegetables feature heavily on their plot and in their diet.  They will care deelpy about reducing food miles and will know the mileage between their allotment and their home so they can scatter their lengthy blog posts with the necessary stats.

    They are to be admired for eating seasonally and their in depth knowledge of international pickling techniques.

     

     

    The Snappers

    Types_of_gardeners_The_SnapperFor these gardeners the plot is a studio or film set for their life story.  These gardeners will be stocking their plot with all things photogenic  - they will have cucamelons tumbling from planters, carrots in every colour but orange and sunlight glinting through rainbow chard.

    They opened the Instagram account the day they go the plot - nothing like a good before and after picture!  And if you follow them you will get to experience every garden bird, shaft of sunlight and emerging seedling as they happen.

     

     

     

    Which one are you?

    Which one of our types of gardeners are you?  Most people will identify more with more than one.  Whatever category you fit into (or don't fit into) chances are you are getting a lot out of being in the garden.  A survey done by Gardeners’ World magazine in 2013 found that 80 percent of gardeners reported being “happy” and “satisfied” with their lives, compared to 67 percent of non-gardeners.

    It is hard to pin down why gardening works but it is proven to relieve stress.  Key reasons why gardening makes us feel good are that it is both physical exercise, which releases endorphins, and also a creative passtime that allows us to express ourselves.  It gives responsibility for nurturing the plants and a sense of achievement when you move from the 'before' to 'after'.  It has certainly been a sanctuary for many during the pandemic.

    So if you know anyone who is stressed then buy them a pot plant.  Its not a joke.  Just having a single house plant to look after has been proven to reduce stress and make you feel more energised.  It helps you think more clearly, and starts to relieve anxiety or depression.

    Even if we can't pin down the reason why gardening helps there are countless real life stories of it happening.  We'd love to hear yours...

    Types of gardeners

  • 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.

    carrots_orange_red_on_wooden_table

    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!

  • What a nice thing to say! (but I bet the pigeons don't like us as much)

    Micromesh1It's nice to wake up to a compliment, isn't it?  So this morning I was really pleased to read that someone's plants were on the road to growing happy and healthy due to the Haxnicks Easy TunnelsAnd even better they had taken these great pictures of the Tunnels in action.

    Iwona and Neil , the inhabitants of "The Wonky shed at Number 13" dreamt of sauerkraut last year and planted accordingly.  Returning to the plot several days later, they found that slugs, snails and an unexpected flock of pigeons had visited.  It cost them their cauliflowers, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, kalettes, and their many different cabbages.   (This family clearly really love their veg!)

    They say "We decided to get some netting and on the plot next to us there was this mesh tunnel from @haxnicks that we really liked. We did some research and got one for ourselves and we grew a few more cabbages under it. The tunnel proved  really great for pest control and so we got a few more for this season. "   They have used these - ever ambitious - to plant Chinese cabbage, pak choi, broccoli, Brussels sprouts and little gem lettuce.

    The Tunnel

    The tunnel they chose was the Haxnicks - Easy Micromesh Tunnel which has ultra fine 0.6mm mesh which keeps out even tiny aphids and carrot flies and is ideal for your brassicas.  Next year maybe they will add a Haxnicks Easy Poly Tunnel to warm the soil so they can plant earlier and lengthen the growing season to grow even more veg. They could get up to an extra 6 weeks growing time with this tunnel.

    Thanks for the feedback!

    We love to hear how you are using our products.  So please tag us in your Social Media posts and tell us how much you love the products.  Maybe you will make a star appearance on our blog too!

  • Grow at Home: Onions from seed

    Many people grow onions from sets - mini, immature onion bulbs - to get a head start.  The advantage of growing onions from seeds, instead of from sets, is that it is far cheaper if you are going for a big harvest. So if you eat a lot of onions then seeds are worth a try but you need to get them in ASAP now.

