Deep Rootrainers

  • 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.

     

  • 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!

     

  • Growing Broad Beans in Rootrainers

    Hello Gardeners,

    I hope that your gardens are flourishing with this recent burst of warmer weather. The contents of my greenhouse are certainly bursting into life and I am now beginning to really see the results of some of my New Year sowing and planting. Back in February I sowed some broad beans in Rootrainers. Having not quite got around to digging over the veg patch, I felt that this would give them a head start, and now the veg patch is ready and the young plugs are perfect for planting out.

    Haxnicks Deep Rootrainers growing Broad Beans

    As you can see, every single bean has germinated and gone on to produce really healthy looking young plants. The great thing about using these Rootrainers is that the plant ends up with a truly super root system making the plants much stronger. The grooves in the Rootrainer cells guide the first roots towards the drainage holes at the bottom where the tips die off. Then, lots of little side roots develop higher up in the cell. This process of air-pruning gives each plant a set of strong, straight roots. Of course I am bound to be a proud exponent of this product, but any avid Monty Don fans out there will know that he is pretty keen on Rootrainers too. Look no further than the most recent episode of Gardener’s World!

    Haxnicks Rootrainers with Healthy Broad Bean Roots

    Because the Rootrainers open up like a book it is really easy to remove the plug plants without disturbing or damaging  the roots. You can easily have a peak to see how things are getting on. Opening up the Rootrainers like this is also great for showing children what goes on below the soil too!

    Haxnicks helps Zambian Orphans grow their first VegetablesThese children have been learning all about growing plants in the best way possible, by growing their own vegetables. This image has been sent to me by my great grand daughter of the first veg coming in from The Haxnicks garden in Zambia  where all looks like it's going to plan!

    Happy gardening,

    Grandpa Haxnicks

  • Haxnicks helps orphans in Zambia to Grow their Own

    Haxnicks Speedhoe in full use in The Heal Project in Zambia

    Hello gardeners,

    I Have a heart-warming story to tell this month. Haxnicks has been preparing a new vegetable garden far from its homeland in sunny Zambia. Inspired by my great grand-daughter Lali Cardozo and her work with an orphanage near Lusaka, we sent out a team of enthusiastic gardeners armed with Haxnicks products, a generous donation of seeds from Suttons and lots of energy. Our aim was to kick-start a vegetable garden enabling the children of the orphanage to grow some exciting new fruit and veg that might make a refreshing and healthy change from maize and cabbage.

    Zambian children choosing Seeds given by Haxnicks

    Lots of children from the orphanage chose their own packets of seeds to plant: they all wanted to plant cucumbers, strawberries and melons!

     

    Zambian Children at the Heal Project planting Seeds from Haxnicks

    Rootrainers were used for the larger seeds such as squash, melons and cucumbers and the speciality tomatoes, when the Rootrainers ran out the children ran off to find any old empty plastic water bottles, or cups to sow more seeds in.

     

    Haxnicks Garden at the Heal Project in Zambia

    Easy net tunnels were used for protecting the seedlings in pots, micromesh fabric was laid over rows of seeds to protect against heavy downpours of rain during the rainy season. Micromesh barriers were put up around the beds to protect them from the cats, dogs, snails and wandering children. Birdscare was used to ward off the birds. Last but not least the ornamental frame of Big Ben was erected at the top of the patch in the hope that eventually peas will clamber up and the children will have great fun harvesting them.

    Seeds appearing in Haxnicks Rootrainers in the Vegetable GardenWith a downpour of rain and temperatures of 25 degrees within 4 days all the radishes had appeared as well as all the squash, melons and courgettes. 100% germination rate in the rootrainers! The children are hoping that they will have more than they can eat, and some to sell in the market. The orphanage has the space to make the garden bigger and Haxnicks plan to return to help expand the garden, build a fence around it with a gate, set up an automatic watering system and much more. Now the gardening team have returned, wondering in anticipation which seedlings are appearing, whether they will be washed away by the rain, die from drought, or mature into healthy bumper crops to fuel the children and a market stall business. Lali hopes to be able to send some updates and let us all know how things are progressing, but in the meantime she has sent this to tell you a little bit more about her friend Jeannie's orphanage.

    Lali Cardozo teaches at Heal Project School in Zambia

    'My friend Jeannie Mulenga is the inspiration behind The Heal Project, a charity set up in 1999 in Zambia. The Heal Project supports people living with HIV/Aids in Zambia working together towards a better life. Jeannie has 3 of her own children as well as thirty children who have nowhere else to turn, all of whom have lost their parents and many of whom are living with HIV. If you have been inspired, as I have by Jeanie and her wonderful children then please have a look at our Just Giving page.'

    I hope to be able to update you all soon with how things are going and growing at the orphanage, but in the meantime,

    Happy Gardening,

    Grandpa Haxnicks

  • The Potty gardener growing peas in containers

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    Last month Grandpa Haxnicks  gave me 3 tips for growing peas in containers for an early as possible crop...

    Rootrainers

    Warmth

    Love

    So I got hold of some Rootrainers, wrapped up warm, and gave myself a hug. So far so good, my peas are doing well!

    Peas growing in Haxnicks Rootrainers

    I chose an early variety of pea suitable for container growing. Douce Provence claims to be sweet and compact, growing to approximately 60cm tall. Just my sort of pea. I sowed the first peas half a finger deep in Deep Rootrainers about 6 weeks ago and since then have made two other fortnightly sowings for a longer cropping season.  Thanks to the cosy environment of my Sunbubble, an unusual amount of sunshine and of course tender, loving care from me, the peas are now healthy looking plants.

