13 superb soup recipes

Hand ladling out soup from a pot into a bowl

Try out these delicious plot-to-bowl recipes
Image: Chainupong Hiporn

Homemade soup isn’t just good for the soul – it’s a healthy, wholesome and cost-effective meal that makes excellent use of homegrown veg. 

If you’re taking part in this week’s Big Soup Share, or you’re looking for new ideas to fill your family’s soup bowls and lunch flasks, check out some of our favourite bloggers’ recipes for inspiration…


Beetroot Soup

Kev at An English Homestead grows such beautiful chioggia beetroot that it’s almost a shame to blend them. His velvety red soup is a feast for the eyes as well as a vitamin-packed winner on a cold winter’s day.

Borage Leaf, Pea and Garden Mint Soup

At The Seasonal Table, Kathy & Tom use borage as a companion plant alongside tomatoes. The fact that the cucumber-flavoured leaves make a beautifully light and delicious soup is an added bonus. Top with a fresh hen’s egg and serve with crusty bread – sensational.

Carrot and Saffron Soup

Come November, Milli at the Crofters Cottage is looking forward to harvesting ‘Jaune d’Obtuse’ carrots that range in colour from almost white to a vibrant yellow. Her beautifully delicate-flavoured soup is simply divine.

Nettle Soup

Nettle soup isn’t rocket science,” says Janie, dismissing a disappointing celebrity chef’s version to come up with her own. Want a good excuse to let weeds run riot in your garden? This iron-rich bowl of green goodness is it! See Hedgecombers for the recipe.

Celeriac and Hazelnut Soup

Celeriac can be expensive to buy but it’s easy to grow. Blitzing to a silky consistency, this ugly root veg is perfect for winter soups. Over at The Veg Space, Kate’s festive flavour combination would make the ideal starter for Christmas dinner…

Image: chomplearn

Creamy Avocado Soup

Served warm rather than hot, Shaheen’s “delicious blanket of green velvet lushness” combines the flavours of Mexican guacamole in an exciting new way. Homegrown onions, tomatoes and chives raise it to a new level. See Allotment 2 Kitchen for the recipe.

Wild Garlic and Farro Soup 

Over at Recipes from a Pantry, Bintu loves foraging for wild garlic. Her soup is the ideal way to warm up after a brisk winter walk in the woods – just think nutty farro, garlicky greens, lemony tahini and sweetness from toasted almonds and pomegranate seeds.

Roasted Roots Soup

Roasting only improves the flavour of root vegetables, enhancing their earthy sweetness, say Sophie & Ade from Agents of Field. For the ultimate bowl of comfort soup, this is the recipe for you.

Marrow 'Tiger Cross' F1 Hybrid from Thompson & Morgan

Image: Marrow ‘Tiger Cross’ F1 Hybrid from Thompson & Morgan

Marrow Soup

Marrows make for a silky smooth soup, say Maria & John at Allotment Garden. But if you’re looking for texture, simply add some cooked rice or soup pasta – along with a generous dash of chilli sauce to turn up the heat.

Sweet Potato, Green Lentil and Spinach Soup

Fancy a comforting and hearty soup that’ll help you get to your five-a-day in one sitting? Try Jacqueline’s sweet potato, green lentil & spinach recipe. Check out Tinned Tomatoes for this amazing recipe.

Curried Brussels Sprouts Soup

Don’t like Brussel’s sprouts? You’ll be surprised what a difference a little garam masala makes! Blended until smooth, Annabelle’s high fibre soup is full of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants to see you safely through winter. Visit The Flexitarian for the recipe.

A leek and potato soup with croutons

Image: grafvision

Vegan Leek and Potato Soup

Leek soup is one of Lucy’s favourite homemade wintertime treats – especially if it’s made with fresh, flavoursome leeks and onions that she’s grown herself. See her easy recipe over on The Smallest Smallholding.

Roasted Jerusalem Artichoke and Sweet Chestnut Soup

Nic says “there’s nothing better than soup…to warm your cockles when your heart’s feeling chilly, for whatever reason.” A glut of Jerusalem artichokes required her to get creative, but you’ll want to plant more when you’ve tasted this soup! Visit dogwooddays for the recipe.

That’s it for now. We hope you like our favourite soup recipes and you’ve bookmarked some to try later, and if you’re planning on planting out some ingredients, check out our veg plants range. Let us know if you’ve come across anything that we’ve missed. We’re especially keen on soups that use edible pumpkin innards…!

