Monthly Archives: July 2018

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

    If you have windfall apples this is the recipe for you.  However, this tart can also 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.

    Windfall Apple Tarte Francaise 

    Preparation: 20 minutes Cooking time: 30 minutes Serves: 6Tarte_francaise_windfall_apples_raspberries


    5oz (125g) plain flour

    11/2oz (30g) icing sugar

    3oz (75g) butter

    A small amount of cold water

    3 medium sized cooking apples (or equivalent windfall)

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

    5 floz (150ml) milk

    2 floz (50ml) cream

    1 large egg

    2oz (50g) caster sugar


    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

    A taste of France at Mere School!  As part of their community activity Haxnicks has set up a partnership with its local Primary School.  This is to encourage the local children to start growing their own food.</p><p>

    They were supplied with Rootrainers to grow beans and tomatoes.  Once grown they planted these round the Eiffel Tower.  They 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 keen to plant it with runner beans they had grown from seed.  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.

    the Mere School children were very excited to receive an amazing Eiffel Tower garden support from Haxnicks.  The year 1 class were all keen to plant it with runner beans they had grown from seed.  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...


    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



    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





    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


    4oz (110g) cream cheese

    2oz (55g) soft butter

    1 tsp vanilla flavouring

    10oz (275g icing sugar


    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.


    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 for the courgette plants.  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 courgette plants would get too hot. Within weeks there were courgette flowers and tiny courgettes... so tempting to pick them in over excitement.


    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.


    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

  • Rhubarb to spare, anyone?

    Its a while since I have written.  I have been too busy enjoying the weather and the garden but thought I would just share this amazing late season recipe with you.  In case you, like me, have still got lots and lots of rhubarb in your garden and a family who have almost had enough of it for one year.

    The recipe is for a jam.  Its a great alternative to your traditional strawberry jam.  The ginger just adds a certain extra something to the mix.  Taking away a little of the sweetness and complementing rhubarb's sourness.



    Rhubarb & Ginger Jam
    recipe-for-rhubarb-and-ginger-jam The recipe from Plot to Pot...


    Make this recipe with late season rhubarb (mid to late July) which is bigger for best results.  Mature stalks are perfect for jam making.  The resulting jam is delicious and works well on hot buttered toast.  Mix with a little yoghurt or cream and drizzled over ice cream for another yummy way to use.

    Downloadable pdf for you to print your own Rhubarb-and-ginger-jam

    Fun Facts!

    Around 1 pound of fresh fruit yields about 3 cups chopped or 2 cups cooked. Top tip is you are trying to work out how many jars you will need.

    It was used as a medicine/healing ointment in earlier centuries. A native plant of China, it was grown and traded for medicinal purposes as early as the 16th century.

    The redder the stalk, the sweeter the flavor. All rhubarb is quite bitter in taste and therefore a great substitute for cranberries, and a good match with a sweeter fruit like strawberries.  so mixing and matching can give great results.

    The leaves attached to the Rhubarb stalk are poisonous. (You knew that one though - didn't you?)

    For another great tip for rhubarb check out this blog Sweet Cicely and Rhubarb

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