Love to Grow

  • 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

  • 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 of rhubarb in your garden and a family who have almost had enough of it for one year.

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

     

     


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

     

    This recipe is best made from late season rhubarb (mid to late July) which has bigger, mature stalks which are perfect for jam making.  The resulting jam is delicious and works well on hot buttered toast.  It is also great mixed with a little yoghurt or cream and drizzled over ice cream.

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

  • How to garden in small spaces

    The top 5 tips for living in small spaces are quite easy to follow and with a few handy products we can apply this to the garden, the allotment or the balcony too.

    1.  Get Rid of Stuff

    Start by having a good declutter and creating a blank canvas.  The decaying plastic pots that sit mouldering in the corner enjoyed by no one but snails.  The old garden chair that the last plot owner forgot or the wood that you were going to make into... what were you going to make that wood into?
    A good afternoon of clearing and you will be able to see the trees for the wood.   You will reveal space to grow.

    2.  Double Up With Bunk Beds

    Haxnicks Raised Bed SystemsOn the surface this one doesn't translate easily from the house but there are many reasons why rising above the garden will work.  Firstly it is quick and you can get results in a weekend or less.  Secondly, if your soil is poor this can be solved in a flash.  You could dig it, add organic matter. You could even throw chemicals at it to get it to a healthy growing place.  Or you could get our screwdriver out, put in 16 screws and have a Raised Bed ready to fill with soil before the kettle has boiled for your well deserved cuppa.  A fully functioning strawberry patch / salad bed by nightfall.

     

     

    3.  Find yourself Small Furniture

    Getting a bench so you can enjoy your garden should be simple.  Second hand shops are a place for bargains or garden centres stock a wide range to suit all sizes.  But what about your growing space?  There are many corners of the garden or plot where the careless previous owners didn't think to add a bed.  Spaces wasted in terms of growing. Pots and planters are the way to solve this problem and use every inch.  Transform a corner of  the garden or balcony with a Pea & Bean Planter. This provides the space to grow up to 6 plants in just 2ft x 1ft.  Or stylish Oxford Planters could have you growing potatoes, courgettes, tomatoes or herbs & salads in a disused corner and can be folded up and packed away once the season is over.

    If you want to really use your space well and make life easy for yourself then the Vigoroot Easy Table Garden is a raised bed, a mini greenhouse and an irrigation system all in one!  The Vigoroot™ fabric ‘air-prunes’ the roots of plants, dramatically changing their formation and increasing their ability to sustain the plant in a limited volume of compost.  In real terms this means it punches above its weight in terms of yield compared to growing in the ground.

     

    Haxnicks Vigoroot Table Garden

    4.  Expand Your Space With a Large Mirror. ...

    Seems like the space is never big enough?  Accessorising it with a mirror will add the illusion of more space.  It works for gardens or balconies and will also reflect light into shady corners of the area.  Small round mirrors surrounded by foliage will give a window into another world effect  Trick your visitors into thinking there is a whole secret garden beyond.  Be careful what you reflect and try and position it so that it reflects foliage rather than your wheelie bins!

    Mirror in the Garden with butterflies Image courtesy of keen gardener Tracy Chapman

    5.  Maximize Vertical Space.

    Your plot space is your plot space and not much you can do to increase the footprint.  So if you can't go out then you have to go up.  Architectural and design prizes are all going to dramatic living walls.  These might be ambitious for the home gardener but wall space can still be growing space with products such as the Herb Wall planter.  So if you like your pesto fresh or a muddle of mint in your mojito then space should not be an excuse.

     

    Haxnicks Herb Wall Planters Up, up and away - herbs are go!

     

    If herbs aren't enough for you, you could also try the Self Watering Tower Garden.  Like the Easy Table Garden this is a raised bed, a mini greenhouse and an irrigation system all in one.  I have this at home (see my Blog for the full story) and have 4 bush tomatoes, 4 strawberries plus mint, coriander, chives and thyme in a little space under my scaffolding.  All I have to do is check the water level once a week and give the odd once over to check for any snails that have set up home under the pots (2 snails and 1 mini slug found and removed to date).  Other than that it seems to be looking after itself and the plants are thriving.  If you are both short of space and time poor then this one is for you!

     

    So small is beautiful and can be bountiful too and I hope this has inspired you to have a try.  Happy growing!

     

  • 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.

  • Slugs & snails and pints of ale!

    As a gardener, I’m guessing that missing National Snail Day last week on the 24th May is not the biggest problem you have with snails.  Same here! My house was empty for 2 years before I moved in.  This meant the garden was like an ‘all you can eat’ buffet for our unchecked slimy friends.  Seems like the slugs in particular have thrived to Jurassic Park like proportions.

