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.

     

  • Salad anyone?

    We have returned back to a very grey and rainy England with not much hope for our little shoots after slight neglect for a week. However, we were greeted with huge shoots bursting to get out of their Rootrainers!  Seems like time to get the husband out building the Haxnicks Raised Bed with it’s very handy Raised Bed Polythene Cover to keep those courgettes, cucumbers and tomatoes growing upwards and outwards into something edible for my plate.

    Haxnicks Raised Bed with polythene cover on and plants inside I have plants now in my Raised Bed

    Most of all, the joy of this Raised Bed is that you construct and locate it wherever you wish, so for convenience it is sitting right outside our kitchen garden door.  As much as I love my garden who wants to traipse to the end of it to pick their veggies!  We have added a variety of herbs too - why not!

     Haxnicks Raised Bed with polythene cover off and salad plants showing  

    Pull back the polythene cover for easiy watering and as you can see we have a little bed of very healthy young plants which we hope to harvest sometime in July.  We will be back in July with an update!

    Haxnicks Raised Bed with polythene cover off and slightly larger salad plants inside Really growing now - here comes summer!
  • Madeleine's Garden 12th February

    Winter jobs in the Garden

    Today was a beautiful sunny day here on the Wiltshire/Dorset border.

    We are spoiled by having such lovely warm houses, that going outside can seem a little daunting as it is so cold. So I wrapped up warmly - woolly hat and all, and ventured into 2°.

    Finally my two little garden gnomes saw light as I pruned the raspberry canes down to about 3 inches high and got rid of any dead ones and unwanted weeds. Maybe tomorrow I will spread some manure around their bases to give them a little warmth and nourishment – The raspberries not the gnomes!

    I'm never quite sure how garden gnomes actually find their way into a garden.... they are never invited, they just seem to turn up.  Maybe someone brought them here as a birthday surprise one year, sneaked them in and then forgot to say anything. Anyway, it doesn't seem very fair to get rid of them just because I didn't choose them myself.

    Before                                                                   

    Before the Clearing of Haxnicks Garden

    After 

    After the Clearing of Haxnicks Garden

    I have decided to plant a beech hedge along our 'drive to be', ready for when we can start to use it. I always admire people who can think in advance. So I bought 30 plants from a mail order catalogue. They arrived and this is the perfect time of year to plant them. Hedging and trees like to be planted when they are dormant during the winter months.

    Haxnicks Garden Products can be brought online

    Lastly I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw that some of the sweet pea and tomato seeds that I had sown less than 2 weeks ago were appearing. Doesn’t time fly.

    Preparing the Garden for Spring with Haxnicks Rootrainers     First signs of Spring plants growing from Seeds in Haxnicks Rootrainers

  • Madeleine's garden 30th Jan 2018

    30th January – Mending fences and sowing the first of the seeds – Tomatoes, Sweet Peas and Delphiniums.

    Well I still haven’t pruned the raspberries. But with the help of my university student son who was anxious to earn a few pennies before returning to university, we mended the fence. He hammered the sledge hammer and I held the post. I was a little too close and received a thump on the collar bone from the hammer, thank goodness I was alright and my son was truly concerned and apologetic.

    This morning was beautiful and I managed to sow the tomato seeds, some delphinium seeds and sweet peas. I have a large windowsill in our house so have brought them all inside so that they can germinate. They all need roughly 15-20 degrees. I have often been tempted to sow tomatoes earlier and it never pays off so the end of January is an ideal time to start.

    Seeds emerging from Haxnicks Rootrainers

     

     

  • Growing Courgettes in a Small Space

    After potatoes, courgettes (or zucchini if you’re across the pond), are one of the easiest and most satisfying vegetables to grow. Fast emerging seeds rapidly turn into triffid sized monsters with tropical looking flowers. Before you know it, you have a continuous supply of shiny green (or yellow) veg that can be included in every conceivable recipe from stews to salads, stir-fries to cakes. Pick a handful, turn your back and more will emerge in just a few days, and there are always the ones that get away. Those carefully camouflaged courgettes that lurk under the shady green canopy catch me out every year and before I know it I have a monster marrow to wrestle with.

