This National Gardening Week (27 April to 3 May), why not start growing your own fruit and veg?

The theme for this year’s National Gardening Week is Keep Gardening and Grow at Home, encouraging the nation to get gardening in whatever space they have for the benefit of their physical and mental health.

April and May are the perfect time to continue planting fruit and vegetables to create some delicious summer recipes.

Dobbies Garden Centres are offering some top tips and recipes to help make growing your own easy this National Gardening Week and beyond, with some delicious results.

Louise Golden, Dobbies resident gardening expert said: “Now is a good time to plant soft fruit such as strawberries and blueberries which will be ready for your summertime harvest.

“Rhubarb is another excellent fruit to plant now but remember to leave enough room for the fruit to develop to its full size.

“This month is also the ideal time to sow seeds directly into your vegetable beds. My suggestions to sow now are beans, beetroot, lettuce and peas.

“Vegetables also grow very happily in a container which can be popped on a patio or balcony, so you can grow your own, no matter how small your garden space.

“Fresh herbs make a huge difference to home cooking, adding a real punch of flavour to salads, roasts and stews.

“They taste far better than the dried variety, and growing your own is not only cheaper than buying from the supermarket, but easy too.

“Herbs are perfect for growing in containers or window boxes, and can be positioned either by the back door or kitchen window for easy picking.

“You can choose any variety of herbs you like, with everything from rosemary and thyme to chives and sage, all of which are super versatile.

“Remember to pop plant labels next to each herb so you don’t get muddled, and position your window box in the sunniest spot you have – ensuring fresh and fragrant herbs.”

Expert advice

National Gardening Week

There will then be the chance to ask Dobbies experts questions directly with two Facebook Live Q&A sessions.

Marcus Eyles, head of horticulture, will host on Wednesday 29 April at 7pm, with a focus on grow your own.

Louise Midgley, gardening journalist, will host on Friday 1 May at 7pm, with a focus on styling your outdoor space.

Grow your own recipes

Apple and raspberry breakfast muffins

35 minutes – Makes 10 – Easy

Ingredients

200g self-raising flour

50g porridge oats, plus 1 tbsp for the topping

4 tbsp soft brown sugar

1/2 tsp cinnamon

2 apples, grated

20 frozen raspberries

1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda

2 medium-sized eggs

150ml fat-free yoghurt

6 tbsp rapeseed oil

Method

Heat the oven to 180C/160Cfan/gas4. Mix the flour, oats and 3tbsp of the sugar in a bowl with the cinnamon.

Add the apples, bicarbonate of soda, eggs, yogurt and oil, and mix everything together until everything is combined.

Line a muffin tray with 10 paper cases and half-fill them with the mixture, then dot 2 raspberries on top of each and cover with the rest of the mixture.

Mix the remaining tbsp of oats with the last of the sugar and sprinkle over the top of the muffins.

Bake for 25 minutes or until golden, risen and cooked through.

Tomato, mozzarella and polenta tart

45 minutes – Serves 6 – Easy

Ingredients

800ml vegetable stock

200g instant polenta

3 tbsp sundried tomato paste

6 large vine tomatoes

250g sliced mozzarella

Large handful of rocket

Olive oil

1 tbsp Balsamic vinegar

Method

Heat the oven to 200C/fan180C/gas6. Heat the stock in a pan until boiling, pour in the polenta in a stream, stirring continuously until very thick.

Leave to cool slightly then press into the base and sides of an oiled tin, approx. 25cm x 30cm. Bake for 20 minutes until firm.

Spread the tomato paste over the base then arrange the tomato slices and mozzarella around the edge of the tart, fill in the centre with more tomatoes and season well.

Put the tart under a hot grill for 3-4 minutes to brown then remove and allow to cool in the tin.

Top the tart with a handful of rocket and a drizzle of balsamic vinegar.

Tomato, lentil and lime soup

30 minutes – Serves 2 – Easy

Ingredients

1 onion, roughly chopped

1 large carrot, peeled and grated

Olive oil

Pinch of chilli flakes (optional)

1 tsp cumin seeds

3 tbsp puy or red lentils

1 x 400g tin chopped tomatoes

300ml vegetable stock

1 lime, juiced and zested

Crusty bread to serve

Method

Cook the onion and carrot in a little oil until softened, then add the chilli flakes (if using) and cumin seeds.

Cook for 1 minute then add the lentils, tomato and stock. Simmer for 15-20 minutes until the lentils are soft.

Blitz briefly with a stick blender so you have a semi-smooth texture, then stir in the lime juice and zest.

Serve with the crusty bread.

Strawberry and mint afternoon tea cake

40 minutes + cooling – Serves 8 – Easy

Ingredients

120g golden caster sugar

1 tbsp mint leaves

60g butter, melted, plus extra for greasing

2 eggs

120g plain flour, sifted

1/2 a jar (approx 150g) good-quality strawberry jam

227g tub clotted cream

200g punnet of strawberries, hulled and sliced, a few small ones kept whole for the top

100g icing sugar

A few drops of mint extract (optional)

Method

Whizz the mint leaves into the sugar using a food processor until very finely chopped.

Line and butter 2 x 18cm sandwich tins.

Heat the oven to 180C/fan160C/gas4.

Whisk the eggs and mint sugar together until the mixture is thick enough to hold a trail. It should look like a foam of very small bubbles, this will take up to 10 minutes, so a tabletop mixer will help.

Sift over some of the flour and fold it in carefully, then add a little more and some of the butter.

Keep folding in the flour and butter until it is all incorporated. Be careful not to squash out the air bubbles.

Carefully scoop the mixture into the tins.

Bake for 20-25 minutes or until the cakes are risen, lightly browned and spring back when pressed lightly. Cool in the tin for 5 minutes then turn out onto a rack.

Spread the base layer with some strawberry jam and layer on some clotted cream followed by some sliced strawberries.

Put the top on the cake. Mix the icing sugar with enough water to make a glacé icing that you can spoon over the cake (flavour with the mint, if you like, using a drop at a time and testing for flavour).

Run the icing back and forth across the cake to make a cross-hatch pattern and leave to set.

Add some strawberries and mint leaves to decorate.

About The Author

Rosalind Erskine

Known for cake making, experimental jam recipes, Champagne and gin drinking (and the inability to cook Gnocchi), Rosalind writes for The Scotsman on all things food and drink related.

Let us know what you think

comments