12 more gardening YouTubers

Woman filming herself repotting plants on YouTube

Get your gardening questions answered by some of the best green-fingered YouTubers
Image: Elnur

Are you always on the lookout for inspiring and informative gardening YouTube channels? Last time we featured some of the best gardeners of the vlogosphere, we were overwhelmed by your response. Here then, is a selection of vloggers we missed first time round – 12 more gardening YouTubers who know their onions – and a lot more besides…

Alternative Smallholding

Jaz holding up a oversized onion from Alternative Smallholding

Even while on holiday, Jaz couldn’t wait to get back to her allotment
Image: Alternative Smallholding

Do you find it hard to sleep in unfamiliar surroundings? When Jaz, the ‘Alternative Smallholder,’ was on holiday recently, she lay awake wondering how well her onions and garlic were faring under their protective enviromesh cover. No wonder that as soon as she got back, she went straight to her allotment to check!

You know your onions and garlic are ready to harvest when the tops begin to wilt and turn brown, explains the Alternative Smallholding family. This is one of our favourite vlogs – a “journey towards living a simple, happy life through growing our own food, raising tiny raptors (aka chickens) & dreaming of our own smallholding.” That onion harvest? Bumper.

Castle Hill Garden

Cliff from Castle Hill Garden standing in front of his tomato plants

Cliff has green-fingered advice for gardens of all sizes
Image: Castle Hill Garden

As you water your greenhouse tomatoes, you’ll notice two things, says Cliff, the Castle Hill Gardener. First, that the lower leaves can get in the way of watering, and second, that over time, the compost washes out, leaving roots exposed to the air. The answer? Trim and top up – without removing too much.

The Castle Hill Garden vlog shows you exactly what to do. Friendly, and informative, it’s ideal for anyone new to gardening, plus those looking to pick up extra tips from someone whose chatty, down to earth style makes the information so much more accessible.

Dave’s Allotment

Dave from Dave's Allotment in his greenhouse

Dave’s down to earth YouTube channel is chock full of advice
Image: Dave’s Allotment

Fish blood and bone – dried blood – just what every plant needs for a good start in life, says Dave, of Dave’s Allotment. Today he’s planting cucumbers in his greenhouse in buckets with the bases cut off, inserted into a deep raised bed. Cucumbers don’t like to sit around in too much water, so the buckets help to direct the water to the roots.

First I’ll get the kettle on,” is Dave’s approach to gardening. Here you’ll get a super-friendly vibe from the North East of England, plus gardening tips and insights galore. Brand new to allotmenteering? Check out Dave’s Back to Basics series – everything you need to know to get started.

Digging for Dinner

Joe from Digging For Dinner holding secetaurs

Want to grow the best tomatoes ever? Then make sure you follow Joe’s advice
Image: Digging For Dinner

Know the difference between determinate and indeterminate tomatoes? Joe from Digging for Dinner shows you the difference, plus how to get the best harvests.

Indeterminate tomatoes keep on growing, so take off anything too low that’s of no benefit to the plant. Determinate tomatoes, Digging for Dinner says, need little intervention – just snip off anything in contact with the soil to prevent disease.

The fact that tomatoes are Joe’s favourite allotment crop, plus his great attention to detail, mean that this video really does live up to the promise of helping you to “Grow the Best Tomatoes Ever.” Digging for Dinner is proof of what’s possible with a little know how and elbow grease.

Erica’s Little Welsh Garden

Runner Bean 'Firestorm' from Thompson & Morgan

Make planting beans exciting with Erica’s methods
Image: Runner Bean ‘Firestorm’ from Thompson & Morgan

Are your beans boring? Erica’s were, but she’s put some more thought into it this year – ‘Black Coco’ dwarf French beans, ‘Simm’s Corsair’ runner beans, and ‘Brecon Black’, a variety from a Welsh seed library. Fascinating stuff, and we look forward to seeing how the different runner bean varieties fare in Erica’s Little Welsh Garden.

Or course, with growing more than one variety of bean, there’s always the distinct possibility of cross-pollination, but here too, Erica shares her tips for minimising the risks. A great channel – Erica is a friendly presenter with lots of great info to share.

Byther Farm

Liz from Byther Farm sitting in her garden

Updating tri-weekly, Liz’s channel covers life on an organic farmstead
Image: Byther Farm

Looking for some easy perennial veg to grow year-after-year? How about Taunton Deane Kale? Cabbagey and sweet but not overly strong, says Byther Farm’s Liz Zorab. Also try Eyptian walking onions – you can use the leaves and the bulbs. And how about Walking Stick Cabbage which can grow to a staggering 10 feet high.

