Warm Rhubarb Compote (and Ice Cream of Choice!)

Spring means so many wonderful things are beginning to grow in the garden! One of my favourites and super easy to grow is rhubarb. Fun to say (and eat), rhubarb is an awesome plant that provides a unique, slightly bitter taste combo.

Two of the best kitchen tips when it comes to rhubarb:

  1. The redder the stalks the sweeter.
  2. Don’t eat the leaves, ever….they are poisonous.

Here’s how to make killer rhubarb compote

  • 1 pound of rhubarb
  • 1 cup of cane sugar
  • 1/2 lemon juice

Directions:

  1. Grab yourself a large pot, throw it on the stove and heat it to medium
  2. Wash your rhubarb stalks, cut them into 1/2 inch pieces and knock ’em in the pot
  3. Add sugar and lemon juice and a lid! The lid will help sweat the rhubarb.
  4. Turn down low and stir occasionally. In 20 mins you are done!

Serve hot or cold with a scoop (or 3!) of your favorite ice cream. Keep in mind, any uneaten compote makes a beautiful morning addition to pancakes, waffles, crepes, toast, scones……you get the idea!

Get creative, have fun, be wild. Eat. Enjoy.

How to Seed Your Plants

Some plants are easier than others to grow from seed. Here are some tricks of the micro-propagation world.

  • Seeds should be at the correct depth according to their size.
  • Flat seeds (aka cucurbit seeds) should be sown on their sides. This goes for marrow, melon, squash, cucumber and other flat seeds.
  • Make sure seeds get lots of light! They need it to germinate.
  • If your seed tray has a cover, remove it as soon as the majority of the tiny seedlings have appeared.
  • Disturb the roots of the seedlings as little as possible. This will help them grow thick and tall!
  • Seedlings (like our cats) hate being soggy.
  • Be ruthless with weak or overcrowded plants! It’s better to pinch out (to cut them at the soil level) one or two healthy plants than to let two plants suffer later by pulling them apart. Sad but true.
  • Handle the seedlings and even the young teenage plants by their leaves – never by their stems – to avoid damaging them.

 

Viewers Up In Arms After BBC Cancels Gardeners’ World

Our favorite link from the week, a terrible bit of news!

By Camilla Turner 

The genteel world of horticulture is “up in arms” about the BBC’s flagship gardening programme getting bumped in favour of snooker and football matches.

Devotees of Gardeners’ World have started an online petition begging the corporation to keep the half-hour BBC Two show in place on Friday evenings, and end the spate of cancellations to accommodate sporting events.

Even the programme’s presenter Monty Don has waded into the row, telling his 26,500 Twitter followers that he finds the show’s hiatus over the coming weeks “galling”.

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Gardener’s World presenter Monty Don has waded into the row CREDIT: ANDREW CROWLEY FOR THE TELEGRAPH

 
It is one of the longest running gardening shows, having been on air since the 1960s, and shares tips, advice and ideas from experts.

“Thousands of us avid viewers of Gardeners’ World are up in arms with the BBC who, for the past few years, have entered into contracts to televise sports events which clash with it,” Valerie Corby, a retired lawyer from Taunton, Somerset told The Telegraph.

“Viewers are incensed because it is only on for half an hour a week and the Spring is our busiest time in the garden; we look to Monty Don and his team for advice.”

In the current series, an episode was cancelled to air the Women’s Euro 2017 qualifier, and there are a further two cancelled programmes in the coming weeks.

Heather Redhead, 57, a sonographer from Chester, said: “We gardeners are heartily sick of the one regular gardening programme aired by the BBC being repeatedly replaced by other programmes.

“I really feel the BBC is taking no account of the numbers of people who garden. I’m a long time member of the Royal Horticultural Society and as a passionate and experienced gardener, I also feel it is important to assist and encourage the newer gardeners.”

Mary Baillie, 50, a retired communications consultant from  South Lanarkshire, added: “It is incredible that every Friday without fail when there is a sporting event being broadcast, the schedulers opt to cancel Gardeners’ World.

“Scheduling aside, spring is the busiest time of year for gardeners.”

An episode was cancelled to air a Women’s Euro 2017 qualifier
An episode was cancelled to air a Women’s Euro 2017 qualifier CREDIT: MATT WEST/REX 

 

Nicola Brown, 31, an insurance claims advisor from Norfolk, said: “I am really disappointed with the constant weeks that keep being missed on Gardeners’ World for sports events.

“I also cannot comprehend the reason behind not showing it for a week, leaving 14 days between episodes at this time of the year. This is a vital time in any gardener’s calendar, whether old or young, experienced or novice.”

Concerned viewers have started a Facebook group, which attracted hundreds of members within a day.

The BBC has received dozens of complaints about the show’s cancellations, but has said that “contractual commitments” to air sporting events mean they are left with little choice.

A BBC spokesperson said: “Gardeners’ World is an important part of the BBC Two schedule and we do try to minimise disruptions but our commitment to live sport coverage, which is also enjoyed by BBC Two viewers, means that our schedule is occasionally subject to change.”

From The Telegraph this week.

Plant Spacing For Intensive Planting

PLANT SPACING FOR INTENSIVEPLANTING

What Makes Good Soil? pH!

With soil, pH is the most important number to remember. The acidity or alkalinity of soil is measured on a scale from 0 to 14. The higher the concentration of hydrogen ions in the soil solution, the lower the pH, or acidity. Seven, being the middle number, is neutral, and plants grow best between 6.0 to 7.5.

Certain plants prefer different acidity levels. Blueberries, for instance, like acidic soil because iron and aluminum can be extracted easily from it. Pine needles around blueberry bushes are especially helpful for increased acidity!

