Vegetable Patio Planters

  • 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

  • How to Protect Carrots from Carrot Fly

    If you have yet to experience that awful sinking feeling of lifting carrot after carrot riddled with dark crevices, tunnelled out by the dreaded carrot fly larvae, then consider yourself lucky. But for those of you that have, fear not! Haxnicks have been fighting various garden pests for over 20 years, and have picked up a few tricks along the way...

    How to protect your Carrots from Carrot Fly with Haxnicks
    Image courtesy of www.morguefile.com

    But first... some facts about carrot fly:

    • Carrot fly also affects other vegetables in the parsley family, such as Parsnip, Celery, Dill, Coriander, Fennel and Celeriac
    • They are attracted to the smell of bruised foliage
    • The larvae that damage the roots can continue to feed through the autumn into winter, moving between plants
    • The adult carrot fly is approximately 9mm long.  It is a slender, metallic, greenish-black fly with yellow legs and head. Larvae are creamy white, tapering maggots

    How can you tell if your carrots are infected? - Check for reddening of the foliage and stunted growth

     

    So now we know a little bit about the pest itself, we can look at some of the ways which we can protect our crops from infestations:

    1.  Make sure to avoid using previously infested ground. Carrot fly larvae are capable of surviving through the winter, so avoid re-sowing any vegetable from the Parsley family (see above)
    2. Avoid sowing during the main egg-laying periods, which are (for most parts of the UK): mid-April to the end of May & Mid-July to the end of August.
    3. Sow disease and pest resistant varieties such as Fly Away F1 and Resistafly F1, available from garden centres and online seed suppliers.
    4. Erect a fine-mesh barrier at the time of sowing – at least 70cm high. Check out our Micromesh Pest & Wind Barrier which will work for containers and open ground.  Or a Micromesh Tunnel - with 0.6mm netting it will keep the Carrot Fly from getting to your precious crop.
    5. Sow thinly so as to avoid ‘thinning out’, releasing the smell of bruised foliage
    6. Thin out or harvest on a dry evening with no wind – or use scissors so that no bruising of foliage occurs
    7. Try companion planting - growing varieties of pungent Rosemary, Sage or Marigold as a deterrent/’smokescreen’
    8. Grow your carrots in planters taller than 70cm - for example the Haxnicks Oxford fabric planter or Carrot Patio Planters
    9. Lift main carrot crops by Winter, especially if any are infected – don’t leave them in the ground to serve as food for overwintering larvae.

    Thinning out tip: Use scissors to avoid bruising the foliage (and releasing the carrot-fly attracting scent)

    To find out more about carrot fly, and the other pests that may arrive in your garden check out Pippa Greenwood's excellent RHS book for plant by plant advice on Pests and Diseases

    Have you any experience of carrot fly damage? What do you think went wrong? Please let us know your thoughts using the comments section below.

  • Self Watering Tower garden

    The Self Watering Tower Garden is self watering. That's right!  Self watering!

    Haxnicks Self Watering Tower Garden water reservoir

    It does what it says on the tin, or would do if it came in a tin.  But why is this important when actually, plants love water and I quite like watering them too?  Don’t know about you, but for me it’s a calming activity during which I contemplate life, the universe and beyond.   This watering zen is the ‘ideal’ though and some weeks the ‘ideal’ is as rare as a blue rose.  The plants will survive my inattention.  The rub is that not only do plants love water but more than this they like regular water.  Otherwise it can have a drastic effect on their output.  Who hasn’t taken their eye off the ball and ended up with split tomatoes?

    Cue the Haxnicks Self Watering Tower Garden . So on those weeks when the cat needs the vet, the kids need new shoes and the fridge definitely needs a clean out the ingenious wick is doing what you can’t and keeping your plants happy and healthy.  No more coming back to dejected looking plants and a guilty conscience. Problem solved.

    Haxnicks Self Watering Tower Garden with Vigoroot pots Self Watering Tower Garden with Vigoroot pots

    My Tower Garden is in its second year and the Vigoroot pots can be washed at the end of the season and stored flat by the organised gardener.  I am not an organised gardener though (must have been one of those weeks) so I had just emptied them and stored in the shed.  A quick brush off left them looking as good as new though and I was able to start planting.

    Not only does it solve your watering issues but it also allows you to grow a staggering amount of plants in a very small area.  My garden is large but with building work about to start most of it is off limits for this season.  The 3 layers allow me to have 12 x 5L pots  in a tiny space.  Each layer has 4 Vigoroot pots which air-prune the roots to give healthier plants with better roots that lead to higher yields.

