Love to Grow

  • Fluffy, melt in the mouth potato scones for dinner anyone?

    I am about to harvest my second lot of potatoes - tonight if the rain stays away long enough.  And I am planning a frenzy of potato related cookery to celebrate starting with these light and fluffy Potato Scones.  Perfect for breakfast with a nice fried egg and some good brown fruity sauce but just as at home served at a dinner party.

    Potato Scones

    This recipe for Potato Scones is a newish one to me, but a brilliant find. Anything different to do with potatoes is always interesting. My children love these and so do I.  Because they are filling I almost feel as if they are a meal in themselves. They are rather smarter than plain ordinary mash, and go really well with either sausages or something special like poached salmon.

    Preparation: 10 minutes Cooking time: 25 minutes

     

    Makes: 10 – 12 scones

     

    Ingredients:Pile_of_Small_potato_scones

    5 medium sized potatoes

    1 tbsp butter

    2oz (50g) plain flour

    Salt and pepper

    1 tbsp olive oil

     

     

     

     

    Directions:

    1. Firstly peel, cook and mash the potatoes.

    2. Add the butter to the potatoes and mix until melted.

    3. Add enough flour to make the mixture pliable like dough.

    4. Make up 8cm x 1.5cm (3 x 1/2”) rounds, you should be able to make about 10 or 12 of these.

    5. Prick the surface of each scone with a fork – this allows the heat through to the centre of the scone, when cooking it.

    6. Meanwhile heat up a frying pan with just a little olive oil, covering the bottom.

    7. Place the scones in the pan and fry them gently for about 3 minutes on each side.

    8. Best served hot.

     

    I do hope that you enjoy these fluffy little morsels .  For a printable copy of the recipe click here.

  • Aaaaaaaargh! Too many courgettes!

    Dear Deidre

    I have too many courgettes!  I mean so many that even my neighbours pretend to be out when I stagger up to their drive under the weight of the copious courgettes.  What am I to do?  No one likes marrows (well sometimes but if I can't give away courgettes I won't be welcome with marrow!) I need a solution fast - Anon

    If you have the same problems as our friend Anon then do not fear I have two excellent courgette recipes for you.  The first is for dainty little Courgette Appetizers and the second is for Stuffed Courgette Flowers. (I also have a marrow recipe but will save that for another day!)

    Courgette Appetizers

    These appetizers can either be used as a starter or as a canapé, you can make them into little mouthfuls or you can make them larger and use a knife and fork to eat them. They are healthy – gluten free – and it is another brilliant way to use up any excess courgettes. Here we have used mint but you could try other herbs if you so wish.

    Preparation: 15 minutes Cooking time: 10 minutes Serves: 6 as a starter

    courgette-flowersIngredients:

    2 medium sized courgettes

    6oz (175g) goats cheese

    Handful of mint leaves

    Olive oil

    A sprinkle of salt

    Directions:

    1. With a potato peeler or even a cheese slicer, peel thick ribbons of courgette, making a courgette rasher, like bacon.
    2. Chop the mint leaves into little bits.
    3. Slice the goats cheese into a size that will fit well when wound up by the courgette rasher.
    4. Get the cheese, a sprinkle of mint and wrap the courgette around it. You may want to hold it together with a cocktail stick.
    5. Put in a baking tray and drizzle or brush a little olive oil over it. Sprinkle a little salt on top too.
    6. Put in a medium oven for 10 minutes until slightly browned and the cheese has melted.

    Stuffed Courgette/Squash Flowers (Deep Fried)

    You can only really make these canapé’s/starters when the courgettes and squashes are in flower. You will also find it almost impossible to buy the flowers anywhere, so they really do have to come from your own garden. It is just a question of how many you can get in one go to make them worth cooking.

    Preparation: 20 minutes Cooking time: 10 – 15 minutes Serves: 6

    Ingredients:

    12 courgette/squash flowers

    1 medium courgette

    1 tbsp olive oil

    Small handful of basil or thyme

    4oz (100g) feta, goats or mozzarella cheese

    Salt and pepper

    About 2pts (1ltr) of sunflower oil for frying in

    1 lemon

    3oz (75g) plain flour

    Pinch of salt

    1 egg yolk

    6floz (175ml) ice-cold fizzy water or beer!

    Directions:

    1. Make the batter first by sifting the flour and salt into a bowl, make a well in the flour, then add the egg yolk and the fizzy water/beer.
    2. Whisk it all up until it is smooth and place in the fridge until needed.
    3. Put the sunflower oil into a deep pan for frying, it must be about 8cm (4”) deep, and heat.
    4. Check the courgettes flowers for unwanted insects and remove the pistils, as they are very bitter.
    5. Make the filling for the flowers:• Pour a tbsp of olive oil into a frying pan. Add grated courgettes and fry them until soft.• Chop the cheese into little bits and put into a bowl.• Finely chop the basil or thyme whichever herb you choose and add this to the cheese.• Add the fried courgette and a sprinkle of salt and pepper. Mix it up.• Spoon this into the courgette flowers. Coat the flowers with batter.
    6. Immediately place the gooey ‘things’ into the very hot pan of oil for approximately 1 – 2 minutes until golden brown.
    7. Take them out of the oil with a slotted spoon and let them sit on some kitchen paper to cool and drain off the fat for about 3 – 5 minutes.
    8. Cut the lemon into wedges to serve alongside the still hot stuffed flowers.

