• 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 - Broad Bean

    Broad_bean_plant_in_flowerThe Broad Bean is the hardiest and earliest of all the beans to grow yourself.  Like many vegetables, shop bought versions don't do the tasty flavour justice.  They are well worth growing to enjoy fresh from the furry pod.  There many varieties to try including the Red Flowered which has stunning deep red flowers and a beautiful fragrance as well as delicious beans.

    Soil and Aspect

    Grow Broad Beans in heavy soils that are well manured and have good drainage - Manure should be incorporated and dug in during the Autumn.

    Choose an open sunny site, protected from strong winds, especially if growing over the winter.

    Broad Bean Sowing

    Overwintering varieties are sown in late Autumn.  Other varieties can be started off from late winter through to the end of the Spring.

    Sow in double rows in a shallow trench 20 cm wide and 4 cm deep with 20 cm between the seeds.  Alternatively Broad Beans can be started off in Rootrainers in the greenhouse early in the year for planting out in the Spring.


    Broad_bean_pods_on_bushKeep weed free throughout the growing season - a Speedhoe will make short work of weeds between the rows.  If there is a dry spell, give plenty of water throughout the period until the pods start to swell.  Provide support for taller varieties with canes or an Ornamental Frame. When the first pods start to form, pinch out the top 8cm of growth - This will reduce the danger of black fly attack and aid pod formation.

    Harvesting and storage

    Pick the pods when they have become swollen. Do not allow the pods to become too mature because they will become leathery and tough.  Continuous harvesting extends the cropping season.  Broad Beans are best picked and used fresh.  Any surplus beans can be frozen or dried.

    Pest and Diseases

    The most serious problem for the broad bean is black fly - Removing the growing tips when the pods are starting to mature will help to deter this problem.


  • Grow at Home: Spring Cabbages

    Spring cabbage is delicious and tender.  It will be one of the first proper crops you can enjoy in the Spring.
    Autumn is the ideal time to sow - seedlings will over winter and produce heads the following year.

    Where to Grow

    Spring Cabbage is classed as a heavy feeding plant so add plenty of garden compost and/or well rotted farmyard manure your soil before sowing or planting.

    Cabbage takes up a lot of room in your garden needing up to 45-60 cm all round so the available space may dictate your numbers.

    Sowing Spring Cabbage

    Spring cabbages, smaller and sweeter that the summer varieties, can be sown directly into the soil but for the best results Rootrainers will give your seedlings the perfect start.

    Autumn sown Spring Cabbage thrive in a greenhouse or similar environment for planting out under protection after about 4 weeks - for this hardening off period use a Fleece Lantern Cloche or  Easy Fleece Tunnels

    Planting Out

    Spring Cabbage should be planted 45 cm between plants and 45 cm between rows.

    Water plants well before you begin and make a hole in the soil with a dibber or trowel.

    Fill the planting hole with water before planting the seedling - this will help the plant to establish. Push the soil in around the roots firmly bout avoid compacting the soil which can prevent water reaching the roots.

    Keep well watered and weed free - a Speedhoe make this quick and easy - and protect with fleece in extreme weather.

    As Winter approaches earth up the cabbage stems by dragging soil up around the stems to prevent them rocking in the wind.

    Harvesting Spring cabbage

    Spring cabbage has a short harvesting period  and need to be cut before they run to seed.   They have a neater more conical shape than round Summer cabbages.  So they may be ready sooner than they first appear.

    Remove every second cabbage as Spring greens in March.  Leave the remaining plants to heart up for harvesting in April/May.

    Harvest cabbage by cutting the stem with a sharp knife close to soil level. Cutting a deep cross in the stump will give you the bonus of a secondary crops of mini cabbages from the old stem!

    Dispose of the root on the bonfire rather than compost to avoid encouraging club root.

    Pests and diseases

    The main threat to your crop is Cabbage Root Fly. - The best way to it is to keep the flies out by covering your crops with fine mesh - Giant Easy Tunnels are ideal as they have the height to accommodate the growing plants -  making sure it is secure at the edges so nothing can creep underneath.

    Check periodically for small yellow eggs of the Cabbage White Butterfly on the underside of the leaves.  Remove them by brushing them off. Cover the seedlings with fleece or micromesh to keep out cabbage white butterfly

    Pigeons can make quick work of your cabbages - Netting is the answer if you have a pigeon problem.





  • 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


  • 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 of an orphanage in Zambia. 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.  They were 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.  This will make a refreshing and healthy change from maize and cabbage.

    Seed selection at the orphanage

    Zambian children choosing Seeds given by Haxnicks

    What to plant?