    Healthy Pea Roots in Haxnicks Rootrainers

    It is not surprising that they are looking so good on top when you see what a super root system they have formed in the Rootrainers.  As you can see the Rootrainer cells open up like a book making them easy  to plant without disturbing the roots.

    Haxnicks Pea Bean Patio Planter

    This morning, I found last year's pea and bean patio planter in the darkest most spidery corner of my garden shed and filled it up with a good multi purpose compost ready to accommodate the first pea plugs . With 1m bamboo canes and some Soft-Tie I built a tepee for the Pea and Bean Patio Planter. There are some helpful little cane support pockets on the outside which keep the support canes in place. The peas are now happily bedded in and hopefully ready to climb towards fruition. It is such a sunny day that I'm leaving them out to get used to the big wide world and adjust to outside temperatures, but I will be sure to tuck them up again tonight (perhaps with a bedtime story, there is one about a fussy Princess that I think they will enjoy).

    Rootrainers, warmth and love...easy peasy!

  • The Potty gardener sorting with Soft-Tie and spiders!

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    Thanks to the fearsome weather over the past few weeks any gardening time has been spent undercover in my garden shed, clearing, sorting and tidying. There were moments, with the full force of Storm Barney raging outside, when I feared a Wizard of Oz style take-off in the gale force winds. There were also moments when I feared a horror movie style savaging from the monster sized spiders crawling out from every dark corner of the shed. Thankfully, I have survived the storms and the spiders to tell the tale of the looking after Rootrainers, the marvels of Soft-tie and the cure for arachnophobia….

    Haxnicks Rootrainers stored in a Garden Shed

    I was busy stacking up a neat pile of the Rootrainers, that had so successfully nurtured my sweet peas earlier this year, when I heard some disapproving mutterings blowing in with the wind through the door….Grandpa Haxnicks had arrived to help. My neat stacks of Rootrainers, he told me, were all wrong. Apparently, stacking the propagation lids inside one another in direct sunlight can dramatically reduce their life span as, in warmer weather, heat can build up between the layers and warp the plastic. He also advised that I keep the black Rootrainer cells away from the direct sunlight of the shed window too. He says that I should look after my Rootrainers as I would look after biscuits…hmmmm….?  Unwrap, eat within 2 days and buy more? I think perhaps store in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight.

    The next mess to tackle was the unruly pile of bamboo canes that had somehow been interwoven with the electric strimmer cable and some nylon strawberry netting and was resembling some form of giant primary school textile project designed to teach texture and uninhibited creativity.

    Original Woody Soft Tie from Haxnicks binding canes

    Grandpa Haxnicks’ answer to this mess….Soft-Tie! Small lengths of the bendy, stretchy garden tie can be tightly twisted to keep all manner of things in place. I still had to untangle the mess but hopefully now that all is secured such muddles will be a thing of the past.

    Slim Soft Tie from Haxnicks in Proper Use

    Haxnicks Slim Soft Tie used to hang up Garden Tools

    I won’t bore you with the rest of the clearing that went on, except to say that it was interspersed with involuntary screams as the largest, hairiest spiders in the whole of Dorset were uncovered. One particularly evil spider, that had clearly had enough of all the fuss I was making, decided to disappear up my sleeve whereupon I entered into a kind of possessed frenzy, removing layers of clothing, shaking my arms and, much to Grandpa Haxnicks’ amusement, tripping over the wheelbarrow. This complete loss of dignity, coupled with extreme exposure to spiders seems to have had a curative effect on my arachnophobia. I feel a lot less squeamish in their presence and, I hope in the future, a little more in control when under attack. If any spider dares to crawl up my sleeve again then he will find I have a trick up there to render him helpless…Soft-Tie. Perfect for keeping unruly things, such as 8 hairy legs, under control!

  • Sweet Peas and mice!

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    The Potty Gardener

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

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

    Growing Sweet Peas in Haxnicks Rootrainers

    Sweet pea fortress

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

  • Sweet Peas

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

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

    Haxnicks Deep Rootrainers

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

  • Easy to open propagator

    This year, more gardeners than ever are propagating their plants using Haxnicks RootrainersTM, a unique propagating tray for seeds, plugs and cuttings. The deep grooved modules encourage the faster formation of straight roots and the trays open out like a book
    to avoid damaging the baby plants when planting out.
    Haxnicks Rootrainers
    The Rootrainers propagator can be popped on a window sill
    Haxnicks
    RootrainersTM have specially designed cells with grooved sides that
    encourage the main root to grow towards the drainage opening at the bottom
    where the tip makes contact with the air and dies off, encouraging vigorous
    root growth. This air-pruning produces a faster formation of straight roots
    without root balls which is particularly good for growing sweet peas where a
    long, vigorous root system is the key to strong plants.
    Haxnicks Rootrainers
    Opens like a book making it easy  to remove the plants

     

    When
    the plant is ready to be re-potted, the cells simply open like a book which makes it easy to remove the plug without damaging the root system. Each RootrainersTM pack contains a holding
    tray, propagating lid and set of cells and can be reused year after year for
    bedding plants, salads and herbs as well as for runner beans, fruit and
    vegetables.As your local garden centre for Haxnicks Rootrainers. 

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