    For a printable pdf for both of these recipes please click Courgette Recipes

  • A delicious way to use a glut of fruit or windfall apples...

    This tart can be made with apples, pears, plums, raspberries, strawberries..... or a mix of fruits. It is a cooked tart with a custard filling, that can be eaten hot or cold. Once you have made it once, you will definitely want to make it again, and of course it will be easier the next time round.

    The trick to a good pastry is not to over handle it and to make sure that it is cold before putting it in the oven. Hence the reason I keep mentioning to put it in the fridge.

    Tarte Francaise 

    Preparation: 20 minutes Cooking time: 30 minutes Serves: 6Tarte-francaise-apples-raspberries

     Ingredients:

    5oz (125g) plain flour

    11/2oz (30g) icing sugar

    3oz (75g) butter

    A small amount of cold water

    3 medium sized cooking apples

    4oz (100g) raspberries – or another cooking apple

    5 floz (150ml) milk

    2 floz (50ml) cream

    1 large egg

    2oz (50g) caster sugar

     Directions:

    1. Grease your 9” flan tin well. Put it in the fridge.
    2. Put the flour, icing sugar and butter in a large mixing bowl. Rub the butter into the flour to make a fine breadcrumb texture. Add enough cold water very carefully to make a firm dough. If you put too much water in add a little more flour.
    3. Roll it out and place in the cold baking tin. Put in fridge.
    4. Turn the oven on to180° /350°/ Gas mark 4.
    5. Peel, core and slice the apples.
    6. Prettily place the apples on the pastry, then add the raspberries. Put in fridge.
    7. In a measuring jug put the milk, cream, egg and sugar. Whisk until well mixed.
    8. Pour over the pastry and fruit.
    9. Put in the oven for about 30 minutes.
    10. When serving cold, it is nice to sieve a little icing sugar on the top as a decoration.

    For a downloadable pdf click Tarte Française 

  • Mere School children get a taste of France

    As part of their community activity Haxnicks has set up a partnership with its local Primary School to encourage the local children to start growing their own food.

     

     

    They were supplied with Rootrainers to grow beans and tomatoes.  Once grown they planted these round the Eiffel Tower and sold the remainder to some very grateful parents to raise funds for the School's Gardening Club.

    Mrs Tavener who runs the Gardening Club reports that the Mere School children were very excited to receive an amazing Eiffel Tower garden support from Haxnicks.  The year 1 class were all very keen to plant it with runner beans they had grown from seed in the classroom.  The Gardening Club then planted some sweet peas they had grown.  As you can see, from these pictures taken in mid June, the beans had reached the top and the sweet peas needed picking daily.   She expressed her thanks to Haxnicks for giving such a lovely feature for their School garden.

  • Where will next year's flowers come from?

    The answer is seed harvesting and it couldn’t be simpler.

    Summer’s in full swing and flowers are abundant, but many of the flowers have finished blooming now.  Life lives on though, as the seeds are there for the next sowing.

    Collecting them couldn’t be simpler, just break/cut off their heads and either turn them upside down give them a good shake or prise the seeds out gently. If they don’t fall off easily it means that they are not ready yet. I wait until the flower heads are really dry, then it is easier.

    Today's haul

    flower-seed-in-bowls Today's harvest is next summer's flowers

    Today as an example I have collected allium, cornflower and aquilegia seeds, they will go into envelopes and in the autumn I will sow the perennials*, in the Spring I will sow the annuals.  Make sure you keep the seeds you collect dry and remember to plant them when the time comes!

    Not sure about perennials and annuals? Check out the difference here

     

  • Legoland gardens are faking it!

    As the amount of guests booms for LEGOLAND, the number of gardeners dwindles.  Inventions like astro turf and extremely good fake mini trees make the gardeners life easier. There is little time for real gardening.

    LEGOLAND_Eiffel_Tower LEGOLAND version of Haxnicks' Eiffel Tower plant Frame

    Times change: instead of mowing the lawns they are vacuum cleaning them!

    LEGOLAND employs 2 ½ gardeners for Miniland and 3 gardeners for the rest of the park. Originally there were 15 gardeners and flowers, grass and trees were high on the agenda. Now the managers have realised that most of the visitors are only interested in the rides and the LEGO unsurprisingly, so why 'waste money' on beautiful gardens?

    The heatwave of 2018 appears to be taking its toll.  It has not rained at Windsor for 42 days now. The picnic lawns are suffering, the small amounts of flowers need watering, but the Miniland lawns are as fresh as ever.

     


    LEGOLAND Latest Exhibition

    LEGOLAND_Meghan_and_harry Trees didn't quite get long enough...

    LEGO builders have built a new exhibition at Miniland, it is of Prince Harry and Megan on their wedding day at Windsor Castle.  It is brilliant, but the trees surrounding it are dead because there wasn’t quite enough time for them to root and the hot weather has killed them off.  The problem with having real mini trees at Miniland is that no matter how much you prune them to stay small the trunks just keep getting fatter. Fake trees may have been a better option just this once.