Wet and Dry Climates

Rainy climates often have acidic soil because other nutrients like calcium, magnesium and potassium tend to get washed away, leaving hydrogen ions behind. In arid climates, the opposite is true; those important nutrients tend to dominate the top layers of the soil.

Changing The pH

This is where compost is helpful! Compost buffers the acidity of soil by binding to soil nutrients until the plants need them. If compost doesn’t do it enough, to change the acidity of your soil, you can also add ground limestone to make it more basic or sulphur to make it more acidic. The change that these methods create tends to be temporary though, so it’s best to match the right plants with the right soil pH.

We Have Lids!

The last while, we’ve heard some great feedback about our oyas – with one criticism: we didn’t have lids!

Well, we heard you. Thanks very much for all the questions and comments, we really appreciate it. All new oyas will be sold with a bright green lid. This goes for all sizes: small, medium, and large.

These lids are made from silicone so they withstand the sun and the elements. They avoid evaporation from your oya in hot climates, and keep critters like lizards, slugs, and mosquitos out of the freshwater meant for your plants.

This lid is easy to put on and off, fun for kids, and people are loving them! Thank you again for the recommendation!

Nettle Pesto

Nettle pesto is a killer spring recipe for several reasons. Nettle is natures spring tonic. Although it packs a sting when in the wild (shorts wearers beware!), it is loaded with nutrients – so much so that it has been used medicinally for hundreds of years.

In the kitchen, it’s best to think about nettles (once quickly blanched) as a substitute for spinach (or any other greens). Spinach lasagna becomes viola…..nettle lasagna. Mamma mia!

For the recipe, traditional pesto (minus the pine nuts) has been transformed into a seasonal, wild delicacy. Sure to fool any child into thinking they are eating some other green and sure to be an interesting conversation at the adult table.

Get creative, have fun, be wild!

Stinging Nettle Pesto

Ingredients

3/4 cup blanched nettles
1 cup olive oil (or more depending on desired consistency)
1/2 lemon, squeezed juice and zest
2 cloves garlic crushed
1 tbsp. grated parmesan

salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

Place nettles and garlic in a blender. Slowly add olive oil as you blend. Add lemon juice and continue to blend until smooth.

Add parmesan, salt and pepper to taste.

The pesto will keep for up 5 days in the fridge.

Planning Your Garden

It’s hard to know exactly what vegetables we eat over a year. Planning our gardens each spring, we try to remember what worked last year, and what we needed more of, but we tend to rely on vague recollections a bit too heavily.

By following these few simple guidelines, you can get a better idea of what to grow, when to plant it, and how much to sow.

Grab the Data

For two weeks in the fall, write down every vegetable you eat. This list can be kept in the kitchen, close at hand (near the cutting board) to keep top of mind. At the end of the two weeks, you might be surprised! How many meals do you actually eat at home each week? How many of them include vegetables?

For us, it’s about growing not just vegetables, but family time in the garden and at the table.

Organize Your Veggies

Your next step is to organize your two-week inventory. What vegetables do you eat regularly? List them in a column on the left of a sheet of paper. These are “Vegetables We Eat.” Next, make two other columns: “Vegetables to Buy” and “Vegetables to Grow.”

To fill the first column, total the vegetables you eat each week and estimate how that extends out over the year. Some vegetables, you might find, are more staples. Others, more seasonal.

Organize Your Time

Few of us have the time and space to grow all our veggies. Prioritize which ones you will feel best about when you harvest them. Is it better to focus on your family’s staples – like peas, onions, potatoes, or beans? Or do you appreciate the rarer vegetables that get you excited for the seasons?

Reap What You Sow

By planning your garden based on your real wants and needs, you’ll know exactly what to plant. Instead of one garden plan, you might draw three, for the early, mid, and late planting seasons.  

For us, it’s about growing not just vegetables, but family time in the garden and at the table. With this method, we found we can add a family project to the weekend that we can all talk about together, adding more fun to doing what we love.

Planting Potatoes

Potatoes, the source of all delicious fries, hash browns, and scalloped goodness, come from humble beginnings. They are grown from adorable little seed potatoes, or tubers.

Tubers are usually the size of about a golf ball. If they are large, they can be cut into smaller chunks for planting. Each tuber should have at least two healthy eyes and weight about two ounces.

When to Plant?

In the very warm parts of the United States, in places where temperatures don’t drop below 30 degrees, potatoes can be planted from late fall all the way to midwinter. Otherwise, planting time usually falls in spring ‘edge season’ – specifically, many say, on St. Patrick’s Day, unless it’s still too cold then. Potatoes are vulnerable to late freezes, so it’s better to be later if you’re worried about erratic temperatures.

The best time to plant is about four weeks before the last frost in spring, or, if you’re super technical, when the soil has warmed to 50 degrees at 4 inches deep. Plant them in full sun and slightly acidic soil with good drainage, in loose, porous soils. Heavy clay and dry sand are both potato unfriendly. Better to have soils in high organic matter.

Protect Your Tubers

When you plant tubers, cover them just the right amount to protect them from the sunlight, to provide insulation against the heat, and to keep them moist (but never over waterlogged). Gardeners tend to re-cover the plants as they grow higher and deeper. This will continuously protect them.

Harvest in Stages

When new potatoes are ready to harvest about two months after planting, white or lavender flowers start to show. This is the gardener’s cue to carefully uncover one side of the stems and dig down to find the just-formed potatoes. Take a few from each plant without disturbing the rest of it or the roots, and then push the soil back to let the rest of the crop grow bigger. These tiny potatoes are delicious roasted!

The main crop is ready about three or four months after planting. You’ll be able to tell because the leafy tops will have died back. If you’ve planted late, make sure not to leave them until the fall frost!