Monthly Archives: November 2011

  • How to make Mulled Pears

    Excerpt from 'Plot to Pot' by Madeleine Cardozo
    To Bottle or not to bottle...
    It is all very well enjoying the fruits of the garden during the summer months, but of course you can enjoy them in the winter as well by storing them, this is a great last minute pudding, all you have to do is to take out of the cupboard and serve it either warm or cold.  Mulled pears are delicious with vanilla ice cream, cream or crème fraîche.
    Preparation: 20 minutes | Cooling time: 40 minutes | Serves: 8
    4lbs (1.8kg) firm pears
    1 orange
    1 lemon
    2 cinnamon sticks
    12 cloves
    5cm (2") piece of fresh root ginger
    11 oz (300g) granulated sugar
    1 bottle of fruity red wine
    - top this up with water if necessary
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     Ø  Peel the pears, but keep their stalks.
     Ø  Peel the rinds of the lemon and orange using a
    potato peeler.
    v To Bottle:       
     Ø  Stuff as many pears as
    you can into your storage bottles.
     Ø  Divide the spices and
    rinds between the bottles.
     Ø  Put the sugar and wine
    into a pan and heat up on a low heat until all the sugar has been dissolved.
    Then boil for 5 minutes.
     Ø  Pour the wine syrup
    completely covering the pears.
     Ø  Secure the lids.
     Ø  Put into the oven and
    cook for about 30 minutes at 100˚C/200˚F/gas mark 3
     Ø  Take the jars out, watch
    out because they are extremely hot.
     Ø  When they are cool check
    that the seal on the jars has worked.  You can do this by gently trying to
    open the jar, if it is not possible they are sealed.
    Not to
     Ø  Put all the pears into a
    pan, add the spices sugar and wine.
     Ø  Put a lid on.
     Ø  Simmer the pears for approximately 20 minutes.
     Ø  When the pears are cooked, you can either serve them
    hot or let them cool.


    'Plot to Pot' is out now - available online and in garden centres and bookshops (check with our stockists first).
    Madeleine Cardozo's Plot to Pot
    Click to find out more
  • 5 Easy Ways to protect your plants from frost

    Protecting plants isn't rocket science.  Although you can never completely eradicate the threat of frost damage to the plants in your garden, you can at least use these helpful tips as a guide to prepare for the worst:

    1. Group plants together

    Choose a location at the top of the garden facing north, west or south. Plants in containers may be grouped together so that You can easily create a microclimate for your plants which allow them to provide shelter for each other. It also makes it easier for you to cover and water them in one go.

    2. Cover plants in Fleece

    Make sure you cover plants in fleece or hessian/jute.  This will protect them from frost and allow light and moisture to filter through.  If you want to make it even easier, you can use fleece jackets such as the one in the picture.  These just pull over the top and fasten at the bottom.  Note:  Pots (especially terracotta ones) can suffer from frost damage so make sure you cover these in the same way.

    3.  Move tender plants to the greenhouse or indoors

    if you have the space.  You can also overwinter (gardening jargon for plant hibernation) by covering them with a cold frame, plant house or a polythene grower system cover.

    4.  Use mother nature!

    It sounds crazy, but in fact snow can help to insulate your plants, especially from cold drying winds.  Make sure you still clear snow from tree branches and conservatory/greenhouse roofs, though, as snow can become heavy and cause damage. Use mulch (old leaves, home made compost) and straw to provide natural cover for tree roots, especially evergreens in pots and with roots above the surface of the soil.

    5. Keep plants watered

    In the winter plants lose moisture in the cold, dry air so make sure you water them if they need it and this will improve their natural defense against the harsh effects of winter weather.  Too much water (rainwater included) is  a bad thing though - you don't want the ground around the roots to freeze.

    We are well known for being experts in plant protection - so why not drop us a line or comment in the box below if you have any questions, would like more details or even if you have your own tried and tested tips for protecting your plants from cold weather.

  • What to do with your pumpkin seeds

    Post by Madeleine Cardozo

    I am really hoping that you didn’t just throw away all those wonderful pumpkins seeds.

    I keep about 50 of them, placed in a saucer to dry out on the windowsill ready for sowing in April next year.

    With the rest you can bake them and eat them as a nutritious snack:

    Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

    1. Separate the seeds from the flesh of the pumpkin but don’t wash. 
    2. Place them onto a baking tray
    3. Pour a little olive oil over them and then sprinkle with salt 
    4. Mix them about. 
    5.  Put them into the oven (375°F, gas mark 5, 190°C) for about 20 minutes until they are golden brown.  You can keep them for months but they will tend to lose their flavour after 6 weeks.


    Haxnicks Garden Products can be brought online

    Haxfact!: Pumpkin seeds are a super food full of iron, zinc, calcium and magnesium and are also a source of protein and omega 3.

    Storing Apples

    If you want to store apples, you need to store them directly from the tree. The apples need to be handled very carefully.  Each one wrapped in newspaper and then place in a dark cool place such as a shed, cellar or garage. They need to go somewhere where they will not be disturbed until you need them. Alternatively you can peel, core and slice them, then put them in the freezer ready for that wonderful French apple tart that you are dying to make.

    Other things to do in the garden this week:

    If you would like onions for the summer you had better get your skates on and plant out the sets now.
    You can still sow winter lettuces under cloches, when these have come up plant them out in the greenhouse or under poly tunnels, my rocket is doing amazingly well.

    The next post will be about protecting your garden from frost and winter weather.  Subscribe to the blog to be notified as soon as it has been posted!

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