    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 the perfect solution for planting 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

    Plant Protection

    Easy net tunnels were just the thing for protecting the seedlings in pots. Micromesh fabric was the ideal solution 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.  It is hoped that eventually peas will clamber up and the children will have great fun harvesting them.

    Seeds appearing in Haxnicks Rootrainers in the Vegetable Garden

    We have Lift off!

    With 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! As a result, 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.  Ultimately, we plan to build a fence around it with a gate and set up an automatic watering system to start.  Now the gardening team have returned, wondering in anticipation which seedlings are appearing.  Hoping the rain doesn't wash them away or suffering from drought and will mature into healthy bumper crops to fuel the children and a market stall business. Lali hopes to be send some updates and let us all know how things are progressing.  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.  In the meantime,

    Happy Gardening,

    Grandpa Haxnicks

  • Grandpa Haxnicks offers advice on Ground Elder

    Over winter it is easy to forget about some of those nasty perennial weeds that lurk beneath the soil. One of the most rampant, vigorous and downright stubborn of these is ground elder.  Also known as gout weed, bishop weed and most appropriately jump about. Left unchecked, it will spread from one tiny corner of the garden.  It will invade all useful growing space by spreading its network of underground stems (rhizomes). In an alien like fashion it can regenerate into a new plant from just a tiny fragment of those underground stems.

    Ground Elder in Garden Borders

    This weed has driven my friend The Potty gardener...well...completely potty. She was living in a rented property where ground elder has been able to take a firm hold.  as a result, she has turned to gardening in pots, but.  Howevr, there are other alternatives.  I am often asked for advice on beating the evil weed so I thought that it would be good to share that advice with you.

    My advice...

    For a serious invasion of ground elder you will need time, patience and lots of black polythene!

    Dig up any cultivated plants in the area and gently tease out any ground elder rhizomes from their roots. Do not put the weeds in the compost!

    Replant your plants in pots or clear soil

    Dig out the ground elder. You will need to dig to a depth of about 2 foot and be very thorough, making sure that you get out every last scrap of those rampant rhizomes. A second digging over is often required a few weeks later to catch the ones that you missed.

    The Roots of Ground Elders

    Alternatively you can cover the area with black polythene to starve the ground elder of light.  This will take at least a year and possibly two. A few years ago I helped friends clear a large patch of ground about 12ft square. The digging took us a few weeks and because they couldn't bare to stare at black polythene for two years we seeded the area with grass and mowed it regularly which seemed to work very well.

    You can, of course turn to a glyphosphate weedkiller, but for a large patch of ground that can be expensive, so I tend to advise that you use it for small areas or to keep on top of any new growth after an initial clearing.

    There is one saving grace for this pesky perennial, that it is edible. The young leaves are slightly nutty and can be used in a salad or cooked in butter like spinach. So if you can't beat it, eat it!

    Goodbye for now,
    Grandpa Haxnicks

  • Madeleine's Corner: Glorious English Summer

    Haxnicks Garden Products can be brought online

    Glorious English Summer – well it is one minute and then not the next. One is never sure whether to water the garden or will the Good Lord do it for you? Just make sure if you can help it that it is neither feast nor famine. Lack of water means that your crops such as spinach and lettuce bolt: so water evenly. Anyhow, Last week there was an awful lot of weeding to be done, if you don’t do it the weeds take all the energy from the soil and your peas turn out more like pinheads, and your carrots will never grow. Which reminds me thin your carrots, I know this seems harsh but it’s worth it. Thin them to 1 every 2” 5cm.

    I use Haxnicks Speedhoe for saving energy and time weeding, and Haxnicks Micromesh to protect Carrots from Carrot Fly (especially important when thinning out as the Carrot Fly will no doubt get a whiff off the seedlings that have been removed).

    Cover any berries you have with netting, Bamboo Fruit Cages or rig up some Birdscare or old CD’s so that the birds don’t beat you to the crop, once they discover them there won’t be any left for you. Pick and eat Rhubarb, soft fruits, lettuces, broad beans and asparagus, pick some of the small beetroot leaves for a salad. Take the last of your plants to be planted outside and get them in the vegetable patch. Sow another batch of lettuce (if you do this monthly you will get lettuces all year round), rocket and radishes.

  • Growing Leeks - The Haxnicks Way

    Growing Leeks

    The leek is an unique vegetable which belongs to the allium family and is also a relative of the onion.

    Growing leeks is often overlooked when planting as vegetables.  However, they are the most undemanding and one of the most rewarding vegetables that you can plant. The plants are exceptionally easy to raise and are relatively pest free as well as not minding cold conditions.