Catch up on the latest gardening action on an organic farmstead in rural Monmouthshire – the scene for Liz and her partner’s gardening exploits. Byther Farm is an excellent channel for anyone interested in organic growing. Fancy making your own chive blossom vinegar? Liz shows you how to make this gorgeous pink condiment.

Homegrown Garden

Katrina from Homegrown Garden holding a plastic bottle

Katrina uses 2 litre water bottle as a nifty gardening hack
Image: Homegrown Garden

Find out all about companion planting to help stop bugs and pests getting at your tomatoes. From her new polytunnel, Katrina takes you right through planting and tying indoor tomatoes – her tip – bury a 2 litre water bottle with holes beside each tomato plant – by topping up the bottle, she delivers fluid direct to the root.

Three years with no blight shows this is a winning idea, and it’s just one of a wealth of tips you’ll discover courtesy of allotmenteer, Katrina. With no garden of her own, Katrina has taken to the allotment with great enthusiasm and creates a fascinating video diary to share her Homegrown Garden exploits.

Jane Kelly

Jane Kelly sitting in the garden

Jane’s friendly demeanour makes learning new gardening tricks fun
Image: Jane Kelly

Wondering about the best way to create an asparagus bed? Let Jane show you how as she creates one – something she’s always wanted but never got round to before. You’ll need a trench, some well rotted manure, a sprinkling of fertilizer, and of course your “spiders from Mars.”

Space your crowns a foot apart, spread the tendril-like roots and, after you’ve covered them, give the plants a good water. You’ll love Jane Kelly’s channel – with her warm and friendly style, she makes learning fun. Oh, and check out her shed – the perfect place to drink tea!

Lavender and Leeks

Katie from Lavender & Leeks picking mint from her garden

If you fancy going plot to plate, make sure you tune into Katie’s recipe vlogs
Image: Lavender and Leeks

Growing is only one half of the allotment equation – the other is eating your produce. Join Lavender and Leeks creator, Katie as she shares delicious dishes made from tasty fruit and veg from her own patch. Rhubarb crumble cake sound tempting? Join Katie in her beautiful little 6 x 4 shed as she cooks up a storm for you.

Slightly cramped the shed might be – especially with lemon balm hanging from the roof to dry – but you’ll be surprised and inspired by what you can do with such a small space. And while she’s waiting for the crumble to cook, it’s back out to take care of the gardening. Fun, informative and definitely tasty, Lavender and Leeks is a must.

Muddy Bootz

Nigel from Muddy Bootz in his garden

Nigel likes to start his gardening at daybreak
Image: Muddy Bootz

If you want to join Nigel, aka Muddy Bootz, at his allotment, you’ll have to get up early. “It’s just gone five o’clock, and it’s only just me and the birds out” – he says – “and it’s fantastic!” That’s one way to get your tomatoes in “early.”

After a quick cuppa, it’s on to planting cucumbers and tomatoes in the greenhouse – this year this allotmenteer is trialing heritage tomato ‘Harbinger’ along with old favourites, ‘Mountain Magic,’ ‘Crimson Crush’ and ‘Sweet Million’. You’ll discover great gardening here, and an engineering solution to prevent your plant halos getting clogged with soil during planting.

What Vivi Did Next

Vivi sitting in her garden with lavender in the background

Follow Vivi’s frugal smallholding lifestyle for money-saving tips
Image: What Vivi Did Next

Could you live off the land? Former nurse, Vivi was forced to quit her job in her late forties because of her dodgy knees. So what did Vivi do next? She took to a frugal goodlife and has thrived ever since.

The “Good Life” is hard graft, but it has its compensations – like harvesting lavender which, Vivi says you should do when the flowers have budded but not yet opened – that’s when the essential oils are at their most concentrated. What Vivi Did Next is full of frugal tips, and growing wisdom, but more than that, it’s a window into an alternative lifestyle that’s cash poor, but all the richer for it.

The Small Garden Channel

George from The Small Garden Channel

Let veteran gardener George solve your small gardening dilemmas
Image: The Small Garden Channel

Watch as George gives growing courgettes in a bale of straw a try. First, wet your bale for three or four days to get it to begin composting, then leave for six days to heat up. The result? The courgettes were something of a triumph, but that’s not all.

The straw is an excellent source of carbon for the compost heap, and when strewn over the lawn before mowing, mixes with grass clippings to make it instantly compostable. After running a 22 acre estate, retired George now tends a small garden and shares his many years of knowledge on The Small Garden Channel. Wonderfully warm and informative, George is as charming and erudite a YouTube presenter as you could wish for.

