Love to Grow

  • Fancy some foraging? Bramble is the best free food...

    Blackberry or bramble...  Love them or hate them?

    In my garden they are a BIG nuisance, terribly invasive they've overtaken the edges of the garden and each year they creep further towards the house.  Much as I dislike them at home, in the hedgerow on my leisurely stroll to work they are different,  Here they are an abundant gift from Mother Nature which will provide all sorts of treats when teamed with the thousands of apples that have come off my tree this year.


  • Is this pudding the best thing about summer?

    Summer Pudding or Summer Fruit Pudding is a British dessert traditionally made of sliced white bread, layered in a deep bowl with fruit and fruit juice. The first reference to it as Summer Pudding in print was in 1904, but identical recipes for the much less catchy soiunding 'hydropathic pudding' can be found as far back as 1868.  You can of course still make it with stale bread but for a little extra indulgence my recipe uses brioche to add a buttery softness.

    So, I use strawberries, raspberries and currants Lone-raspberrybecause that's what I grow but if you have been more adventurous and have tayberries, loganberries, cherries or blueberries then these could be used too and have your children proclaiming that their family "make it with Tayberries and its simply the best!"  Nothing like creating a new family classic!


    Summer Pudding—using brioche

    This has got to be one of my best recipes; it is so easy and delicious. I make a lot of these in the summer with my children.  They feel so important to have made such a great pudding. You can use a variety of fruits, I always think it is nice to have a few blackcurrants as they are very flavoursome against the gentleness of the raspberries. Of course you can use some fruit that you have frozen to mix with the fruit that is in season.


    Preparation: 20 minutes Cooking time: 5 minutes

    Waiting time: min 3 hours Serves: 6 – 8



    2lbs (900g) soft fruits, raspberries,summer-pudding-with mint-on-top

    strawberries, blackberries, white/black/redcurrants...

    6oz (150g) caster sugar

    6 – 8 slices of Brioche




    1. Use a soufflé dish or pudding basin; cover the bottom of it and the sides with slices of
    2. Hull* the strawberries.
    3. Put the fruit into a pan with the sugar on a low heat, until the fruit has softened for 4 – 5 minutes.
    4. Take it off the heat and spoon out the fruit leaving most of the juices in the pan.
    5. Cover the top of the fruit with more brioche and pour the remaining juice on top of that.
    6. Put a plate that fits into the bowl on top and weigh it down with some kind of weight.
    7. Put it in the fridge for 3 hours – overnight is best.
    8. Finally, just before you are ready to serve, take it out of the fridge.  Take off the plate and the weight, loosen the edges gently and turn it out onto a serving plate.
    9. Perfect served cold with a splash of cream.


    * Hull means to take the stalks off the strawberries.

    For a printable copy click here Summer Pudding 

  • 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



    5 medium sized potatoes

    1 tbsp butter

    2oz (50g) plain flour

    Salt and pepper

    1 tbsp olive oil






    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


    2 medium sized courgettes

    6oz (175g) goats cheese

    Handful of mint leaves

    Olive oil

    A sprinkle of salt


    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


    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!


    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


    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


    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

    <p>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>

    </p><p> </p><p> </p><p><a href=""><img class="wp-image-2614 alignright" src="" alt="" width="323" height="573" /></a>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.</p><p>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.</p>

  • 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

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