    Sowing

    Make sure you use fresh seeds as the germination rate reduces the older seeds get.  They will still germinate but if you are using a packet from last year you may need to sow a few more to get the crop you are hoping for.  Sow the seeds on a windowsill or in the greenhouse, from February to April.

    spring_onion_cutThey will germinate without extra heat, but providing a little heat underneath the seed trays or pots will speed up the germination process.  So, add a lid or enclose in a plastic bag and put it on a heat mat or somewhere warm like on top of the fridge.  Germination should take around 7 to 10 days.

    Onion seedlings sometimes have trouble shedding the seed husk and end up doubled up like an ostrich with their head in the sand.  If you want to help them move along then you can snip the thinner bit, pull it out complete with seed husk and discard it.  The thicker side of the loop can then get on with growing.  This is fiddly and they will sort themselves out eventually so you can decide if you have the time and energy to do this or want to just let them get on with it.

    Whether you are growing in the ground or containers make sure that that the young onions get plenty of light. If you are not growing in a greenhouse, then put the seedlings outside on warm sunny days to get maximum light benefit and to help harden them off. Use a large Bell cloche, poly lantern cloche or poly tunnel to help protect from wind and temperatures below 10˚c. Once you are happy that night time temperatures are well above 8˚C then the onions can stay out without protection.

    Planting Outside

    onions_growingTransplant them outside in May or June when they produce a third leaf and are about 3” (8cm) high. Dig some rich fertiliser into the ground where you are going to plant them.  Make sure you put it directly under where the onions will be as their roots are concentrated directly down from the bulb.

    Plant them vertically and handle them gently. The bulb should be ½” (1cm) below the surface. Depending on the onions final sizes, plant them between 2-10” (4-25cm) apart, with 9" (22cm) between rows.

    Container Growing

    If you want to grow onions in containers then transplant them at the same stage as for outdoors. The container will need to be at least 10" (25cm) deep and each onion will need about 8cm (3 inches) of space to grow. So, the wider the container the better.  Make sure that the compost you use to fill the container is not too high in nitrogen.  If it is you will get a lovely leafy display above ground and very little below ground.

    Looking after your Plants

    The important thing while they are growing is to keep the weeds down.  Onion seedlings don't compete well with weeds and it will affect the size of your onions.  So weed regularly.

    You can also keep trimming them back to around 5" so that they don't flop over.  Once again they will be OK if you leave them to their own devices, so if you're not growing them for the Village Show you may want to miss this step.

    Keep them well watered especially when it is dry. When the leaves start to turn yellow at the ends, bend the tops over to help with the ripening.  Possibly even clear a little of the soil at the top of the bulb too.

    Harvest

    onion_bulb_in_groundHarvest them from July to October.  Lift the onions as you need them from July to October.  There is a danger that they can rot in the ground when it starts to get very wet so harvest and store them before the end of October. After you lift them let them lie in the sun for a couple of days.

    Storage

    Only store the onions that are perfect - use any that aren't straight away.   The best way to store them is in a jute Veg Sack.  This allows air to circulate and keeps them cool and dark. They can keep in a well aired room for up to six months.

    Top Tip

    When peeling chopped onions, light a couple of candles.  This should stop your eyes watering, as the vapours from the onions will be absorbed in the candle flames.

  • Grow at Home - Sweet/Bell Peppers/Capsicum

    What are they?

    The Bell Pepper (Capsicum annuum) is also known as the Sweet Pepper or Capsicum and is originally native to the Americas.  As its name suggests, it is sweet rather than spicy.  This is because it does not produce capsaicin, the chemical that creates a strong burning sensation that makes the other members of the family such as chillies taste 'hot'.

    Botanically speaking, like tomatoes, bell peppers are fruits.  However, when cooking they are considered a vegetable and despite their sweet taste no one is going to thank you for adding them to the apple crumble!

    Colours  Multi_coloured_peppers

    They come in green, red, yellow, orange, brown, white, purple, lavender and black.  Red peppers are ripened green peppers, the exception being the Permagreen pepper which is still green when ripe and will never turn red.
    The sweetness of the pepper depends on growing conditions and how much it has been allowed to ripen.  So a ripe red pepper will be sweeter than the less ripe green one.  Peppers that have ripened on the plant will also be sweeter than those that were picked and allowed to ripen after.  Not something you can change when buying them but if you grow your own then you can ensure they are as sweet as possible by leaving them to ripen on the plant.