    The rest of the parkland still needs real shrubs and real trees for picnic areas and exhibitions such as the Dinosaurs and Heartlake City.  So there is still stuff to see for those more interested in gardening than LEGO.

    Gardens and gardeners may be less, but never extinct at LEGOLAND

  • What to do with green tomatoes...

     

    This green tomato recipe is taken from Plot to Pot by Madeleine Cardozo and is supposed to be made in late September when the summer has run out and there are still green tomatoes on the vine with no more sun to ripen them.

    Remember all the other years when this was a problem?

    Well this year the green tomatoes are available for a different reason. The long, hot dry spell of weather means that it is all too easy for tomato plants to become too dry.  The gardener takes their eye of the watering for a moment and the plant is in defense mode.  And the first reaction of a tomato in defense mode is to drop its precious fruit all over your greenhouse floor.

    As a result, rather than this recipe coming out in September i am sharing it with you now in the hope that you can make use of those green tomatoes...

    Green Tomato & Apple Chutney

    Imagine that you have worked so hard to get tomatoes and it is now late September and these tomatoes are still green and going to rot if you don’t do something with them. The answer – chutney! Perfectly timed if you have cooking apples as September is when they are just ripe enough to start cooking with and you may even be able to use your own onions if you have plenty.

     Preparation: 30 minutes Cooking time: 5o minutes

     

    Green tomato on plant Don't waste fallen green tomatoes...

     Ingredients:

    3lbs 8oz (1.575Kg) green tomatoes

    1lb (450g) onions

    1lb 8oz (680g) cooking apples

    1oz (25g) sea salt

    1/2 oz (12.5)g peppercorns

    1lb (450g) preserving sugar

    2 pints (1.2lt) vinegar

    8oz (225g) raisins

    8oz (225g) sultanas

      

    Directions:

    1. Slice the tomatoes, peel and chop the onions and peel, core and chop the apples. Mix in a bowl with the peppercorns and salt.
    2. In a large pan boil up the vinegar and sugar, add the raisins and sultanas, then boil gently for 5 minutes.
    3. Add the tomatoes, onions and apples to the pan and simmer until thick.
    4. Pour into hot, clean jars and close the lids quickly to create a vacuum which will preserve the chutney.

    For printable PDF click here Green Tomato & Apple Chutney

  • 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

  • Time to harvest courgettes and see what has and hasn't made it this year...

    WEEK 15

    Firstly, I have to say we seem to have been very lucky with the English weather this spring/summer. The Haxnicks Raised Beds have worked spectacularly with the help of the rain and sun.

    Early in the season we took the polythene cover off as the air temperature was so high we feared the plants would get too hot. Within weeks there were courgette flowers and tiny courgettes... so tempting to pick them in over excitement.

    courgette-with-flower

    By week 8, fully grown courgettes were ready to be made into ratatouille using my trusty Rocknife

    Unfortunately the cucumbers seemed to have vanished - where they have gone is beyond me. I imagine that when we took the polythene cover off a little mouse came along and ate them.

    Elsewhere in the garden the tomatoes are coming along nicely, I'm just waiting to see their fruit.  We also have a bed full of the most humongous sage and thyme ready for picking.  And whatsmore the courgettes are still coming through thick and fast.

    This is honestly the first time I have grown a vegetable and I know that I will be doing this next year without a doubt. - Absolutely effortless!

  • Bunny Guinness features Haxnicks Easy Net Tunnel to help your plants survive the heatwave

    easy-net-tunnels-combat-heat Easy-Net tunnels one of the ways to combat the heat

    With an almost unprecedented spell of hot dry weather gardeners are searching for ways to save their garden from the scorching sun.  Bunny Guinness, writing in the Telegraph, has found the ideal solution in the Haxnicks Easy Net Tunnel.  It is the only tunnel that uses shade netting to protect from the sun.  It also conserves valuable moisture which is key with the weather as it is.

    Haxnicks-easy-net-tunnel Shade netting tunnels keep plants cool!

     

     

     

     

     

    There are other ways to combat the heat too.

    Self-Watering

    For those who really don't like watering, then self watering solutions such as the Self Watering Tower Garden and the Vigoroot Easy Table Garden are a great choice.  Most plants like to remain moist at all times.  Drying out or irregular watering can play havoc with popular plants such as tomatoes causing fruit to split or become deformed.   As well as keeping the plants hydrated both the Tower Garden and the Table Garden use Vigoroot fabric so that the roots of the plants are air-pruned allowing much more to be grown in a small space.

     

    Meanwhile, if you are already growing plants in pots then Water Saucers may be the answer to your problems.  An imminent hose pipe ban has led to a huge increase in sales of Water Saucers.  A nifty solution that works with any potted plant. The plant draws up water as needed via a super absorbent capillary wick.  This is better for the environment as it conserves water and none is wasted.  A three way win for plant, gardener and the environment.

    vigoroot, beans, window, light, haxnicks, broad beans, growlite, water saucer, watersaucer

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