Bridget

Posts Tagged ‘rhubarb’

Seasonal plants, Water and the craziness of Fracking.

In Foraging., sustainable living on April 23, 2012 at 1:03 pm

Rhubarb season is in full swing now. Jam has been made, chutney recipes are being searched out and crumbles are on the menu. Last night I made a Strawberry, Rhubarb and Sweet Cicely crumble. Delicious! In our haste to eat it I forgot to take a pic to tease you with.

The Daffodils have lasted such a long time this year. They are starting to lose their vibrancy now but they’ve been flowering for about 6 weeks. Usually the Spring brings lots of rain and wind which flattens them pretty quickly, but this year we have actually had a Spring with proper Spring weather.      Huge areas of England are already in drought conditions with hose bans in force in many areas. I find it crazy that in midst of their water shortage the English government have given the go ahead to the resumption of hydraulic fracturing for gas in Lancanshire. This destructive process using millions of gallons of water each day to fracture the rock which then releases the gas.  This water is then poisoned with chemicals and naturally occuring heavy metals and radioactive elements. So poisoned that it is not reusable by man or beast. It does’nt make sense to me. We need to remember that all the water that will ever be is already on the Planet. It is not a renewable resource. 

In the back field the big Sycamore is in full leaf . I really love this tree and how it’s branches have taken the shape of outstretched arms…reaching to the heavens in it’s daily worship of Mother Nature.

Underneath the kitchen window this little Azalea is about to burst into full bloom. It never fails to give a great display year on year.

On the lane Primroses are giving their annual display. All parts of the plant are edible and a few of the flowers look lovely decorating a salad. An infusion of the fresh plant can be used to make a cough remedy and a mildly sedative tea. It is however protected in the wild so unless you have a profusion of them in your own garden it’s best to admire them and leave them to Nature.

A  plant which you can pick to your heart’s content is Sorrel. It gives a lovely lemony kick to a mixed salad and can be cooked as a vegetable. The succulent leaves are pleasant to eat raw and are a great thirst quencher. It grows in abundance here as it likes the damp, acidic soil. Mother Nature provides.

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Gifts from here and there…

In Garden, green living on March 29, 2012 at 4:27 pm

Gifts come in many ways.  From friends, family, husband or wife or even people you “know” through their blogs. One such gift was the Very Inspiring Blogger Award given recently by Kevin over at www.nittygrittydirtman.wordpress.com . Thanks Kevin, I do appreciate your kind words and the award. Kevin’s blog is often about gardening but not exclusively. Always entertaining though! To accept the award I must nominate other blogs to also receive the award. I always feel weird about doing this as each blog is that person’s effort…I do not wish to name individual blogs on this occasion. If I follow your blog that means I like it… so to every blog I follow do take the award and pass it on. Maybe someone who has a blog needs a lift or a bit of appreciation…nominate them and make their day.

Another condition is to reveal 7 random facts about oneself.

1. I love wool but it irritates my skin so I can’t wear it.

2. I have a strong sense of justice.

3. I don’t like people who lie…it is an insult to anyone’s intelligence.

4. My most recent discovery about myself is that I have ADD (attention deficit disorder).

5. I hated school.

6. I believe in Angels.

7. One of my fave meals is basmati rice topped with a good helping of mung bean dhal. Delicious!

Another unexpected gift came my way yesterday…this lovely little Japenese hoe. Isn’t it lovely?  I spent a few hours helping a friend in the garden and admired this lovely tool. Her reply was “I’m left handed so I can’t use it. Would you like it?” Not one to look a gift horse in the mouth I accepted the gift gratefully.

When visiting another friend last week I was offered a bunch of rooted Willow cuttings. I’m sure I can find homes for them in the hedgerows. Might even make a fedge with them. They will take off instantly at this time of year… decisions…decisions!

I love their bright yellow colour. It only comes on new growth though so they would have to be cut back each year to get this. A fedge is looking more likely!

The garden has started showering us with gifts too, not that it ever stopped! Rhubarb has shot up and is ready for picking. Crumble on the menu soon!

Rhubarb is a great crop in any garden. It requires very little attention apart from a mulch of manure each Winter. It can be used for jams, chutneys, crumbles and even cakes. Even if you don’t like it as a food the leaves contain oxalic acid and make a great natural pest repellant.

Finally a gift from nature…this beautiful Arum Lily…Arum maculatum…spotted in the woodland whilst walking on Sunday. Isn’t it fab!! There are many common names for this plant, cuckoopint, lords and ladies, willy lily and parsons lillycock to name but a few. In the Autumn it has poisonous red/orangey berries.

Even the weather has been generous this week. The weather has been beautiful! Sunny and dry all week. Life is good! I am thankful.

Making Jam & Eating Spinach @ Prospect Cottage.

In Cooking, Gardening, sustainable living on May 5, 2011 at 10:38 am

Thankfully the rain arrived yesterday, everything looks so fresh and green today. Even the Rhubarb which is heavily mulched was starting to go limp, it is looking all renewed again this morning. Have made a few batches of Rhubarb and Apricot jam recently. It is really nice, the addition of the Apricots helps to thicken the jam. Rhubarb itself is low in pectin.

Recipe for Rhubarb & Apricot Jam:

1kg Rhubarb.   1kg sugar.    250g dried Apricots.   150ml boiling water.