That’s it for now – but if you’re keen for more, check out our original post called 10 top gardening YouTube channels and bookmark the ones.

10 bloggers who review gorgeous gardens to visit

English garden in full bloom

Spend your time in some of the nation’s best gardens
Image: Yolanta

Did you know that the gardens at Chatsworth are being transformed? Have you always wanted to immerse yourself in the jungle at The Lost Gardens of Heligan? Visiting gardens is something of a national occupation for us Brits. And with good reason, because here in the UK we have some of the most beautiful stately homes, gardens, and parks to be found anywhere. To give you a taste of the best of the best gardens, here we present our pick of bloggers who review gorgeous gardens – enjoy. 

Susan Rushton

The Dorothy Clive Garden with a laburnum arch

Magical – the Dorothy Clive Garden’s laburnum arch in all its glory
Image: Susan Rushton

A laburnum arch in full flower? You’ll have to time your visit just right if you want to see the one at the Dorothy Clive Garden in Shropshire. Garden, nature, and photography enthusiast, Susan Rushton just missed it in 2015, but saw it in all its glory this year – and has this beautiful photograph to prove it.

Think rhododendrons are a little too showy? Check out Susan’s incredible photography – she used to think so, but not any more. Her visit to this atmospheric garden proved to her that: “rhodis can be as ethereally lovely as any plant you’ll find in a shady spot.

The Green Fingered Blog

Abbey House Garden – clever use of planting makes the most of the ruin
Image: The Green Fingered Blog

‘Borrowing the landscape’ is a well known garden design trick, but they way it’s done here is cleverer than most.” So says Paul at The Green Fingered Blog. His visit to Abbey House Gardens in Malmesbury in Wiltshire just goes to prove how visiting professionally designed gardens can help provide the inspiration you need to get the most out of your garden at home.

At Abbey House, it’s the planting that leads the eye to the Abbey ruins next door that has Paul excited. And then there’s the use of focal points and the curve of the lawn. We can’t all live next door to a spectacular ancient ruin, but we can benefit from this blogger’s beautifully considered Abbey House Gardens masterclass.

Pumpkin Beth

The Victoria Garden, Farnham
Photo © David960 (cc-by-sa/2.0)

Isn’t a peaceful retreat at the heart of a busy town centre, exactly what every shopper needs? In Farnham – there is just such a place. The Farnham Swimming Baths Trust is a charitable organisation that has created a truly magical garden from the town’s derelict Victorian outdoor swimming pool.

With mosaic hopscotch for the children, and for the adults, rose-covered arches and sculptures to enjoy – there really is something for everyone at the Victoria Garden. As for Pumpkin Beth – a self-confessed “gardening evangelist”, she grows the best organic pumpkins around!


Lost Gardens of Heligan from Haarkon

The nearest you’ll get to a jungle in the UK – the Lost Gardens of Heligan
Image: Haarkon

It’s probably one of the most romantic names for a garden imaginable – The Lost Gardens of Heligan – in deepest, darkest Cornwall. They’re actually not that lost, according to India and Magnus of Haarkon – in fact they’re very much found. All the same, expect to discover “the closest we’ve been to an outdoor jungle in this country”.

Haarkon is all about celebrating “people, processes and the often-overlooked details of life”, and the result is a completely unique blog experience which features some truly incredible photography from all around the world. Thinking of making the trip to Cornwall’s most famous lost garden? Find out what lies in store right here.

Garden Visit

Visit Sandy Lodge to discover how to make your garden more bird-friendly
Image: E Gatehouse

Take a stroll around a wildlife garden in the heart of Bedfordshire. The grounds of Sandy Lodge, the home of the RSPB, take the concept of bird-friendly to a level you won’t find elsewhere, and so they’re well worth a visit for anyone interested in tempting bird life to their patch.

Garden Visit is a superb resource for anyone interested in exploring UK gardens and parks – and has plenty of information about far flung botanical treats too. A site where you’ll find concise reviews along with opening times and directions, Garden Visit is a must for gardeners everywhere.

The Frustrated Gardener

Visit Cornwall’s Morrab Gardens to see sub-tropical plants flourish!
Image: Giz Edwards

Walking towards Morrab House one passes through a damp glade filled with enormous tree ferns,” says The Frustrated Gardener, Dan. Morrab Public Gardens in Penzance are testament to the Victorians’ obsession with collecting, there being a sizeable ensemble of sub-tropical plants gifted by some of Cornwall’s most famous plant collectors.