    The leek is usually grown in the cooler part of the year and prefers a lightly limed soil. Leeks are usually grown alongside carrots, onions, garlic, parsnips and other root crops, but rotation is important and where possible leeks and onions should not be grown on the same patch for at least three years.

    The leek grows slowly and steadily over a relatively long period of time (4 to 6 months) and so the sooner the seeds are sown the larger the leeks will grow. In gardens leeks are usually transplanted from seed beds when they reach a length of 15 – 17cm and are as thick as a pencil (about 3 months of growth).


    1. Fill a Slim (Rannoch) Rootrainer Tray with good quality peat free compost
    2. Sow the seeds thinly into each cell in at the earliest mid-February/March (about 4 to six seeds in each cell)
    3. Cover the tray with the clear propagating lid
    4. Leave to germinate in a warm but not too warm place
    5. Remove lid once plants have emerged and use as a drip tray under the tray and grow on in good light

    Once the plants are ready, plant out into a deep, rich well composted and moist soil.

    Make 15cm deep holes with a garden stake and place the seedling into the hole. Don’t close the hole with soil but rather water the plant, which will close the hole with the right amount of soil.

    As the leeks mature mound up the soil to keep the shanks blanched white.

    Watering of the young plants is vital until they are well established and weeding is just as essential.

    Growing_Leeks_bed_being_hoed_with_SpeedHoeLeeks are harvested by first loosening the plant with a fork pushed vertically downwards several inches from the row and then they can be pulled out with no damage and not too much soil disturbance.

    We like to end on a Tip and so why not use our Speedhoe to keep those weeds down. Speedhoe is a well recognised easy and chemical free way to keep vegetable patches free of weeds.

  • Amateur Gardening review for Speedhoe

    Amateur gardener Julia Heaton tries out the Haxnicks Speedhoe...
    Read how she got on in the attached article.
    Click on the article to enlarge it.

    Amateur gardener_Haxnicks' Speedhoe in the Press

    As the 'Amateur Gardener' found out, the amazing SpeedHoe™ is strong and easy to use.  Therefore, it will soon become your best friend in the fight against weeds, or heavy lumpy soil. With several innovative design features, SpeedHoe™ outperforms every other garden hoe on the market. Most imprtantly, it's clever, ergonomic design, the only hard push needed is to find a garden hoe that is more effective at ploughing through the soil and taking out the weeds.

    In this paragraph, I’m going to discuss a few reasons why practice is important to mastering skills. Firstly, the only way to truly learn a skill is by actually doing what you’ll have to do in the real world. Secondly, I think practice can be a fun way of putting in the necessary hours. There are, however, some people who will disagree. Thirdly, and most importantly, it is said that people tend to remember only 10-20% of what they read or hear. Moreover, that number rises to as much as 90% when you put theory to practice. In conclusion, following up explanation with practice is key to mastering a skill.

    As the 'Amateur Gardener' found out, the amazing SpeedHoe™ is strong and easy to use.  Therefore, it will soon become your best friend in the fight against weeds, or heavy lumpy soil. With several innovative design features, SpeedHoe™ outperforms every other garden hoe on the market. Most imprtantly, it's clever, ergonomic design, the only hard push needed is to find a garden hoe that is more effective at ploughing through the soil and taking out the weeds. 
  • The Amazing SpeedHoe™

    Amazing_SpeedHoe™_from_HaxnicksThe amazing SpeedHoe™, the latest innovation from plant protection specialists, Haxnicks, is the gardener’s new best friend in the fight against weeds. It has a unique multi-blade design and angled head/.  This produces a powerful cutting and chopping action with the minimum of effort.

    The SpeedHoe’s angled head has sharp blades on the front, rear and sides.  These create a powerful, strong cutting action beneath the earth’s surface.  This works in whichever direction it moves in: pushed away or pulled back. As a result, there’s no need to turn the blade when using it.  Another benefit is the compact head.  This makes it efficient and easy to manoeuvre between plants of all sizes, keeping them safe from accidental damage.

    The SpeedHoe’s long handle gives a much greater reach.  It is positioned at an angle ergonomically designed for maximum working comfort, reducing the need for bending and thus minimizing potential aches and strains. Large areas of weed or heavy, lumpy soil can be worked over quickly and with little effort.  This helps to create the best possible growing conditions for plants in beds and borders.

    To see the amazing SpeedHoe™ in action, a short informative video can be viewed on YouTube, Click here SpeedHoe Video 

    Haxnicks SpeedHoe™  is available online or from all good garden centres .

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