Original Soft-Tie

  • Soft-Tie; soft on plants, strong on the Job

    Haxnicks Original Soft-TieIntroducing SoftTie

    In every season of the gardening year there are things that need tying back or supporting.  However, it doesn’t matter how good your plant supports are if the tie used is not appropriate for the job. The award-winning Haxnicks Soft-Tie comes in two widths to ensure that plants stems benefit from the right amount of cushioning, so delicate stems are not bruised or broken.

    Soft-Tie has an inner core of galvanised steel wire which gives it its strength.  While its outer coating of a unique, UV-stabilised rubber compound gently cushions and protects plant stems from damage. It is easy to secure with just a twist.  As a result there is no need for messy balls of string and fiddly knots.  Cutting to length is easy with a sturdy pair of scissors.

    When plants grow the string usually has to be untied and retied.  Not with Soft Tie.  A couple of quick twists and the new support position is in place.  Put a twist between the support and the stem and you have a ready-made spacer to prevent damage from chafing. Most noteworthy is that Soft-Tie does not rot.  So it lasts much longer than regular ties and it can be washed and re-used. Its natural green colour allows it to blend with foliage making it as unobtrusive as possible.

    Original Soft-Tie

    With a 7mm diameter and a slightly thicker steel core, the Original Soft-Tie  is the perfect choice for tying up plants that are heavily-laden with growing crops, or for tying up the thicker stems of trees, shrubs, roses, large climbers and fruit bushes. With its superior cushioning and strength, it’s a good choice for any plants in exposed spots.  It will keep them secure and protect from  wind damage.

    Slim Soft-Tie

    Slim Soft-Tie  is half the width of Original Soft-Tie, only 3.5mm in diameter, and is designed for use with the thinner, more delicate stems of climbing annuals, young vegetables and shrubs, tall perennials and houseplants.

    It really is an essential bit of kit for gardeners.  Use Soft-Tie for many other things around the home -too.  Once you start using it you will come up with masses of uses - check out the Soft-Tie video for inspiration.  I'm sure it will make you smile!

  • The Potty gardener growing peas in containers

    Haxnicks Garden Products can be brought online

    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!

    Haxnicks Garden Products can be brought online

    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!

  • Madeleine's Corner: Harvesting and Storing

    I found that last week I spent a huge amount of my time harvesting my crops, this is one of the most prolific times of the year everything is shouting ‘I’m ready pick me, eat me, store me!’ So by now your redcurrants, blackcurrants and possibly gooseberries should be harvested.

    Haxnicks Garden Products can be brought onlineYou need to pull up any lettuces or rocket that has bolted and replace them by planting out another batch to keep you going through the summer. Some carrots/beetroot may be ready, when they are small they are so sweet and delicious, if you are going to cook them, cook them briefly and the flavour that you get from them will be so much better. You can also use the small beetroot leaves for salads.

    Keep anything you have in the greenhouse well watered, although limp plants can come back to life after being watered. Watering in the evening is the best time to water as it gives the plants the whole night in which to soak it up. Last week I made, strawberry sorbet with mint, gooseberry fool, and I froze the majority of my broad beans – otherwise they were going to get too big and bitter.

    Haxnicks Garden Products can be brought online

    This is a fantastic time of year, the time when all gardeners want to show off their years work, now is the time to make yummy broad bean salads, have warm new potatoes, and summer puddings galore. Weed your patches. Harvest your crops, eat them, share them or store them.

    Storing – Blanch any peas or beans and put them in the deep freeze. Freeze any berries you don’t have time to eat. You can also freeze elderflowers to make elderflower cordial later on in the summer.

    Look at your tomatoes and check that they haven’t sprouted any extra branches; otherwise all the energy into making tomatoes will go into making more leaves. So, you do this by looking at the main stem of the tomato, branches should come off that, but only 1 branch. If there are two or more, pinch out the inner branches with your thumb and index finger. Also make sure that the tomato is well secured to the plant support, by using Haxnicks SoftTie.

    I have had great problems with finding more spinach to sow as it is not readily available like a lot of herbs or tomato seeds are. This is a good time to sow more of these to see you into the autumn. How about another batch of radishes?

    Go to the garden centre and see what tickles your fancy in the way of seeds, because it would be so nice to have some winter and spring crops too.

  • Pippa Greenwood - Q&A - Part I

    We are delighted to welcome Pippa Greenwood to our Blog and to start things off we have a small Q&A session. Please feel free to pose your own questions at the bottom of this list and we'll  get our panel of experts to help answer them.

    Q: I have noticed a brown, powdery substance on the under surface of the leaves on my plums and something rather similar on my roses; is this rust?
    A: Yes indeed! Rusts, of all the diseases, are probably those which thrive and spread particularly well when the air is moist and at this time of year they often become a real problem. I have also rust on the foliage of garlic this year. You should ensure that you collect up and compost, bin or burn all the infected leaves on a regular basis as this will help to decrease the likelihood of them spreading and over-wintering successfully. Generally rust on a plant such as plum or willow is unlikely to have any significant effect on the tree’s vigour in the long term, and so on these plants I would be less inclined to worry.

