gardening

  • 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.

  • 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.

     

  • Halloween special... Pumpkin Pie anyone?

    From the pictures on Social Media it appears that this was a bumper year for pumpkins and squashes.  I am sure that this was not without its difficulties, particularly keeping them watered in the long hot summer.  Not something we have cause to worry about often!  But the results speak for themselves so I am sure that there are many of you in need of another pumpkin recipe so here it is.

    Pumpkin Pie topped with Pecans

    Some say pumpkins are not that flavoursome however, after spending hours hollowing them out at Halloween you can’t possibly let all that free food go to waste! So I have this recipe for a sweet pumpkin pie that makes a change from what you eat during the year.

    This pie can be eaten hot or cold, and is rather nice with cream, ice cream or crème fresh. Delish!

    Ingredients

    Filling                                                                                           Pastry

    2 eggs                                                                        6oz 170g plain flour

    2 tablespoons soft dark brown sugar                                  2oz 50g icing sugar

    1 can sweetened condensed milk                                         5oz 140g salted butter

    400g pumpkin flesh                                                                  1-2 tbsp. cold water

    50g plain flour

    1/2 teaspoon salt

    1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

    100g pecan halves broken into little bits

    1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

    Preparation time: 25 minutes Cooking Time: 45 minutes Serves: 6-8

    1. Firstly make the pastry: Sieve the flour and icing sugar into a mixing bowl. Rub in the butter until it resembles fine breadcrumbs. Add enough cold water to make a good dough, do not overwork the pastry.
    2. Wrap the dough in cling film and leave in the fridge for 15- 20 minutes.
    3. Grease a 9”, 23cm diameter pie tin and place in fridge.
    4. Turn the oven on to 190°C, gas mark 5.
    5. Now for the filling. Cut the pumpkin flesh into thin slivers or little squares ½ cm x ½ cm.
    6. In a separate bowl place ALL the other ingredients and mix hard with a wooden spoon until you have a gooey consistency.
    7. Add the pumpkin pieces and mix in.
    8. Get the pastry and tin from the fridge. Roll out the pastry to fit the tin then add the filling ingredients - If there is too much mixture you can always bake it in a little ramekin and cook separately.
    9. Lastly, put your pecan nuts into a bowl and bash with the end of the rolling pin until they are the size you want them.  I like little chips.  Then sprinkle them on top of the pie and place the pie into the oven for 35-45 minutes.

    For a printable copy click here Pumpkin Pie topped with Pecans

  • Is this pudding the best thing about summer?

    Summer Pudding or Summer Fruit Pudding is a British dessert traditionally made of sliced white bread, layered in a deep bowl with fruit and fruit juice. The first reference to it as Summer Pudding in print was in 1904, but identical recipes for the much less catchy soiunding 'hydropathic pudding' can be found as far back as 1868.  You can of course still make it with stale bread but for a little extra indulgence my recipe uses brioche to add a buttery softness.

    So, I use strawberries, raspberries and currants Lone-raspberrybecause that's what I grow but if you have been more adventurous and have tayberries, loganberries, cherries or blueberries then these could be used too and have your children proclaiming that their family "make it with Tayberries and its simply the best!"  Nothing like creating a new family classic!

     

    Summer Pudding—using brioche

    This has got to be one of my best recipes; it is so easy and delicious. I make a lot of these in the summer with my children.  They feel so important to have made such a great pudding. You can use a variety of fruits, I always think it is nice to have a few blackcurrants as they are very flavoursome against the gentleness of the raspberries. Of course you can use some fruit that you have frozen to mix with the fruit that is in season.

     

    Preparation: 20 minutes Cooking time: 5 minutes

    Waiting time: min 3 hours Serves: 6 – 8

     

    Ingredients:

    2lbs (900g) soft fruits, raspberries,summer-pudding-with mint-on-top

    strawberries, blackberries, white/black/redcurrants...

    6oz (150g) caster sugar

    6 – 8 slices of Brioche

     

     

    Directions:

    1. Use a soufflé dish or pudding basin; cover the bottom of it and the sides with slices of
      brioche.
    2. Hull* the strawberries.
    3. Put the fruit into a pan with the sugar on a low heat, until the fruit has softened for 4 – 5 minutes.
    4. Take it off the heat and spoon out the fruit leaving most of the juices in the pan.
    5. Cover the top of the fruit with more brioche and pour the remaining juice on top of that.
    6. Put a plate that fits into the bowl on top and weigh it down with some kind of weight.
    7. Put it in the fridge for 3 hours – overnight is best.
    8. Finally, just before you are ready to serve, take it out of the fridge.  Take off the plate and the weight, loosen the edges gently and turn it out onto a serving plate.
    9. Perfect served cold with a splash of cream.

     

    * Hull means to take the stalks off the strawberries.

    For a printable copy click here Summer Pudding 

  • Carrot or Courgette Cake

    Carrot or Courgette Cake

    This is a vegetable cake, it can be nutty by adding the walnuts, or extra yummy by adding the optional cream cheese icing, which is completely delicious. If you have too many courgettes you can even add these instead of carrots.

     Preparation: 20 minutes Cooking time: 50 minutes Serves: 8

    Ingredients:

     

    Cake:

    carrot-or-courgette-cake

    8oz (225g) plain flour

    1 tsp baking powder

    1/2 tsp baking soda

    1 tsp cinnamon

    1/4 tsp salt

    4 floz (110ml) vegetable oil

    6oz (175g) sugar

    2 eggs

    8oz (225g) grated carrots

    4oz (110g) chopped walnuts – optional

    Icing

    4oz (110g) cream cheese

    2oz (55g) soft butter

    1 tsp vanilla flavouring

    10oz (275g icing sugar

    Directions:

    1. Pre-heat the oven to 170°C /325°F/ gas mark 3.
    2. Sieve the flour, baking powder, soda, salt and cinnamon into a bowl. Mix

    3. In another large mixing bowl beat the eggs, add all the sugar and then slowly, little by little add the oil beating all the time. This may look a little odd but worry not as it will look better after you have added the rest of the ingredients.
    4. Add the dry ingredients, carrots and the nuts – if you are having nuts. Mix it all up.
    5. Pour the mixture into your tin and put it in the oven for 45 – 50 minutes, until it is golden brown and has passed the* cake cooked test.
    6. Take it out of the oven, allow it to cool for 20 minutes, before turning it out onto a wire rack.
    7. When it has cooled properly spread your icing on the top.

    Icing

    Cream together the butter, cream cheese and vanilla, when this is soft add in the icing sugar. It should have the consistency of very soft smooth butter.

    Downloadable pdf for you to print here Carrot or Courgette Cake.

    We would love to see your finished cakes.  Post with #Haxnicks

  • Speed Hoe comes top of the class

    The highly respected publication Garden News has conducted a trial of slicing hoes.  According to Geoff Hodge, writer, broadcaster and product guru, The Haxnicks SpeedHoe has come out top of the class.

    The Hoes

    The hoes were tested for quality, comfort, performance and value for money.  The SpeedHoe got 5 stars on all counts.  It was especially noted for how sharp the edges were all round it, greatly increasing the ease of use.  As a result it beat off stiff competition from bigger brands with big price tags to be crowned the best slicing hoe in the trial.  As much as other hoes had their benefits they all scored less in at least one area.  One proud owner commented that it was "the best hoe on earth" and we aren't going to disagree with her.

    Read the full article below to understand more,  Furthermore if you want to make sure you are receiving the best possible gardening advice every week then you can subscribe here Garden News magazine.

    Garden News Magazine review of hoes trial in which the Haxnicks SpeedHoe came top The full article

     

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