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Rhubarb Upside-down Cake

Rhubarb Upside-down Cake

As promised, a picture of the Rhubarb Upside-down Cake made by my wife, Janice, the No1 pudding maker! It tasted as good as it looks! The recipe is courtesy of Sarah Raven’s ‘Garden Cook’ book which has become an all time favourite with us. The book is set out into months of the year and gives the most delicious recipes according what can be harvested from your plot in those months. Highly recommend it! Off to lunch round some friends today so l doubt very much if l will be fit to do too much in the garden by the time we return!

The Book

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Posted by on April 18, 2010 in April, Cooking

 

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The Spring Hustle

An extract from Mr Middleton’s book ‘Digging for Victory’:

April. There are so many jobs to be done just now that it is difficult to know which to tackle first. We lost a good deal of time earlier on, when we ought to have been digging and preparing, owing to severe weather, and now some of us are like the cow’s tail, all behind. But that need not worry us; as l have often said before, we should never garden by dates; and if the spring happens to be late, then we must be late too. The danger with so many people is that in trying to make up for lost time, they do things in such a hurry that they only half do them. That is a great mistake; try to do everything properly and thoroughly, and if you can’t get the potatoes planted on Easter Monday as usual, or the other seeds sown, never mind; get them in as soon as you can, and you’ll be surprised how they catch up for lost time, and by the middle of the summer everything will be about normal again. I have often planted potatoes at the end of this month, or even early in May, and the crops have been just as good. I haven’t finished digging yet, but l am not worrying about it, and the crops, or most of them, will perhaps be all the better for a late start.


Some sound advice from Mr Middleton. I think we can all relate to this overwhelming feeling we can get at this time of the year when we look around our plot and see what still needs to be done with so little time. To stop myself scattering seeds to all four corners of the plot in wild abandonment, l arrange my seed packets into salad, brassicas, herbs etc, and then look to see what can be sown direct into the soil or raised in a heated propagator. Just about everything can be sown outside now. But remember, little and often, otherwise we end up with that glut of vegetables that no else wants because they too have a massive glut of the same thing!

I managed to really get on yesterday in my plot and sowed more salad crops, leeks, purple sprouting broccoli early and late varieties, spinach, chard, brussel sprouts, and some annual herbs. I only grow what we like to eat and as we don’t really eat a lot of cabbage l don’t bother to grow it. It takes up a lot of room that can be used for other crops.

The early spuds are all showing now. Just hope the dreaded blight doesn’t take them this year.

pumpkins, squash and courgettes

In the greenhouse my pumpkins, squash and courgettes have germinated and are looking good. I love roasted squash so grow quite a few to see us through the winter.

seed bed

I prepared my seed bed by adding some compost, forking it over and tapping it down with the back of a rake to firm it. I sowed lots of brassicas in here and when they are old enough to be transplanted l will sow a green manure.

sweet peas

The sweet peas l sowed back in October last year have been hardened off and yesterday l put them in the garden. I love sweet peas and they look great growing up a wig wam.

rhubarb

The rhubarb is growing really well and this lot is going to be made into a Rhubarb Upside Down Cake. Pics to follow.

NEWS FLASH……..Just heard my first cuckoo!! Have you heard yours yet?

 
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Posted by on April 17, 2010 in April, The garden

 

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Rain, sun, hail and very, very strong winds!

Yes, we had the lot today! Not as bad as Scotland with their blizzards but bad enough. So, unable to do anything in the garden, l took refuge in the greenhouse.

Greenhouse

I am rapidly running out of staging with all the trays of seedlings and pots of sweet peas, tomatoes and herbs. It soon becomes one big balancing act so l think l will have to make a cold frame soon. The whole greenhouse visibly shook in some of the gusts we had in the afternoon. Beth, the cat, never flinched while sleeping amongst the plants.

In between the showers l had a quick check on everything in the garden. I noticed the rhubarb is really romping away. By Easter l will be picking the first stalks. Rhubarb and custard, simple and lovely!

Spring rhubarb

Bursting bud

This bud looks like the head of an alien! I find it incredible to think that within 10 days or so this bud will have unfurled into a red stem of  delicious rhubarb with a huge green leaf soaking up the warm spring sunshine….l hope. Nature’s great.

When the sky went black and l thought l might be re-enacting The Wizard of Oz and be whisked up into the skies in my greenhouse l retreated to the kitchen. I had seen a recipe for Lemon Curd in this months The English Garden so decided to have a go. Eggs from the girls provided the colour and it tastes amazing. I was well chuffed for a first attempt.

Lemon curd

 
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Posted by on March 30, 2010 in March, The garden

 

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So much to do.

March-2nd Week

1. Fork dry soil. Press on with forking soil when it is dry enough. This forking may not be possible until April.

2. Get ahead with Parsnips. Many sowings should be made out of doors as the soil is brought into a fine condition. Parsnips need a long season to become fully developed and, if not already sown, this should be done without delay. Sow in drills 15 or 18 in. apart, and put a pinch of seeds at intervals of 9 in. rather than sprinkle some all along the drill. As parsnips are slow in germination, it is good to make a thin sowing of radish or lettuce in the drill. These mark its position and permit hoeing to be done before the parsnips appear. They will also mature and can be used.

The weather has been beautiful here for the past few days and the soil has dried out and is perfect for working on. I feel the clock is ticking as the forecasters are saying we have rain coming in on Thursday so its action stations! I planted my shallots and onions after forking in some old leaf mould.

I have prepared a bed ready to sow parsnips. Mr Middleton advises to sow a quick crop of radish with the seeds but l have never done this, not with the parsnip seeds. I always think there would be too much root disturbance when it came to pulling the radish out so l just sow seeds in batches and thin them out when large enough. Okay, l’ll try it with one row and see how l get on!

I couldn’t resist having a quick look at the rhubarb l covered up the other week and was amazed at how quickly it had come on. I covered it back up as it looked so snug in its bed of straw and we are having some frosts here first thing in the morning so best not to be too hasty yet.

 
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Posted by on March 16, 2010 in March, The garden

 

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Forcing Rhubarb

Mr Middleton February Dig on for Victory

Forcing Rhubarb and Seakale Outside – Rhubarb and seakale can be forced outside, more slowly than indoors, but will provide sticks to follow the earlier crops. Deep boxes or barrels placed over the crowns and covered with a good layer of warm manure or fermenting leaves will encourage growth.

I tried covering my Rhubarb crowns with straw but my hens came along and promptly scratched it all away in search of a tasty grub or two so this time l did it properly.

Rhubarb crown

As you can see from the photos, there are some nice buds appearing so l am thinking they will only require a small amount of encouragement and protection to give them a really good head start. I put some straw over them and then covered it with an old Victorian Rhubarb forcer. That will keep those pesky hens away!

I won’t try forcing them for too long as it does weaken the whole plant and l lost one crown a few years ago due to this.

See also Brandy Carr Nurseries who have a very comprehensive list of varieties to grow and other information on rhubarb.

Other advice comes from February’s edition of ‘Allotment & Garden Guide’ 1942 – advising you to divide old roots at this time of the year into well-manured ground. (see Wartime Advice).

Has anyone had any success doing this to their Rhubarb crowns?

Crown covered in straw

Rhubarb Forcing Pot

 
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Posted by on February 21, 2010 in February, The garden

 

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