    However, on things like roses, they can have quite a weakening effect after a while and so I would suggest you may like to consider spraying the plants, as well as carrying out routine clean ups. I rely on purely cultural techniques – keeping the rose well pruned, avoiding wetting the foliage and prompt clearing up if rust appears

    Q: The garden that I have recently taken on seems to have more nettles and docks in it than anything else. What can I do?
    A: If you are happy to use chemicals, I suggest that you choose one based on glyphosate. These chemicals are translocated and that means they will be carried down from the foliage that you spray into the entire root system and so you should find that with one application now and then perhaps another one early next year, you can clear the ground completely. If you don’t want to use chemicals then I suggest you cut back as much of the foliage as you can manually and then cover the soil with old carpet. This will prevent light from getting through to the plants and smother them, so gradually weakening them. You should find that this will help to kill off the majority of the weed growth, although you may still need to dig out some by hand. Do be wary because both nettles and docks have extremely pernicious underground parts, which means that even a small section left in the soil has the ability to root and form a new plant. Whatever you do, do not incorporate the underground parts of either of these weeds into the compost heap.

    Q: My apple is showing signs of slight dieback and I have noticed similar problems on the mountain ash or rowan tree. The dieback seems to be associated with roughened patches on the bark; is there anything I can do?
    A: This sounds like apple canker, a fungal problem which is quite common and which you may also find on pear trees. The cankers that form start to ring the infected stems or branches and as a result, growth becomes poor and spindly and if the canker rings the branch entirely then everything beyond that point will die back. You should take action promptly because this fungus is likely to spread fairly effectively and I suggest that you prune out all the infected limbs, taking the branches back to perfectly healthy growth and to a suitable outward facing spur or bud. If the canker is present on the main stem or trunk of the tree, then obviously you cannot cut this out and I would suggest that you take a really sharp knife and attempt to scoop out the entire cankered area, once more cutting back to really clean and healthy looking wood.

    Q: How can I go about controlling slugs and vine weevils without using chemicals?

    A: Both these pests do have some natural predators in the garden, including ground beetles, so you should do everything you can to encourage these.

    In addition, I suggest you attempt to use some of the biological controls. There is a nematode-based control which is suitable for use against slugs and another, quite different nematode which you can use to control vine weevil grubs. Sadly these are not available in garden centres because, as they are living organisms, they would not survive life in a garden centre for long, but you can buy them from mail order suppliers and these should be delivered promptly, ready for you to use.

    In both cases they result in the pest being poisoned without posing any threat to other creates. There are several different suppliers of biological controls.

    Q: How can I control the algae which is spoiling my patio area?
    A: Algae usually builds up because the surface is moist for prolonged periods, so the first thing you should do is to try and find out why this is happening. Certainly check nearby guttering and drainpipes to ensure that there is nothing leaking onto your patio. In addition if the area is quite heavily shaded or gets a lot of run off when it rains from nearby trees, then this too could be involved. There are lots of proprietary patio cleaners on the market which you can use, but do check that the one you choose is safe for use in the vicinity of plants. If you do not want to use any chemicals as such, then quite often, provided you can sort out the source of the excess moisture, you will find that scrubbing the surface of the paving with a stiff brush or yard broom may be sufficient to dislodge the algae. Some people also treat the area with small quantities of salt and find that this works well, although again you must take caution if there are plants nearby.

    Q: Can you suggest a few shrubs that would be looking good in my garden in early September?
    A: There are lots of things which should be particularly attractive, including potentillas, Perovskia, Indigofera, hypericums, hydrangeas, fuchsias, Hibiscus syriacus, Buddleja davidii, Caryopteris, Ceratostigma, vincas, hebes and Abelia grandiflora. In fact, if you pay a visit to your local garden centre at this time of year, you can be sure that many of the shrubs which are looking particularly good at that time of year, will be prominently displayed, so you have got the pick of the bunch and of course you have also chosen a perfect time for planting.

    Q: Help! My pond is now bright green and packed full of what my neighbour says is blanket weed, is there anything I can do?
    A: If your pond has become green and full of a tangled mass of strands of that common problem blanket weed it will not only look awful but may also entangle fish or wildlife as they swim. I find the best method of control is to regularly use a rake or a stick to remove the blanket weed, pulling it out of the pond and composting it or binning it if you do not have a compost bin.Make sure you leave the mass of weed on the side of the pond, and trailing in to it slightly for a few days before composting so that pond life can escape back to the pond!

    Q: This year I grew some bedding plants from seed, they germinated OK, but many were massively tall, any clues?
    A: As bedding plants grow it is essential to pinch out the growing tips on the shoots. Doing this helps to encourage plenty of side shoots to develop so creating good bushy, compact plants. This is easily done using your forefinger and thumb.