    There are many varieties but I would choose a hardy, early variety such as Yellow Monster or Lipstick to get the best results.

    Sowing

    Peppers are easy to grow from seed and have a high germination rate.  Sow seeds 1/2" (1cm) deep inside in Rootrainers, pots or seed trays from mid-February to end of March.  They will take 2-4 weeks to germinate.

    Peppers like it warm so so use a propagator and aim for a temperature of around 18-21°C (65-70°F) or place on a warm windowsill, with plastic bags over the pots to keep the heat and moisture in.  Of course if you have used Rootrainers then they come with their own lid so you can just pop this on for the perfect environment.

    Transplant into 3" (8cm) pots when two true leaves have formed.  Handle the seedlings by the leaves to avoid damaging the delicate stem.

    If you don't want to grow from seed then most Garden Centres will sell plants.

    Planting

    Position

    If growing in England this crop is much better being grown in a greenhouse or on a windowsill for as long as possible.

    If planting in the ground space the rows 18" (45cm) apart with the same distance between plants.  The more you prepare the bigger the yield you will get so dig in some well rotted manure.  You may also wish to cover the ground with a  Easy Poly Tunnel  to warm the soil before planting.  Once your plants are in position keep them covered with a cloche or a tunnel as they like it warm, but remember to take it off or open it for periods to allow pollination.

    Peppers grow well in containers and can also be grown in grow bag planters or in the garden as long as it is in a sheltered, sunny spot.  Ideally a South or West facing brick wall or fence.

    Potting On

    Once the roots fill your 3" (8cm) pot transfer plants to 12" (30cm) pots of good compost.  Do this in mid-May (heated greenhouse), late-May (unheated greenhouse) or June if growing outside.

    Pinch out the growing tips of chillies when they are about 12" (30cm) tall to encourage bushiness.

    Watch the plants as the fruits begin to grow.  If fruit becomes heavy then stake and tie plants in to prevent breakages.  Also, if growing in a greenhouse the leaves can become scorched so watch out for this and open vents and shade as appropriate if the temperatures start to soar.

    Feeding & Watering

    As with all plants regular water is vital so make sure you keep the moisture levels as constant as you can.

    Once flowers form start feeding with a fertiliser suitable for tomatoes e.g. a high potash liquid fertiliser with seaweed.  Feed every 10 days as you water.

    Harvesting

    Harvest August to November.  Expect to harvest between 3 and 8 peppers per plant.

    Start to pick the fruit when it is large, green and has a glossy sheen.  If you prefer sweeter peppers then leave it on the plant to mature but this will reduce yield.  If you still have peppers on the plant when the frosts arrive then dig up the whole plant.  Hang it upside down in a shed or greenhouse to allow the fruit to continue to ripen.
    Once harvested, if kept cool, bell peppers can store for up to 3 weeks once picked.

     

  • Make it a very Merry Christmas for the gardener in your life...

    Here comes Christmas, the offices are festooned with decorations and everyone is starting to get excited!

    For the serious gardener, pretty much any Haxnicks product makes a cracking present.  For those of you who are still struggling to complete that oh so challenging gift list, I thought I'd highlight the best that we have to offer when it comes to getting the perfect present.

    You'll find everything on our website, just use the links or tap in the name in the search box.

    Bell_Cloches_in_3_sizesHaxnicks Bell Cloches King Size, Original or Baby  are a popular gift item, being aesthetically pleasing AND very practical.  Whether sitting over a prized plant in the garden deterring pests, cats, children and any number of other hazards or keeping out the frost and howling wind these bells will always make an original and successful present.

     

     

    Haxnicks_veg_sacks_with _cane_toppers_christmas_present

    How many times do you receive gifts that you will never use?  Gifts that are pretty quickly shoved to the back of a cupboard or given swiftly to charity?  We are all being asked to buy less so why not buy something you know will be used and enjoyed?

