Easy Poly Tunnels

  • Grow at Home: Purple Sprouting Broccoli and Calabrese



    Purple Sprouting Broccoli  and Italian Calabrese are often confused as the supermarket sold 'broccoli' is in fact the large green headed calabrese.

    Purple Sprouting Broccoli is an excellent crop for filling the harvesting gap at the end of the winter and heralds the start of the new grow your own season for many gardeners.  It is also the hardiest and easiest broccolis to grow.

    Where to grow

    All forms of broccoli and calabrese do best in an open sunny position. Protection from strong winds will prevent the plants from rocking.

    Both require a rich soil. Manure in the Autumn and apply lime  if necessary to bring the pH up to 6.5-7 in particular for the purple sprouting variety. You can get soil testing kits from the garden centre which will quickly tell you the pH of your soil.


    If growing from seed then plant in the greenhouse or a windowsill from March to April.   You can plant in pots or for a better result try Rapid Rootrainers.   These will allow you to transplant them without root disturbance that could slow their growth.

    You can also sow seed thinly direct into their final position.  Sow in rows to a depth of 1cm with 15cm between rows. After germination thin to 5 cm apart in preparation for transplanting to their final position.

    Calabrese do not transplant as happily so should ideally be sown direct and thinned to 30 cm apart. Easy Poly Tunnels will aid germination and Easy Net Tunnels protect the young seedlings from birds.

    Transplant deeply with the first leaves sitting on the soil surface to discourage cabbage root fly and help stabilise the plant.  Firm in well, again to help secure the plant and eliminate any air pockets.


    Keep well watered during dry periods to allow healthy growth throughout the long growing season.  Mulching the rows with garden compost will help retain moisture and keep weeds in check as will regular weeding between rows with a Speedhoe will help loosening the soil around the developing plants.

    Harvesting and Storage

    Start harvesting in late winter and continue through to mid spring, depending on the variety grown.  Harvest shoots of Purple Sprouting varieties  before they flower at around 15cm long.  Regular cutting encourages new shoots and any that reach flowering stage should be removed to prevent exhausting the plant.

    Calabrese can be harvested from late summer to early autumn.  Heads should be cut, starting from the central flower head, while still tightly closed. Spread harvesting of the crop to avoid completely stripping a plant.

    Broccoli Pests and diseases

    Cabbage root fly is the main pest to effect broccoli and calabrese.  Protect with fleece during the early stages to help avoid this - Easy Fleece Tunnels are ideal for this.

    In order to prevent damage to the roots from wind rock (damage to the roots of young plants, caused by the movement of the stem in the wind.)use a Micromesh Pest & Wind Barrier

    For a really thorough way to keep pests off them the Haxnicks Grower Frame with the Micromesh cover  The Grower frame is taller than your average growing space so ideal for broccoli.  The Micromesh cover is an ultra fine netting that will keep insects as small as aphids and carrot flies out.  Your broccoli and many other veg will be more than happy to be grown in one.     


  • Grow at Home : Radish

    This extremely fast growing vegetable is available in more varieties than many people realise.  Along with the familiar round red radish often used in salads, there are also varieties with pink, yellow or white roots.  There are few more attractive plants to see in the ornamental kitchen garden than a neat row of ruby red radishes peeping out from the soil!

    In fact, in ancient Greece, radishes were so highly regarded that gold replicas were made of them. The Greek name for the radish, Raphamus, means "quickly appearing," which perfectly describes their reputation for being the first vegetable to sprout in a spring garden.

    Where to grow

    Radishes will grow in most soils, but thrive in soil that is rich in organic matter and is moisture retentive.  Dig in plenty of garden compost before sowing if the ground has not been previously manured.

    Choose an open sunny site, although radishes can cope with dappled shade in the height of summer which makes them ideal for intercropping at this time.

    Radish Sowing

    Summer crops can be started by sowing outside under cloches in late winter and early spring.  Sow thinly 1 cm deep with 15cm between rows and thin as plants develop.

    Successional sowing is important to prevent a glut - small rows every 2 weeks will give you a good continuous supply.


    Keep well watered and weed free - radishes are a very easy crop to care for!

    Harvesting and Storage

    Pick radishes before they get too old and woody.  Select the larger roots first and leave the rest of the crop to grow.  Late crops can be covered with straw to protect them from the cold or kept under a fleece cloche.

    Radish Pests and Diseases

    Radishes are related to cabbages and so prone to the same pests and diseases.  Flea Beetle and slugs are normally the main issue.