    If you think you don’t have space to grow courgettes, then think again. If you think you don’t have enough space to grow courgettes in pots or bags, then think again. If you think what you buy in a supermarket tastes the same as a home-grown courgette, then think again. Or just stop thinking and grow some! It is remarkable that what I consider to be one of the hungriest, thirstiest vegetables to grow can be sustained in a very small growing space with the right care and attention. So, even if your only outside space is a balcony or a front doorstep you can still have a summer-long crop of deliciously nutty home-grown courgettes.

    Haxnicks Garden Products can be brought online

    You can plant up to 3 courgette plants in just one of our Haxnicks veg planters. It seems like a lot, considering how huge they will grow.  The key to success is a good multipurpose compost, lots of water and nutrition. I use liquid Growmore to feed my courgettes, but any good liquid fertiliser will do the trick. A weekly dose seems to be sustaining them well. These particular plants are already dishing out a steady crop. Courgettes require lots of water, their huge leaves quickly droop if you haven't given them enough, so keep on top of watering.

    Growing Courgettes in your Garden with Haxnicks Garden Products

    I grew my tropical looking giants from seed in Rootrainers on a warm windowsill back in February.

    I transplanted them into pots briefly until they had 2 pairs of leaves and a good strong stem meaning that they were strong enough to go out in the greenhouse and cope with the chilly nights. It was a little bit risky putting them out so early, but as I was growing some in time for Chelsea Flower show they had to be coaxed to magnificence in good time!

    Grandpa Haxnicks

     

     

  • The Potty Gardener skips into her Sunbubble

    Haxnicks Garden Products can be brought onlineSome very exciting news…this weekend the Sun came out, and so did my brand new Sunbubble! Unfortunately it is now drizzling with rain again, but whatever endorphins were released whilst soaking up the sun in my Sunbubble are still coursing through my veins resulting in a Spring-like enthusiasm for the gardening year ahead. The Sunbubble was very quick to put up with just a little bit of help from Grandpa Haxnicks. I had a choice of two sightings for this fabulous pop up greenhouse. The first was at the bottom of our garden, a lovely sunny spot, sheltered from the worst of the prevailing wind. I skipped back and forth to this spot a few times trying out this potential journey from house to greenhouse.

    Haxnicks' Potty Gardener's Wellington Boots stuck in the Mud

    Unfortunately, as I soon discovered, well-trodden, sodden clay becomes quite hard to skip on without losing one or both of your wellies!   So, in order to be able to skip with spring-like enthusiasm to my Sunbubble, whilst at the same time maintaining my dignity, my lawn and my wellies it was clear that the bottom of the garden was not the spot for it.

    The Haxnicks Sunbubble

    The next best place to sight it was on the gravel next to the chicken run and conveniently close to the garden shed. So up it popped in this spot. There was the small inconvenience of drilling into the hard-core below the gravel to secure it in place, but luckily Grandpa Haxnicks is quite amenable when it comes to small inconveniences (such as me!). The Chickens had quite a lot to say about this alien invasion of their view but I am certain that they will be thrilled when they discover that I intend to fill it with all sorts of juicy greens. It's just as well that the Sunbubble has a zipped doorway to keep the greedy chooks out!

    The Haxnicks Rootrainers Racking StationI have since skipped back and forth many times to my exciting new growing space with both wellies firmly on foot and dignity intact. I have also skipped into my local garden centre for compost, seeds, Rootrainers and a Rootrainers Racking Station to keep things tidy and ensure that I will be making the most of the space in the Sunbubble. Then I skipped to the local recycling centre where I have been keeping my eyes peeled (Ouch ) for useful pots and planters. This time I struck lucky and picked up a pair of terracotta planters destined for the skip.....and guess what?... I skipped home with them!

  • 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!

  • 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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