Well worth a look if coastal gardening is your yen – Dan himself gardens a seaside plot in Broadstairs, Kent, and his own efforts are well worth a look. The highlight of Dan’s visit to Morrab? “Succulents, including the mighty Agave Americana, opuntias, aloes and aeoniums.

The Chatty Gardener

Chatsworth House from The Chatty Gardener

Chatsworth in all its glory as the transformation of the gardens begin
Image: The Chatty Gardener 

Get the lowdown on the Chatsworth House transformation. It’s a work in progress says The Chatty Gardener, Mandy, but you can already catch a glimpse of how it’s going to look when complete. These alterations will be the “biggest since changes by Joseph Paxton more than 200 years ago.”

Exciting times – the developments at the great Derbyshire estate are well worth discovering for yourself. Four new glades and a bog garden are just two of the planned works, says Mandy, a dedicated gardener and 2018 PPA Garden Journalist of the Year.

Kevin Gelder

The stunning hot border at Renishaw
Image: Kevin Gelder

Looking for inspiration for your summer herbaceous borders? Take a turn around the gardens of Derbyshire’s Renishaw House with gardener, blogger, and writer, Kevin Gelder. Full of pinks, purples and blues, the Renishaw borders are “almost overwhelmingly beautiful”, crescendoing from the lawn-edge planting to the yew hedges behind.

You’ll also find a sparkling “white garden”, as well as a perfectly stunning hot border featuring nasturtiums, white buddlejas, roses and clematis. And before you leave, Kevin says, do stop to admire the statuesque lilies which, planted alongside roses, are a scent sensation not to be missed.

Carrots and Calendula

Ruined Nymans in its autumn splendour
Image: Carrots and Calendula

How about some theatrical beauty? Overlooking the South Downs, Nymans, replete with romantic ruins, must be one of the loveliest gardens to visit any time of year. Catch it in summer for its blazing borders, or go there during the autumn when you’ll be rewarded with beautiful salvias offset against the flame colours of the trees in the background.

A serious fire ravaged Nymans during the late 1940s, but the family still live in the usable part of the house. A visit should include a browse around the second-hand bookshop and – of course – the plant shop. When she’s not visiting gardens, Ciar of Carrots and Calendula cultivates a sunny suburban plot in East Sussex.

The garden gate is open

Wander the paths of this extraordinary healing garden in the heart of Chelsea
Image: The Garden Gate is Open

Now for a “remarkable garden originally created in 1673 by the Apothecaries in which to grow medicinal plants.” When Julia, the blogger behind The Garden Gate is Open had a few hours to spare during a visit to London, she decided to call in at the Chelsea Physic Garden – four acres of calm in the heart of the busy metropolis.

Look out for beautiful woven sculptures by Tom Hare, a stunning collection of cacti, a fernery, and much more. And if you’d like to know more about the wonderful plantings at this historic garden, an audio tour will keep you informed as you wander. This blog is full of wonderful gardens to visit – take a look and you’ll discover some gems.

Did we miss one of your favourite blogs or gardens to visit? Drop us a line via our Facebook page and we’ll try to feature it next time.

Grow your own summer drinks recipes

People sitting around a table in the summer

Enjoy sharing homegrown food and drinks this summer 
Image: Jack Frog 

There’s nothing more satisfying than sharing fresh, homegrown produce with friends and family on a warm summer evening. Except, perhaps, relaxing with a cool sundowner to properly enjoy the garden you’ve spent all year working on!

We asked green-fingered bloggers to tell us their favourite homegrown summer drinks recipes. From light and refreshing cordials the whole family can enjoy, through to something a little stronger to keep you warm as the sun goes down, here’s how to distil a glut into a glass.

Non-alcoholic summer drinks


Richard’s mint lemonade

Stock image of a lemon and lime drink

Zesty and refreshing, this lemonade tastes even better with local honey
Image: Artsyslik

Richard over at The veg grower podcast has a quick and easy recipe for homemade lemonade that tastes so much more delicious than anything you can buy in a shop. To get the maximum flavour from your garden mint, he recommends making the ‘syrup’ the night before and adding soda water just before serving.