    On the plus side radishes are also good at deterring cucumber beetle so a great companion plant for cucumbers.

  • Madeleine's Garden

    Madeleine’s Garden 2018

    January 8th 2018 – Inspecting the Patch and buying seeds

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

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

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

    Haxnicks Garden Tunnels



  • Keeping Out the Easter Bunny and all his friends!

    Haxnicks Garden Products can be brought onlineThe Easter Bunny is no myth. Every year, just as carefully nurtured seedlings are beginning to flourish, the Easter bunny appears. Sponsored by Cadbury’s he is duty-bound to hide chocolate eggs in your garden. However, he and his accomplices seem to think that in return for this uninvited favour it is perfectly acceptable.  Yes, absolutely fine to help themselves to whatever delicacies lie in their path! So, be ready this Easter and protect your emerging crops against these greedy nibblers!

    Keeping Rabbits away from Garden Plants

    Growing in Planters

    Growing your veg in pots and planters means that juicy crops may be harder to reach for the rabbits, but those of you with a ground level vegetable patch have a harder task. Rabbit-proof fencing needs to be at least 120cm high with 30cm dug below the ground and a 15cm 'skirt' bent outwards to stop them digging their way in. When you factor in the fence posts this all adds up to beyond the annual defence budget of most gardeners.

    Protecting Garden Plants from Rabbits

    So, instead of protecting the entire garden you could just protect the most vulnerable plants.  A Micromesh Pest and Wind Barrier is a cheap and easy way to surround a raised bed and due to the tiny gauge mesh will also give protection against insect invasion such as carrot fly.

    Haxnicks Micromesh Easy Tunnels offer great protection for garden plantsA crop cover such as a net or poly tunnel  can quickly be rolled out over a row to deter the rabbits. Just remember to pull the drawstring tight at the ends!

    Garden Cloche offers great protection for your Garden Plants from pests and wild animalsFor smaller, individual plants Bell Cloche will, amongst many other things, help to keep the bunnies at bay.

    Finally, if all else fails you could take a Mr McGregor style approach and chase the bob-tailed bandits with a rake. However, this may involve endless night-shifts as rabbits normally emerge to feed between dusk and dawn.  No wonder Mr McGregor was so grumpy!

  • The Potty Gardener and Easter Bunnies

    Haxnicks Garden Products can be brought onlineWe all understand that Easter Bunnies don’t like chocolate and are especially keen to give it away at this time of year. I am happy with this arrangement. I am not happy with the flip-side of this arrangement. (In the case of this particular lop-eared bunny I will call it the flop-side.)

    The Flop Side of Easter Bunnies

    The flop-side of this Easter bunny’s game plan is that in return for secretly leaving chocolate she thinks that it’s acceptable to help herself.  She'll grab anything that takes her fancy in the garden, wreaking havoc and causing considerable damage. In this particular case the problem is easily solved by returning her to her secure accommodation. For her wilder and far naughtier cousins the problem must be solved with plant protection.

    Baby Victorian Bell Cloches from Haxnicks

    Growing in pots makes it less tempting and trickier for rabbits to nibble at any new plantings and soft growth.  Those of you growing in rows it may be a different story. Those early shoots that will pop up soon are at particular risk of becoming a bunny salad. So unless you have a rabbit proof fence surrounding your veg plot then some Bell Cloches or an Easy Tunnel pegged over the plants should keep the naughty nibblers at bay and keep the plants cosy and moist too.

    Flexi-Mesh Treeguards from Haxnicks

    At this time of the year there are far more tempting treats than tree bark for bunnies to gnaw on.  However, when other vegetation is sparse beware! If trees are ringbarked (nibbled all the way round) it can kill them. If rabbits nibble the tree all the way round it can kill them. You can protect young trees easily with a tree guard, just make sure that it is over 50cm in height to allow for a giant rabbit invasion, small rabbits on stilts and normal sized rabbits on their hind legs. I have ambitions to grow small trees in pots  which should mean that they are growing high enough off the ground to be out of rabbit reach. Anyway that's quite enough of me rabbiting on, I'm off to hunt for chocolate !

  • 4 easy ways to grow more during a wet summer

    Post by Robbie Cumming

    Here in the UK we love our unpredictable weather and a wet summer is part of that. We love barbecueing indoors, picnicking on ground sheets and going to the office in our wellies.

