• 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 

  • 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

  • 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

  • March gone already? Jobs for the Spring

    Garden jobs are on my mind.  March is supposed to be spring. ‘In like a lion, out like a lamb’ is one of the sayings about this particular month. Literally meaning that often the beginning of March feels like mid-winter but then it all warms up and becomes very spring like by the end of the month.

    I'm not sure this will relate to March 2018 because as far as I can see we have only had a couple of nice days and three sessions of the Beasts from the East!   


    On the sunny days that we did have I think that anybody who has a garden simply had to get outside. Also if we don’t plant our seeds now we won’t have any plants to plant out in May. this extended cold spell is set to disrupt the whole season.

    So what to plant now then? Here is my personal list to start you off.

    Seeds to sow now indoors: 

    Aubergines, Brussels sprouts, celery, courgettes, cucumbers, fennel, kale, lettuces, melons, nasturtiums, marigolds, peas, rocket and spring onions. 

    Seeds and plants to sow now directly outside:  (if the ground is not too sodden)

    Onions (sets), parsnips, potatoes, spinach, rhubarb (crowns) and strawberry (plants). All these will have an even better chance if you cover them with either fleece or Easy Seedling Tunnel .  These will keep them warm and give them the chance to catch up.   

    I used these wonderful seedling tunnels in my greenhouse, later on when the seedlings are large enough I plan to transplant them outside. 










    I think that we are all longing for April and better weather so we can get the garden jobs moving.  We have had glimpses and I am starting to be optimistic!  

  • Madeleine's Garden - Borders and Onions

    As the weather has been so inviting over the past few days with lots of sunshine and warmer temperatures I have been busy outside generally tidying up the garden and building site. Our house was ‘finished’ – well we call it finished but of course there is an everlasting list of continuing jobs – last year, which means that I can now start with a bit of landscaping and making of borders.

    I am planning to make a border all the way around the house, some parts gravel and some parts climbing roses, wisteria, a self-fertile kiwi tree, bulbs and other things that I haven’t yet chosen. It would be fun to have a theme perhaps, an Italian or French corner or maybe all white and pink. We’ll see... Let me know if you have any good ideas.

    Garden Borders and what needs doing from Haxnicks

    Empty Flower Beds at Haxnicks Garden

    A small update on my tomato seedlings, they have just started to grow their real leaves although they are still tiny weeny – 2cm high, which is lucky as there is so much more cold weather to come and they love the warmth of my windowsill.

    Growing Young Plants for Haxnicks Garden

    The sweet peas are getting taller I think that next week I will pinch off the tops so that more stems grow from the bottom making bushier plants, therefore, more prolific in flowers.

    Young plants on window sill in Haxnicks Rootrainers

    I had a rummage in my seed packet drawer and came to the conclusion that I had no more seeds to plant at the moment except for my onion sets, I couldn’t resist and today I planted them and then covered them with fleece tunnels.

    Onion sets planted at about 10cm apart. Fleece tunnels to keep the ground warmer.

    I have placed the onion rows to the outsides of the bed as they act as an insect repellent later on when I have rows of carrots and salads in between.



  • Madeleine's Garden 12th February

    Winter jobs in the Garden

    Its a busy February.  And today was a beautiful sunny day here on the Wiltshire/Dorset border.

    We are spoiled by having such lovely warm houses, that going outside can seem a little daunting as it is so cold. So I wrapped up warmly - woolly hat and all, and ventured into 2°.

    Finally my two little garden gnomes saw light as I pruned the raspberry canes down to about 3 inches high and got rid of any dead ones and unwanted weeds. Maybe tomorrow I will spread some manure around their bases to give them a little warmth and nourishment – The raspberries not the gnomes!

    I'm never quite sure how garden gnomes actually find their way into a garden.... they are never invited, they just seem to turn up.  Maybe someone brought them here as a birthday surprise one year, sneaked them in and then forgot to say anything. Anyway, it doesn't seem very fair to get rid of them just because I didn't choose them myself.


    Busy February for the gnomes


    After the Clearing of Haxnicks Garden

    I have decided to plant a beech hedge along our 'drive to be'.  It will be ready for when we can start to use it. I always admire people who can think in advance. So I bought 30 plants from a mail order catalogue. They arrived and this is the perfect time of year to plant them. Hedging and trees like to be planted when they are dormant during the winter months.

    Haxnicks Garden Products can be brought online

    Lastly I couldn’t believe my eyes!  When I saw that some of the sweet pea and tomato seeds that I had sown less than 2 weeks ago were appearing. Doesn’t time fly.    It certainly is proving to be a busy February!

    ! A busy February preparing the Garden for Spring with Haxnicks Rootrainers     First signs of Spring plants growing from Seeds in Haxnicks Rootrainers in busy february

  • Madeleine's garden 30th Jan 2018

    30th January – Mending fences and sowing the first of the seeds – Tomatoes, Sweet Peas and Delphiniums.

    Well I still haven’t pruned the raspberries. That's a job that needs doing which I somehow haven't managed to do yet.  But with the help of my university student son who was anxious to earn a few pennies before returning to university, we found ourselves mending fences. He hammered the sledge hammer and I held the post. I was a little too close and received a thump on the collar bone from the hammer.  Thank goodness I was alright and my son was truly concerned and apologetic.  I'm sure it is a mistake that he won't repeat any time soon! Well, I hope he won't...

    This morning was beautiful and I managed to get sowing the tomato seeds, some delphinium seeds and sweet peas. I have a large windowsill in our house so have brought them all inside so that they can germinate. They all need roughly 15-20 degrees to get the quickest and best results. I have often been tempted to sow tomatoes earlier.  However, it never pays off so the end of January is an ideal time to start.

    Sowing seeds in Haxnicks Rootrainers

    Rootrainers make the ideal place to grow tomatoes.  While they aren't that fussy the Rootrianers do let them put down a great set of roots.  and the book style opening meana that they can just be opened up and planted on.  With no disturbance to the roots - so they can just get growing with no set backs.



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