You will need:

  • mint leaves
  • lemons
  • limes
  • honey
  • soda water

Katie’s strawberry and elderflower cordial

Katie's Strawberry and elderflower cordial from Lavender and Leeks

Intensely fragrant and delicious
Image: Lavender and Leeks

According to Katie over at Lavender and Leeks, the combination of elderflower and strawberries is “a match made in heaven.” Not only is the smell of her strawberry and elderflower cordial amazing, it’s lovely with plain water, soda water, lemonade, prosecco or even added to cake mixtures and jams. In short, it adds a welcome shot of sunshine to almost anything you like.

You will need:

  • strawberries
  • elderflower heads
  • lemons
  • limes
  • caster sugar
  • citric acid
  • water

Lou’s ginger and thyme fizz

This spicy mocktail is a winner with all ages
Image: Little Green Shed

Over at Little Green Shed, Lou’s simple recipe for a delicious non-alcoholic cocktail is a great way to jazz up an impromptu barbecue. Family-friendly, and healthier than reaching for a beer, a long glass of this ginger and thyme fizz has a botanical undertone that’s hard to resist.

You will need:

  • fresh ginger
  • fresh thyme
  • lemon
  • runny honey
  • ice cubes
  • sparkling water

Choclette’s strawberry rose mint fizz

This simple alcohol-free aperitif is the perfect way to start any summer event
Image: Tin & Thyme

The strawberry hit is as good as a Wimbledon grand slam – it’s delightful with subtle undertones of fragrant rose, fresh mint and cooling ice” says Choclette, sharing her Strawberry rose mint fizz recipe over on Tin & Thyme. The secret to this delicious drink is the rose syrup, which Choclette makes herself. Check out the full recipe on her blog to find out how.

You will need:

  • strawberries
  • rose syrup
  • mint
  • ice cubes
  • fizzy water

Robin’s nettle cordial

Red nettle cordial from Eat Weeds

Turn annoying weeds into healthy elixirs!
Image: Eat Weeds

If keeping on top of weeds is a constant battle in your garden or allotment, you’ll be delighted for this delicious excuse to relax courtesy of Robin Harford over at Eat Weeds. His nettle cordial tastes like nothing you’ve ever tried before. What’s more, nettles are good for you – naturally high in antioxidants and polyphenols – powerful compounds believed to help with inflammation, obesity, cancer, and heart disease. Keep this pink cordial in your fridge for up to four weeks and add to water, soda water or lemonade when guests arrive. They’ll never guess your secret ingredient!

You will need:

  • freshly picked nettle tops
  • granulated sugar
  • citric acid
  • water

Grace’s strawberry, cucumber and mint infused water

A healthy alternative to sugary drinks
Image: Eats Amazing

Inspired by tall jugs of perfectly chilled Pimm’s, Grace from Eats Amazing suggests a alcohol-free version that children will love. “I’m a great believer in eating with your eyes,” says Grace, so she serves her strawberry and cucumber and mint infusion in clear bottles or mason jars to give it real visual impact. If your children aren’t keen on plain water, perhaps growing their own simple ingredients will encourage them to experiment with healthy alternatives to sugary drinks. Check out Grace’s blog for the full recipe and more inspiration.

You will need:

  • cucumber
  • strawberries
  • mint sprigs
  • water

Alcoholic summer drinks


Nick’s ‘cool as a minty cucumber’ cocktail

This cool classic tastes even better when you’ve grown the ingredients yourself
Image: Two Thirsty Gardeners

We’re not suggesting that Nick grows mint and cucumber just to give his ‘cool as a minty cucumber’ cocktail a more interesting twist, but when you’re a ‘Thirsty Gardener’ it’s entirely possible! This zesty aperitif is a great way to welcome friends and family to a summer drinks party. Not to be outdone, the other ‘Thirsty Gardener,’ Rich, shares his delicious rhubarb collins recipe in the same post. Two Two Thirsty Gardeners’ drinks recipes for the price of one…

You will need:

  • gin
  • mint leaves
  • a slice of cucumber
  • half a lime
  • tonic water
  • ice

Janie’s blackcurrant cassis

blackcurrant drink

Deliciously more-ish cassis can be added to a wide number of cocktails
Image: 5PH

If you grow blackcurrants, this one’s for you. Janie at The Hedgecombers describes this delectable blackcurrant cassis syrup as a bottle of pure summer: “At first sip you get the scent of fresh blackcurrants, quickly followed by a nice warm glow before tailing off with the sweet childhood taste of Ribena. Weird and wonderful all at the same time!” Check out the full recipe over on her blog.