    I have started to remove them to the other side of the garden where they can munch as much ground elder as they like. (Why is it they don’t touch that??)  As much as this seems a good idea I have learnt that common garden snails have a top speed of 45 metres an hour. This might make the snail one of the slowest creatures on Earth but still means they can be back on my lettuce before nightfall. Sigh.

    If I had time, space and a good flashlight then I would happily remove them physically.  However, I have neighbours on all sides who would not appreciate my gastropod cast offs.  Therefore, a trap of some sort is needed.  I also have 2 children, a cat and regard for the planet so slug pellets are not an option.

    The Slug-Buster (also bad news for snails!)

    I am far too much of a wuss to be sprinkling salt on them so enter The Haxnicks Slug-Buster.

    Haxnicks Plant Protection Kits

     

    Whilst salt seems cruel, drowning in a pool of something you find delicious seems a better way to go.  Despite the name The Slug-Buster is equally good at getting rid of snails.  It was super easy to set up.  I just dug a hole to partially bury it, opened a beer, poured it in and popped the lid on.  Then I waited for the slugs and snails to come (not a long wait in my over-populated garden!)

    Haxnicks Slug Buster with  our Oxford Patio Planters Slug-Buster keeping guard over my mixed leaves

    It might be too late for my bean plants but the Slug-Buster has so far proved phenomenal in keeping my rocket and my young juicy lettuce safe. Now I can make the Veg Society's Pasta with Rocket and Chilli recipe that I have had my eye on. It's all about the eating!

    To get yours click here Slug-Buster

  • Potato growing for beginners - growing stars for the plate.

    When I went to Ecuador they had over 200 varieties of potato in use and all of the ones I tasted were subtly different from each other. Not a big deal?  Maybe, but actually could you tell a supermarket King Edward from a Maris Piper by taste alone?  I certainly couldn't so finding actual distinct taste in potatoes was a revelation.  They went from 'side' to 'star' on my plate.  Most of all they tasted delicious.

    So my mission now is to grow my own in the hope of getting some of that flavour onto my plate.  I started late - toward the end of April - when it was unseasonably cold still.  I bought everything I needed

    • first early seed potatoes
    • veggie compost (could have gone multipurpose but on a mission to get it right)
    • Haxnicks Deep Oxford Fabric Planters (could have used compost sacks but who wants to look at those in their garden all summer?)

    To chit or not to chit...

    Then I ran into my first challenge: to chit or not to chit.  The Jury is out.  Monty Don, who was starting a trial in the Vigoroot Potato Planter  at the same time as me said "No!" whilst lots of others said "you MUST".  So I decided I would (sorry Monty) but with a time limit.  They had until the end of April then it was time to plant.

    On my north facing windowsill they grew into nice little characters - seemed a shame to plant them.

    How many potatoes to plant?

    Reluctant to leave any of them that had made the effort to chit, I planted 3 per pot.  Again, against Monty Don's Gardeners World advice as he only suggested 2.  But as I am mainly looking for small salad potatoes I figured that 3 would be OK.  A little water then a nice sunny position next to the tulips and I was done.

    Oxford Fabric Haxnicks Patio Planters Oxford Fabric planters

    I didn't have to wait long before I saw the first luscious green leaves coming through.

    Haxnicks Garden Products can be brought online Potato plants begin to appear

    Just a few weeks later and the are starting to fill the planter.

    Potato plants in Haxnicks Oxford Fabric planters The plants start to grow

     

    The next stage was to earth them up.  Not sure if this is a must but it seems that everyone does it so I covered the carefully grown leaves with soil.  it seemed wrong when they had spent the time pushing their way out but I am assured that this will give a great crop.  Now I am waiting again.

    Waiting, watering and wondering what I might make with them.

    Chip them, stew them, fry them, deep fry them even triple cook them.  Or just boil and serve warm with melted butter dripping off them.  I still have time to choose a recipe from  our friends at The Tasty Potato to make the most of what I hope will be a bumper crop!

    Potato potato plants in Haxnicks Oxford fabric planters Potatoes by evening light
  • Speed Hoe comes top of the class

    The highly respected publication Garden News has conducted a trial of slicing hoes.  According to Geoff Hodge, writer, broadcaster and product guru, The Haxnicks SpeedHoe has come out top of the class.

    The Hoes

    The hoes were tested for quality, comfort, performance and value for money.  The SpeedHoe got 5 stars on all counts.  It was especially noted for how sharp the edges were all round it, greatly increasing the ease of use.  As a result it beat off stiff competition from bigger brands with big price tags to be crowned the best slicing hoe in the trial.  As much as other hoes had their benefits they all scored less in at least one area.  One proud owner commented that it was "the best hoe on earth" and we aren't going to disagree with her.

    Read the full article below to understand more,  Furthermore if you want to make sure you are receiving the best possible gardening advice every week then you can subscribe here Garden News magazine.

    Garden News Magazine review of hoes trial in which the Haxnicks SpeedHoe came top The full article

     

21-30 of 203