Haskins Garden Centres are encouraging those with ‘green fingers’ to get ahead and plan for a Christmas dinner with a difference – by planting and harvesting potatoes to enjoy during the festive period.
Alasdair Urquhart, plant advisor at Haskins Garden Centre, Ferndown, said: “To many, it is a delight to savour the fruits of your labour by tucking into delicious home-grown food. It may still be the summer, but a potato planted in August into a frost free greenhouse, cool conservatory or bright porch can produce tasty ‘roasties’ for Christmas Day.”
Alasdair’s tips on growing potatoes are:
- Always use fresh compost if growing in containers or in bags
- Deter slugs and snails
- Potatoes grown outside in autumn can be susceptible to ‘potato blight’, so consider using a cloche or growing tunnel to protect them. Indoor plants are rarely affected
- Feed with a general purpose fertiliser
- Check weather forecasts for early frosts in your area and protect your plants with fleece, a cloche or a growing tunnel
Different types of potato on offer at Haskins Garden Centres located in Ferndown in Dorset, West End in Southampton and Roundstone and Snowhill in West Sussex include:
Duke of York – a superb all-rounder that has a rich flavour. Suitable for roasting, boiling and steaming.
Maris Peer – ideal for container growing, these potatoes have a superb, light, fresh flavour. They are versatile too, as they don’t disintegrate whilst cooking. Suitable for boiling, roasting and steaming, they also make a great salad potato.
Pentland Javelin – with good disease resistance, this white fleshed potato has a soft, waxy texture once cooked. Suitable for boiling and as a salad potato.
Arran Pilot – a traditional favourite, Arran Pilot makes an ideal new or salad potato. It has a great flavour with a firm, waxy flesh. It also has good disease resistance and tastes best fresh from the earth.
Charlotte – an ideal salad potato for the Boxing Day cold platter. Produces pear shaped tubers with a creamy, white flesh that has an outstanding flavour either hot or cold.
Vanessa – With a beautiful red skin, Vanessa is suitable for boiling or baking. Its waxy flesh also lends itself to salads. It tastes similar to Desiree.
August is peak blackberry season and to celebrate, Haskins Garden Centre has released some fruity tips on how to make the most out of the juicy berries.
The summer months are best for harvesting blackberries and their deep taste is often utilised in many British dessert recipes. Jam making is a traditional way of preserving the fruits, and they can also be added to smoothies, salads, sorbets or cakes.
Alasdair Urquhart, plant advisor at Haskins Garden Centre, Ferndown, said: “Blackberries are extremely versatile and picking wild varieties can make for a fun family activity. Those of you who would prefer to grow your own varieties can do so by planting blackberry canes from late summer.
“Cultivated varieties are simple to grow and quick to establish and many varieties are thornless making maintenance a pleasure. The Black Butte, Black Satin Thornless, Lock Ness, and Reuben are all delicious varieties which can be easily grown in gardens.”
From September, blackberry canes will be available to buy in store from £12.99 at Haskins Garden Centres located in Ferndown in Dorset, West End in Southampton and Roundstone and Snowhill in West Sussex.
Apple and blackberry cake recipe
- 175g salted butter
- 300g self-raising flour
- 4 Bramley Apples (800g)
- 284ml whipping cream
- 225g caster sugar
- 3 eggs
- 300g blackberries
- 1-2tsp cinnamon
- 1 lemon
We recommend using a 30cm x 20cm cake tin
- Preheat your oven to 200°c / 180°c fan assisted / Gas mark 6
- Peel and core the apples and cover with the juice from 1 lemon to prevent them from going brown
- Grease the cake tin with a little butter and greaseproof paper to stop the cake mixture from sticking
- Mix the sugar, flour and eggs together
- Add the cream and butter to a pan and bring to a boil, stirring occasionally.
- Fold the cream/butter mixture and sugar/egg mixture together with the flour until completely smooth
- Pour the mixture into the cake tin, add some of the apples to the mixture, leaving some slices for the top. Scatter the blackberries over the top, then sprinkle with cinnamon.
- Bake for 50-60 minutes until golden.
Haskins Garden Centres has released some top tips on how to create a seasonal planter and extend colourful displays well into late summertime.
Alasdair Urquhart, plant advisor at Haskins Garden Centres, explains: “By selecting suitable plants and shrubs, the colour in your garden can be extended throughout late summer and into the autumn. It’s important to choose the right plants now to lengthen the life of summer borders.”
Step 1 – Choose your location and planter
Select a pot or planter that will suit your chosen location. If it is to be placed directly on a patio, use ‘pot feet’ to raise it from the ground and deter slugs and snails. Add enough potting compost to allow the plants to stand at the right height above the rim of the pot.
Step 2 – Add a feature plant
Start with a feature plant that will be the main focal point of the display, either for its height, colour or variety. Haskins suggests Rudbeckia or Verbascum for the eye-catching centrepiece. Rudbeckia is a striking plant, known for its robust and attractive qualities. Verbascum is an upright-growing and stately perennial, ideal for adding height to a planting scheme.
Step 3 – Select complimentary plants, including one that will trail over the side of the pot
Position the other varieties around the feature plant with any trailing ones close to the edge to make it easy for them to spill over the sides. Canna Lilies will add an exotic feel to the planter and provide a tropical element to the garden.
Step 4 – The all-important aftercare
Keep the pot watered throughout the dry summer months.
Step 5 – Create an assortment of planted pots
The assortment adds summer colour to small spaces, patios and balconies .
Haskins Garden Centres are located in Ferndown in Dorset, West End in Southampton and Roundstone and Snowhill in West Sussex. For more information, visit www.haskins.co.uk.