You will need:

  • blackcurrants
  • sugar
  • brandy

Eli’s elderflower champagne

Elderflower champagne is not as difficult to make as you might think
Image: Antonina Vlasova

Ever tried making your own elderflower champagne? Eli and Kate share two slightly different recipes over at their blog In the garden & the kitchen with Eli & Kate, including useful tasting notes to help you decide which is best for you. If you’re surrounded by elders in bloom, brewing your own bubbles is a great way to celebrate nature’s bounty! Read their full post to see just how easy it is to make.

You will need:

  • elderflowers
  • lemons
  • sugar
  • champagne yeast

Helen’s rhubarb and ginger gin

Don’t waste a glut of homegrown rhubarb on crumbles and fools!
Image: Fuss Free Flavours

After receiving a bottle of rhubarb gin as a gift one Christmas, Helen set out to create a homemade version of her own. The resulting rhubarb and ginger gin recipe is shared over on her blog – Fuss Free Flavours – along with some clever twists and serving suggestions. The trick for achieving such a beautiful colour? Pick the pinkest rhubarb stems advises Helen. “Stronger, cheaper and far better tasting than buying a ready made – what is not to love?

You will need:

  • rhubarb stalks
  • white caster sugar
  • gin
  • fresh ginger

Milli’s rhubarb vodka martini

A summery twist on the classic cocktail
Image: Crofter’s Cottage

Milli over at Crofter’s Cottage describes the blustery beauty of her homegrown rhubarb with infectious joy: “Slender long legs in an elegant shade of green, a hat, bigger and floppier than anyone else’s, wearing those daring, bright pink shoes; she’d be well at home at any summer party!” Who could refuse a sip of Milli’s rhubarb vodka martini after that show-stopping introduction! And adding a dried rose petal to finish your summer cocktails is simply inspired.

You will need:

  • rhubarb
  • vodka
  • sugar
  • vermouth
  • dash of bitters
  • dried garden rose petals (optional)

Wendy’s strawberry cocktail with basil

strawberry and basil cocktail

An unexpected hint of basil takes this simple cocktail to a whole new level
Image: AnikonaAnn

If, like Wendy over at Moral Fibres, you’ve been eagerly anticipating the arrival of strawberry season, you’ll love her strawberry cocktail with basil served over crushed ice. When in season, British strawberries are bursting with flavour in a way that imported counterparts simply cannot match, says Wendy. Do you grow your own strawberries? If you suddenly find yourself with more ripe fruits than you can eat, Wendy’s clever tips for making them last longer are a great way to prevent wasting this precious summer fruit.

You will need:

  • strawberries
  • fresh basil
  • gin
  • tonic water
  • lime
  • granulated sugar
  • ice cubes

Sarah’s rosehip liqueur

Similar to sloe gin, rosehip liqueur is an excellent way to enjoy local hedgerows 
Image: Craft Invaders

Sarah’s rosehip liqueur is so good that she hides it from her husband in case he drinks it all before it matures! Made from hips collected from the wild dog rose bushes growing in hedgerows around her house, Sarah harvests after the first frosts and stores her foraged bounty in the freezer until she’s ready to make her liqueur. Prized for their health benefits and packed full of vitamin C, Sarah says “syrup made from these fruits has a long history of being used here in the UK to prevent colds.” If you return from your summer holiday with a sniffle, or just fancy something a little different for cooler evenings around a camp fire, this is the drink for you. Get the full recipe and instructions over at the Craft Invaders blog.

You will need:

  • rosehips
  • lemon
  • cloves
  • cinnamon stick
  • brandy
  • soft brown sugar

We hope you’ve enjoyed our round-up of homegrown and foraged summer drinks recipes. If you do decide to try some of them over the next few months, tag us on your photos and show us how you celebrate long warm summer evenings in your garden.

How to stop cats using your garden for a toilet

Fluffy ginger cat walking along a fence

Looking for ways to prevent unwanted cats visiting your garden?
Image: lkoimages

Fed up with neighbourhood cats fouling your flower beds, digging up seedlings, and damaging your plants? Potential solutions to the problem are many, but no one method is 100% successful, which is why it’s best to deploy an integrated anti-cat strategy. Think of yourself as a Monty battling the moggies, it’s time to plan an effective – non-harmful – campaign to rid your garden of cats. Here are some tried-and-tested options…

Secure your outer perimeter

British shorthair cat clambering over a fence

Make your boundaries difficult to navigate
Image: Tomas Wolfschlager

Make getting into your garden as awkward for cats as you can, and they’ll slink off to use someone else’s flower beds for their relief. Try stretching a string or wire a few inches above your fence line, or fix a band of soft, collapsible fencing to the top of your garden wall or fence – cats will find it tricky to negotiate these kind of hazards, and won’t be able to rest on top of your fence.