    Q: I planted some shrubs and a few trees in my new garden in early spring, but am now scared they won’t thrive, please can you help?
    A: Trees and shrubs which were planted earlier this year will need extra care and attention right now as their roots will not have grown out into the soil to any great extent and because the weather is a lot warmer and drier they could easily suffer from drought. Give regular drenchings of water applied in early evening for best effect. Once the soil is thoroughly wetted, if you have not already done so, apply a 5-7.5cm (2-3in) deep mulch over the entire root area and this will help to preserve water.

    Q: I want to grow strawberries but my first attempts in my other garden were regularly wrecked by birds and slugs, any suggestions?
    A: To keep slugs and snails away from the developing fruits your really should place mats or straw under developing strawberries – this way you can drastically reduce the damage done by slugs or snails without having to use chemicals. Try suspending old CD’s close to the crop and using other bird scaring devices, but for me the only fool proof way is to protect the crop under nets, the easiest to use are the pull-out mini tunnels covered in fine green mesh as these are easy to remove and replace for harvesting.

    And thank you Pippa a bonus question...

    Q: My peach has peach leaf curl disease, can it be saved?
    A: Definitely ! First you should pick off the infected swollen and reddish purple leaves which develop on peaches, nectarines and edible and ornamental almonds. These are caused by the peach leaf curl fungus (Taphrina deformans) and removing them promptly reduces the risk of the problem spreading. A feed then helps the plant perk up ans it should be able to produce a second flush of clean, new foliage. Once the plant is clean again, often helped by spraying with a copper based fungicide according to the instructions, try covering it with an open-sided clear polythene shelter between leaf fall and spring to reduce the risk of spores landing.

  • Growing Tomatoes - Make it a New Year Resolution

    Growing Tomatoes with Haxnicks Tomato Patio PlanterThe snow is fresh and the climate unseasonally cold. We should be promoting Frost protection and ideas to keep your plants and seedlings warm... But let's look at a more cheery topic.

    The tomato is a delicate or tender perennial which is grown as an annual and when raised in your greenhouse is very successful.

    One of the best reasons for growing your own tomatoes is that you can be sure that they are chemical spray free as well as the fact that a greenhouse tomato tastes far better than any supermarket product, firstly because it is picked and eaten immediately while it is warm (refrigerated tomatoes become bland in taste and secondly the flavour is better because it does not have to travel – something a tomato does not like.

    There are over 3 000 tomato varieties to choose from and you should ensure that you grow several different varieties which will not only add interest but also ensure against an inferior crop from one variety. I have listed a few that you might like to try - “Gardener’s Delight” is probably the best variety for flavour, yield, early results and easy growing. One of the best cherry varieties is “Sweet 100” and if you want a small yellow tomato then go for “Sunbelle”. “Shirley” is a good red normal size tomato variety which is disease resistant and “Big Boy” is a large red, beefsteak tomato with very few seeds which is ideal for cooking. “Brandy Wine”, another beefsteak variety has an amazing flavour.

    Tomato plants can be bought at garden centres but many people prefer the satisfaction and taste that you get with growing your own. Plants that have been on display for any length of time become affected by too much heat and little or no light. It is much more rewarding to raise your own from seed. Remember that if you are going to raise 3 or 4 different varieties deep modular, hinged opening cell trays like Rootrainers are extremely useful as they are both space and time saving.

    Tomato seed is sown in a propagator and a temperature of 60°- 65°F is needed for successful germination. If you have a heated greenhouse seed can be sown in late December for planting out in late February or early March for a May/June crop. Most gardeners only have cold houses and then seed should be sown in a propagator in early March and planted out late April for a July crop.

    1. Fill the Rootrainers with the peat free compost
    2. Sow the seeds in late February for an early crop and 4 weeks later for the main crop
    3. Cover the Rootrainer tray with the clear propagating lid and leave in a warm area till seeds have germinated
    4. Remove lid and use under tray as water catcher once plants get tall

    There is no need to prick out plants until you are ready to plant them in their fruiting positions. We offer two types of Patio Planters especially designed for Tomatoes and also offer a Cane Support Planter - New in 2010.

    Soft-tie is the ultimate garden tie for delicate plants like Tomatoes and can be reused again and again.

    Feed once a week with a weak solution of liquid feed. You stand a better chance keeping Tomatoes in a Greenhouse or why not make use of the New Haxnicks Grower System a Garden Tunnel designed for taller plants.

    Pick your Tomatoes when they are just turning red and as a tip if it appears that your tomatoes are never going to ripen, pick them and place them in a dark place with a single red tomato. The other will soon get the message.

  • Haxnicks Goes to Chelsea

    For the first time Haxnicks will be appearing at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2009.Haxnicks at the 2009 RHS Chelsea Flower ShowWe will be selling Rootrainers, Patio Planters, Canetoppers and Soft-tie off the stand, and offering mail order delivery on the rest of the Haxnicks product range. Also there is a special show discount of 15% on all payments taken at the stall.

    Come and find us at Stall EA110 to buy, order, or just to have a chat!

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