    Here's an idea: With a trend towards natural wrapping rather than 'glittery' wrapping paper that can't be recycled, the Haxnicks Vegetable Sacks double as wrapping and a gift.  Stuff full of gardening related stocking fillers. Add a reusable bow and you'll have a hit on your hands and somewhere to store your spuds come autumn.

    A little knowledge?

    Down_to_earth_gardening_book_madeliene_cardozoA gardening book will keep giving year after year. 
    Down to Earth 
     is a practical veg growing guide that covers the most common household favourite as well as some less often grown choices.  Beautifully photographed it is as at home on the coffee table as in the potting shed.  It makes an ideal present for the novice or the experienced gardener wishing to expand their range.

    New & different?

    wrapped_veg_with_bamboo_pots_and_christmas_treeIts always nice to be the first to have something so make them the envy of their gardening chums with Haxnicks Bamboo Pots, Saucers and Seed trays.  These are new and different and make a great gift.

     

     

    Hampers

    Pea_growing_hamperHow about a Christmas present and New Year's resolution all rolled into one?  Does your other half yearn to eat their own potatoes at Christmas Dinner 2019?  Is a planter full of fresh peas or beans on their 'to do' list?  Making up a hamper couldn't be easier - Rootrainers, planters, cane toppers, soft tie, veg sacks  Some things they will already have but add the things they don't and they will be ready to go once the weather warms up.

    Finally a great reason for choosing a gardening gift is that you can get it at a Garden Centre.  There is nowhere more Christmassy than a good Garden Centre.  So you will get your fill of Christmas spirit with loads of parking and its open right up until Christmas

     

    Haxnicks_Stocking_fillers

     

    Happy Christmas from all at Haxnicks, and we look forward to seeing your growing projects in the New Year.

  • Exploring the rhizosphere: how to grow trouble free onion sets...

    Rootrainers are what I've chosen for years to grow overwintering onion sets, garlic and spring planted onion sets. Onion sets (small immature onions) allow me to have onions all year round. But, originally manufactured to grow tree seedlings, why would I use Rootrainers for onion sets?

    Growing Onions using Haxnicks Rootrainers
    Growing onions from seeds can be a hit and miss affair, with weather, birds and the like all affecting the young seedlings’ growth outdoors, particularly those seedlings that have to overwinter. I am not after prize winning onions anyway or even huge onions so don't need to use onion seeds. I prefer sets. However, whenever I planted sets direct into the soil outdoors, within a few days, I would find many of the sets had been pulled up from where I had planted them and scattered all over the soil. Who or what was responsible?

    Some detective work - root zones and rhizospheres...

    The root zone is the name for the region of the soil around plant roots as they grow.  The roots produce secretions that help and protect them as they force their way downwards through the soil. The immediate area around the root is called the rhizosphere. There will be many rhizospheres within the root zone of a plant.

    The rhizosphere is the most dynamic environment in the soil, or a microbe ‘hot spot’, the fast food areas of the soil! The roots are also continually shedding old tissue and sloughed-off plant cells. The root secretions and dead plant cells are a feast for microbes living in the soil. In return the soil microbes provide nutrients for the plants, which encourage plant growth. More plant growth means more roots. A win-win situation! Hence soil microbes themselves congregate around the roots. Microbes in turn are a beacon for earthworms, who sense the root secretions and microbes in the soil and target such ‘hot spots’ to feast upon them!

    The Culprit!

    In my garden its the blackbird.  Blackbirds deliberately pull up the onion sets to seek out earthworms and other such tasty morsels, living and feeding in the root zone underneath the onion set.

    By planting onion sets in Rootrainers, the roots will grow in and around the compost, binding it together.  Then when planting them outdoors, unless the blackbird has fed on at least 3 Weetabix (!) that morning, it will not have the energy or strength to pull out the onion set with its well rooted fibrous compost ball, which is a lot heavier than an onion set on its own. Result:  no more scattered onion sets!

    Due to their size onion sets are great for children and school projects too.  Handling them is easy.  Planting requires less skill as sets are easier to handle than seeds.  Together, sets and rootrainers make the exercise easy and interesting for children to do for themselves. One major advantage for schools is that the children can grow AND harvest them all within the school year.

     

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