Layer the rhubarb in a basin with the sugar. Put the dried apricots in another bowl and cover with the water. Leave both mixtures for 24 hours. Put both mixtures into a preserving pan and bring to the boil, stirring until all the sugar is dissolved. Keep at a rolling boil for about 30 minutes, or until setting point is reached. Pour into warmed jars and seal immediately. Ginger, dried or crystallised can be added to the recipe.

In the polytunnel Spinach is ready to be harvested. It has grown quickly in the recent hot weather. It goes to seed quickly though. Will cook some this evening with Nettles, steamed to avoid losing the nutrients in the cooking water. Do be careful not to eat too much much Spinach as it is high in oxalic acid, same as Rhubarb leaves. Apparently Popeye was misinformed about the iron levels, they are not that high, similar to peas. Kale has a lot higher iron content.

Companion planting @ Prospect Cottage.

In Gardening, sustainable living on April 27, 2011 at 10:49 am

Comfrey amongst fruit bushes.

Marigolds and Carrots.

Companion planting is the planting of mutually benificial plants in close proximity to each other with the result of deterring pests or attracting predators for any pests that may occcur. As well as being pleasing to the eye, as opposed to boring pest-inducing monoculture, it brings a more balanced eco-system into your garden. In essence, letting Nature take over.

Carrot fly seems to be a big problem in Ireland. The usual remedy is to put a 3-4 ft high barrier around the carrots, the reason being that the carrot fly does’nt fly higher than 3 ft. A more asthetically pleasing solution is to plant French Marigolds amongst your Carrots. Marigolds also exude a substance that kills nematodes and deters whitefly. Don’t plant them near Beans as the Beans won’t  do well.

Nasturtiums planted around fruit trees deter wooly aphids. They are said to improve the flavour and vigour of their neighbouring plants. They act as a deterrent for aphids and but also attract hoverflies who love to dine on greenfly. The also have the added bonuses of being attractive and edible. The leaves give a spiciness to salads and the flowers look amazing when strewn on top. Once you have them you’ll never have to plant again as they self-seed profusely. The seeds can also be pickled as a substitute for capers. I can’t vouch for this as I have’nt tried it myself.

Rhubarb is a good companion plant for all brassicas. A spray can be made from it’s leaves, they contain oxalic acid, to control blackspot on roses and as an aphid deterrent.

Rhubarb is a fruit @ Prospect Cottage!

In Cooking, Gardening, sustainable living on April 11, 2011 at 7:31 am

This little Saxifrage has just come into flower, the blooms are small but so numerous they make a big impact. The Saxifrages are a great choice for a difficult area. This one is growing under a tree on dry, stony ground. They can become over invasive but easy enough to pull out what you don’t want.

Rhubarb, the first welcome fruit of the season is classified as a vegetable in all gardening books. To me it will always be a fruit, usable in jams, chutneys, cakes and crumbles or just plain stewed. ITS A FRUIT! Nothing was harvested from these plants last year, they were planted the previous year and left to develop. We can reap the reward this year. Mulched well with farmyard manure in the Winter they have produced a great healthy looking crop of thick chunky sticks. Rhubarb contains vitamins A and C plus calcium and iron. The leaves are poisonous but can be composted. A natural insecticide can be made by boiling the leaves for about 30 minutes then using the resulting brew against aphids and other pests. 1 and a half kgs of Rhubarb leaves to 3 and a half litres of water.

In the polytunnel yesterday morning, before it got too hot, I pricked out the Cabbages into modules. They will be kept in these until the roots fill the spaces then planted into the earth. By then they will be a good size and less likely to be damaged by slugs!

Garden progress at Prospect Cottage.

In Bees, Cooking, Gardening, Herbs, sustainable living on April 8, 2011 at 9:02 am

Yesterday was a glorious day, blue sky and too hot to work in the polytunnel by afternoon. I managed to spend the whole day in the garden. Strawberries (Elsanta) and lettuces were planted out in the big polytunnel.

Tomatoes were potted on, these are Mexican Midget, from seed savers in Co Clare. They form a long gangly plant with trusses spaced well apart. Fruits are the size of grapes but so delicious, lovely sweet flavour. They were still producing late in the season last year. We are also growing Moneymaker which gives a nice size Tomato. Many people say they don’t have a good flavour but grown organically I do not find that to be the case.

Sweet Cicely at back, Lady's Mantle and Sedum spectabile in front.

I love how certain plants that complement each other in the kitchen come into season together. Sweet Cicely and Rhubarb typify this. Rhubarb is known to have a lot of acidity and not suitable for people suffering from arthritis. However when Rhubarb is cooked with Sweet Cicely it reduces the acid considerably.Reduction of the acid means less sugar is needed so good for diabetics too. It also looks good, mine is in a flower border. White flowers are produced later in Spring, the bees love them.

Everything here is grown naturally, no boxes with skull and crossbones lurking in our shed! It works, plants want to grow, no mystery.

Meanwhile in New York 60 farmers,seed businesses and agricultural organisations have filed a lawsuit against Monsanto challenging the company’s patents on genitically modified seed. The plaintiffs are suing to prevent themselves being accused of patent infringement should their crops become contaminated by Monsanto’s seed. Monsanto has a history of this, with one Canadian farmer having to pay the company $28,000.