     

     

    Three Layers:

    Haxnicks Self Watering Tower Garden with strawberries, herbs and tomatoes Fully planted!

    I won't even have to worry about watering when I go away for a week's holiday in summer which is a bonus. All that is left to do now  is to make sure that the water reservoirs are full once a week and then and wait to pick my very first crop.   Might just have to plan a nice bruschetta recipe for all those glorious tomatoes...

  • Growing early broad beans, from leggy to luscious

    How to Grow Broad Beans with Vigoroot Pots, Growlite Coir and Water Saucers

    Now I would like to share with you a new and rather different method of growing vegetables and in this case broad beans. I have been experimenting with air-pruning pots, coir growing mediums and self-watering systems for many years, and it gives me great pleasure to see our Haxnicks Vigoroot Pots, Growlite and Water Saucers now on the market and available for anyone to use.

    This very simple demonstration shows how to use these three products to grow some broad beans (an old favourite of mine best eaten smothered in melted butter).

    I sowed the beans in December, which is really much too early for broad beans.  I wanted to see just how early the beans would grow if kept permanently indoors on large, bright windowsills (a bit of an experiment in itself).

    Broad Beans growing in Haxnicks Vigoroot Pots

    The beans were germinated in Haxnicks Growlite. They were then potted on in Growlite which is a coir based growing medium that I have experimented with, developed and perfected over roughly the past 8 years. It has excellent water retention as well as good drainage and although it naturally contains only low levels of nutrients it can hold other added nutrients well and allows easy absorption by plant roots. Growlite includes various organic nutrients including seaweed and will feed a wide variety of plants during the first 8-10 weeks of their life. After this I simply add a little organic plant food on a regular basis to the water I give them.

    Haxnicks Water Saucers making watering a doddle

    We make the Vigoroot pots from recycled polypropylene. The density of the fabric is designed to air-prune the roots of the plants. As the tips of the roots grow into the fabric, their tips die off (air-pruning), which stimulates the plant to grow more roots from its core, and these roots become more fibrous and are able to absorb more nutrients. The result is that the plants don’t get ‘root-bound’ and don’t need to be potted-on into larger pots, but grow larger, faster and healthier, producing more abundant crops. Vigoroot Pots work especially well for fruit trees and fruit bushes as well as flowers, herbs and vegetables.

    Haxnicks Water Saucers showing their wicks

    The kit

    I used the new Haxnicks Water Saucers as a permanent watering and feeding system for the bean plants. Each Water Saucer comes with a capillary wick that is pushed up into the middle of the Vigoroot pot (cut a small hole first), and the plant then draws up the water through the Growlite and capillary wick from the water saucer, which needs topping up every few weeks. After the first two months I started adding a little Maxicrop plant food to the water. Obviously you can choose your plant food to suit the type of plants you are growing.

    Broad Beans growing in Haxnicks Vigoroot Pots

    As I had started growing the plants too early in the season, they didn’t get enough hours of sunlight during the first few months . Subsequently they grew a little too tall and ‘leggy’ as they searched for more light. I decided to cut them back to about half their height.  Within a few days their energy was diverted to producing an abundance of flowers, which hopefully will start to turn into beans before too long.

    Haxnicks Garden Products can be brought online

    This whole system of growing plants using the Vigoroot Pots, Growlite and Water Saucers is remarkably simple to set up and incredibly ‘low-maintenance’. The plants require almost no attention other than a few kind words of encouragement every now and then, and their use of water and plant food is almost 100% efficient - very similar in fact, to a hydroponics set up. So far, the beans are growing beautifully, and look set to produce a great crop later in the season.

    Must put butter on the shopping list...

  • Growing on a balcony, a roof top and more!

    Growing plants on rooftops, balconies and terraces with HaxnicksWhether it’s a balcony, a roof top or a terrace, urban gardeners need to be creative about growing in small spaces. I met a lovely lady in a nice hat at Chelsea Flower show who has this balcony in central London. I think it would look marvelous adorned with pots and planters, but she claimed to be rather too busy!

    Over the years, all sorts of gardeners have been kind enough to share their pictures of creative growing in unusual places….

    Haxnicks patio planters and pots growing in a treehouse.

    These crazy crops are 30 ft high in a tree house. I am told the benefits of growing so high outweigh the impracticality. Not only are the planters out of reach from the family goat, but slug pellets are not required at such dizzy heights. Even the least sluggish slug would find the climb beyond his capabilities. Watering requires a cleverly devised pulley system that keeps the children fully entertained, mostly due to the soaking of unwary passers-by.

    Haxnicks patio planters on the roof of a river boat

    No problem with watering here! This floating herb garden in pots and planters helps to add a little home-grown flavour when cooking up a feast in the galley.