    But our plants haven't loved the lower than normal temperatures and lack of sunlight, so we aren't able to enjoy the produce of our vegetable gardens as much as our dear friend Mr Slug (another matter entirely).

    But the question is - can we do anything about it?


    Haxnicks Garden Products can be brought online

    The good news is - YES!

    And being experts in plant protection (even if we say so ourselves) we have a pretty good idea of exactly which products will help you make the most of a poor summer.

    Here are just 4 ways that you can make a world of difference in your garden NOW:

    Bell Cloches
    The main picture (above) shows my little garden - nothing is growing especially well, apart from the weeds, a self seeded Ash tree, and the herbs growing under my Victorian Bell Cloche.  The vents are opened during rainy days and closed at night.  The only thing you must remember is to lift the cloche right off your plants on hot sunny days.  Otherwise they'll cook before you've even decided what recipe to use them in!

    Tunnel Cloches
    These do three wonderful things to your veg plot:
    1) Protect your plants from weather
    2) Protect your plants from pests
    3) Increase and maintain higher air temperature

    We sell Easy Tunnels - they're quick, easy and fairly inexpensive.  But you can also make your own - go for it!  Use your plant protection fabric of choics, bamboo hoops and ground pegs iand it will last you for many seasons.

    IPlease note, it is really important to think about ventilation on sunny days.  Humidity can become a problem, leading to mildew and various diseases.  Scorching (if we get enough sun) is a problem too, and if you don't allow pollinating insects at your flowers, of course you won't get any fruit.

    Haxnicks Easy Tunnels

    If you use a tunnel cloche you will ensure that your normal growing season is extended - that means you'll be able to harvest earlier and later in the year than anyone else.

    Micromesh Fabric

    Using mesh in the garden in summer is pretty standard nowadays - and essential if you want to keep the bugs off your edible crops.  But it also makes the perfect shelter - from sun, wind and rain - letting in the right amounts of light, air and moisture.  Micromesh is 0.6mm netting and is ideal if you want to guarantee protection from whitefly and other aphids.

    Micromesh Products include Micromesh Pre Pack Fabric, Micromesh Pest and Wind Barrier, Micromesh Giant Easy Tunnel, Micromesh Raised Bed cover (frame sold separately) and Grower System (see below) Pest Protection Cover.


    If you are lucky enough to own one of these, you will probably be using it more often than usual due to the cool wet summer weather. Keep as many tender, non-indigenous fruit and vegetables (eg Tomatoes, Peppers and Beans) under glass. These plants need as much warmth and sunlight as they can get.
    If you are planning to grow climbing veg in your greenhouse because of the weather, then you might want to think about using a patio planter which you can move outside on sunny days.
    You might want to use a special planter dolly to help you though.  Planters can get pretty heavy with all the soil, canes and fruit (fingers crossed!)

    If you don't have the space or simply can't afford a greenhouse, there are loads of lower cost options, including:

    • Conservatories, Porches or Windowsills
    • Cold Frames
    • Planthouses
    • Growhouses or our Grower System

    If you have any questions about how to deal with a wet summer or any of the methods or products featured in this blog post then please let us know.  Usec the comments section below.  You can also call us, email and write to us - or why not see if your nearest Haxnicks stockist can help?

    We'll cover slugs in the next blog - there are many ways to defeat them, stay tuned to the Haxblog for more top tips...

  • What You Should Have Done Last Week in your vegetable Patch – Or NOW

    Your vegetable patch is calling. Don’t down tools just yet fellow gardeners.  There are still more seeds to plant, still more to harvest, still more to store. Plant another batch of lettuce and rocket, plant radishes and chard. This is still a good time for germinating, but watch out for the slugs.  When it is wet they hide under the leaves of your vegetables. If you feel that the nights are getting a little cold by all means use a poly tunnel this will definitely prolong the season.

    Pick off any caterpillars that are lurking underneath your cabbage or broccoli leaves.  I find it easier and more successful doing this by hand rather than by using some kind of spray.  It doesn’t take that long either.

    I have pulled up all of my onions and garlic.  They have been drying nicely in the sun and now my six year old son and I have tied them into wonderfully French bunches – We feel very professional! You do this by getting a piece of twine about 1m in length, then tie on each onion individually. Make sure that the neck of the onion is tied off tightly, this will keep the onion moist, and help it to last.

    At the moment I am harvesting courgettes, lettuce, rocket, tomatoes, basil, climbing French beans, runner beans, potatoes, raspberries, plums and a few apples. The vegetable patch is going strong!

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