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Gardening

Gardening, Recipe

First Crop of the Season

This has been a glorious weekend so far. The weather has been fabulous, and we’ve really been able to get out and enjoy it, plus get a lot of hard work done in the garden. (Maybe more on that later.) I was quite excited to see how well my rhubarb has done. I picked up a single rhubarb plant last year at our neighbourhood garage sale, so this is the first year I could harvest. It did great and there’s still new growth coming so I’m hoping for a second harvest.

Rhubarb plant

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I love rhubarb. We always grew it when I was young, and I’ve always enjoyed rhubarb pies and jam and crumbles. It definitely isn’t the sweetest thing going, but I love its sharp tang. And you can always use lots of sugar to sweeten it in a recipe if you wish. It’s particularly good combined with strawberries.

Did you know that the leaves and roots are inedible? The leaves are poisonous and must be thrown out. You can though make an effective pesticide by boiling the leaves and combining the resulting liquid in a spray bottle with a tiny bit of liquid soap (to make the liquid stick to plants). We always just steeped the leaves in a bucket of warm water in the sun. This is a great remedy for leaf-eating insects.

To harvest rhubarb you simply grasp a nice thick stalk low to the ground and pull it free, You may need to wiggle it a little. Then chop off the white bottom of the stalk and the leaf.

I used a very special knife to do this that used to belong to my grandmother. Her father gave it to her when she got married. It eventually became her garden knife, and she always used it for the rhubarb. It is one of my most prized possessions, and I was so happy to be able to use it on my own home-grown with love rhubarb.
So what did I do with my harvest? Muffins!!
I found this recipe online, at www.rhubarbinfo.com. They turned out really yummy and moist. I used oil, not margarine. And I divided the batter into 24 muffins instead of 12 and baked for just about 20 minutes. I like smaller muffins so that Little Boo will finish one. We big kids can always have two if we want.

Rhubarb Muffins
Ingredients:
2 1/2 C. flour
2/3 C. brown sugar, packed
3 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 C. milk
1/4 C. oil or melted margarine
1/2 tsp. vanilla
1 egg, beaten
2 C. finely chopped rhubarb

Procedure:
Heat oven to 400 degrees; grease or paper line 12 muffin cups. In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Add milk, oil, vanilla and egg. Stir just until dry ingredients are moistened. Fold in rhubarb. Divide batter between muffin cups. Sprinkle tops liberally with sugar, if desired. Bake for 20 – 25 minutes, until light golden brown.
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There are all kinds of recipes on this site for rhubarb in snacks, desserts and main courses. Check it out if you’re looking for some new ideas for this great spring vegetable.

Gardening

Earth Day in the Garden

My brother and I started gardening with our grandmother as toddlers, and I’ve been actively involving Little Boo in my gardening from the time he could toddle out into the yard himself. Kids love to watch things grow. And they love to feel helpful and involved. We find this to be a fabulous activity for us to enjoy together.
Today being Earth Day I wanted to do a small project with Little Boo to mark the occasion.  So last week we went to the dollar store and he helped me pick out peat pots, a bag of soil, and some seeds. I think this was a total of $3 plus tax. Cheap fun!

I put the peat pots into an old cake pan to keep them from leaking all over the house. Little Boo used my old trowel to fill the pots. (He has his own gardening tools, but I’ll be damned if I could find them in the shed today.)

He chose the pumpkin seeds to sow first. (Like his Spongebob gardening gloves? Zellers on clearance for $2. Love!)

 

Golden wax beans. He said they looked like they had chocolate on them. And, on the topic of Earth Day, do these seed packets really need to be so big??

Little Boo placed the seeds into the pots and I covered them with more soil and tamped them down. He watered them, and then I covered the pots with plastic wrap and placed them in indirect light near the front window. (The plastic wrap is to keep them moist and warm. Once the seedlings come up enough to touch it, it comes off.)

Now we wait and see if they germinate. I explained to Little Boo how the peat pots will break down in the garden, and how this is is helpful as we won’t have to disturb the plants’ roots when we put them out. I also explained (a couple of times) that we have to wait before they can go in the garden because it is still too early and cold. He is pretty eager to see the sprouting. Hence the beans. Beans and peas are always a good option for kids, because they germinate really quickly and they tend to be pretty hardy. Another good option is radishes – in my experience these veggies will grow on a rock. Ok, slight exaggeration, but they are incredibly easy to grow even in poor soil conditions. An easy way for a kid to find some success in gardening.

We’ll do some more seeds later and will be planting a variety of veggies from the garden centre once the weather warms and I get the beds in shape. For now Little Boo is keeping busy with creatively displaying his rock collection:

Pretty good hey? 🙂

Did you do anything to mark Earth Day today? I’d love to hear about it!!