    Growing Tomatoes in a Telephone Box

    In the absence of a Greenhouse this disused telephone box is a great place to grow tomatoes. Not only is it a warm shelter, but the perfect width to support the plant as the stems become heavily laden with fruit. It’s the perfect colour too!

    Growing Plants in the back of a car

    More colour matching here. This car may have reached the end of its useful life on the road, but makes a perfect greenhouse now. It’s cosy for germination in the early Spring and the windows can be wound down for ventilation on warmer days. When crops are ready they can be popped on the top out of reach of cats, dogs, goats and slugs. Carrots à la car!

     

     

  • 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

     

     

  • Keeping Out the Easter Bunny and all his friends!

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

    Keeping Rabbits away from Garden Plants

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

    Protecting Garden Plants from Rabbits

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

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

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

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

  • Get chitting ready for planting your seed potatoes

    If you have a small or urban garden potatoes are the perfect veg to grow in a Haxnicks Patio Planter - we even have a special Patio Potato Planter!

    Seed potatoes are on sale from December and throughout the spring. Each Patio Planter is suitable for planting 3 seed tubers or 4 tubers if very small 'baby potatoes' are required. By planting each potato planter at 4 week intervals you will be able to harvest over a longer period.

    First you need to 'chit' your seed potatoes by placing them in a cool but frost-free place in egg boxes or shallow trays in full light, so that they can form sturdy shoots (chits) about 2.5cm (1 inch) long. This takes approximately 5 weeks.

    When they are ready to plant, you will need approximately 40 litres of good general purpose compost for each planter.

    Haxnicks Potato Patio Planters

    Pour approximately 10cm (4 inches) into the bottom of the planter. Plant your seed potatoes, with the shoots or eyes facing upwards, and cover with 5cm (2 inches) of compost. Keep the compost slightly damp, but do not over-water.

    When the shoots have grown 7cm (3 inches) high, add another layer of compost to leave the tips of the shoots just showing, keeping the compost damp each time. Repeat this process until the compost and shoots are 3 cm (1 inch) from the top.

    When the Potato Planter is full and the leaves of the plants are showing, feed weekly with a high potash/ low nitrogen soluble plant food. If there is danger of frost, cover with fleece and remove when the frost has passed.

    When the plant produces small white or pink flowers your potatoes are ready to harvest. Simply dig down into the planter to see if your potatoes are ready, and look out for the planter bulging, another sign of good potato growth. Remove a few potatoes at a time, or tip the planter out to reveal a bumper harvest.

    If you want larger tubers then continue feeding and watering for another few weeks. When the potatoes are ready to harvest, you can always store them in a Haxnicks Jute Vegetable Sack!

  • How to sow (and contain) Horseradish

    How to grow Horseradish with Haxnicks Patio PlantersPost by Madeleine Cardozo


    Horseradishes
    If, like me, you have had previous experience with horseradish, you will know that they seem to root everywhere and then you can never get rid of them.  A contained planter like this one (pictured) will do the job. Use ½ manure and ½ compost as horseradishes love manure. I've actually placed the planter in the greenhouse to start it off.

    Note: Using Manure

    Manure is a wonderful thing, it feeds the plants and keeps them healthy and warm.  In early February I put manure onto my raspberries, asparagus and in my vegetable patch, and also on my flower beds, roses and fruit trees.


    Can you think of any other vegetables or herbs that would benefit from this system of sowing/planting?  Let us know in the comments box below!

  • What to do with used compost from your Patio Planters

    Blog post by Robbie

    Patio Planters that were once filled with beautiful flowering peas, towering tomatoes and luscious lettuces, are now completely bare - so, what now?
    You can use your 'spent' compost again, but it will be fairly deficient in nutrients and if the plants you grew had any pest or disease related problems you may find these come back and effect the next lot.Haxnicks Patio PlantersIt is usually best to use multipurpose compost from the garden centre to ensure your plants are getting the best possible start.What to do with 'old' compost:
    • Use as a Mulch* for trees and bushes
    • Top-dressing for raised beds and borders
    Or alternatively:
    • Add to compost heap
    • Offer to members of your local allotment
    Be careful if you've added any stones or gravel to the bottom of your planters - you may want to try and separate that from the rest of the compost before using it for another purpose.  If your crops were unaffected by disease or pests then you could just leave the gravel mix in the bottom for next time.
    If you would like any further information or have your own comments, please feel free to add them below...Mulch is 'garden jargon' for adding a protective layer over soil.  Doing this helps to retain moisture, provide nutrients and suppress weed growth or weed seed germination.

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