You might also like to try tacking chicken wire to your fence top, angling it away from your garden so cats will have to hang backwards if they’re determined to access your backyard. Do bear in mind, however, these kind of solutions look somewhat unsightly – you have to be pretty desperate to resort to them!

Border defences

Lavender and gravel garden planting scheme

The combination of lavender and gravel is unpleasant to cats
Image: Del Boy

Cats love to be comfortable while about their “business”, so make your patch as unpleasant as you can and, with luck, they’ll seek alternative arrangements. Cats hate the feel of chicken wire under their sensitive paws, so place a layer over your flower beds, cutting holes through which your plants can grow.

Alternatively, use a sharp gravel mulch, put down eggshells, sprinkle holly leaves, or place pine cones around the base of trees whose bark you wish to protect from cats’ clawing and climbing. Cats love dry, loose soil for their toilet, so water well and fill your borders with plants so they don’t have room to squat.

Plants to deter cats

Coleus canina (scaredy-cat plant) from Thompson & Morgan

The scent of the ‘scaredy-cat’ plant deters cats, dogs, rabbits and foxes
Image: Coleus canina (scaredy-cat plant) from Thompson & Morgan

Cats have a powerful sense of smell which you can use against them. By growing plants with strong perfumes that cats find distasteful, you make your garden a whole lot less attractive to feline visitors. Bear in mind that, just as some cats don’t love the smell of catnip, not all cats react to plants intended to deter them – but these are definitely worth including in your strategy:

  • Lavender – this garden favourite produces dainty purple flowers and smells divine to us humans. Bees love it and cats do not.
  • Rosemary – a kitchen staple, rosemary is a hit with pollinators. It prefers a sunny spot with well-drained soil.
  • Rue – once known as a medicinal herb, rue has bluish foliage and yellow flowers – grow with caution because rue is poisonous and physical contact can cause skin blistering.
  • Lemon balm – cats don’t like the smell of citrus and will avoid plants that smell of it.
  • Pennyroyal – with a powerful spearmint smell, this plant is an antiseptic, and an insect repellant.
  • Scaredy cat – specially bred as a cat deterrent, coleus canina smells horrible to cats and other animals but, provided you don’t touch the leaves, you won’t be able to pick up the whiff of dog urine this plant emits.

Chemical warfare against cats

Hand holding watering can pouring water over a flowerbed

Water around your flowers with a vinegar solution, or try heavily scented essential oils
Image: iko

Jeyes fluid and mothballs are often touted as effective cat deterrents, but they’re poisonous to cats and other animals. Natural options are a better alternative to using harmful chemicals to repel cats.

Try spraying white vinegar diluted in water – but be cautious – a vinegar solution won’t harm acid loving plants, but could potentially damage other garden plants if it’s too concentrated. That being the case, another option is to soak tea bags or cotton wool balls in vinegar and place them strategically about the garden – cats don’t like the smell and will avoid them.

Moggies are also dislike the smell of citrus and other herbal extracts – add a few drops of essential oils to your watering can. Citronela, lavender, orange, peppermint are all effective, especially when you use them in combination.

Cat scarers

Pest XT Solar Powered Ultrasonic Flash Pest Repeller from Thompson & Morgan

Cats will avoid the high-pitched screech of sonic scarers
Image: Pest XT Solar Powered Ultrasonic Flash Pest Repeller from Thompson & Morgan

Sonic cat scarers are a proven technique for scaring cats away. When animals cross the sensor, these systems emit a high-pitched sound barely audible to the human ear but very uncomfortable for cats.

Unfortunately cats sometimes get used to the sound from a sonic system and learn to ignore it, others will ignore it from the get go; still others learn to walk around the problem, and foul other parts of your garden. Sound is one weapon in your arsenal, but it’s far from the whole deal.

Attack is the best means of defence

Cats and water don’t mix
Image: Pest XT Battery Powered Jet Spray Cat Repeller from Thompson & Morgan

Cats hate to get wet, and learn to fear the jet from a spray cat repeller. It works when the cat triggers a sensor, switching on a water spray connected to your garden hose – they’ll pelt for the fence as fast as their paws can carry them.

Cats make wonderful pets but when they use your garden as a public convenience, they’re a “purr–fect” nuisance. Hopefully these anti-cat measures will keep your lawn clean – if not, perhaps it’s time you resorted to the “nuclear” option – a dog.


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