Friday, April 30, 2010

Rhubarb sorbet

My gardening neighbor has rhubarb.  He plants many things but doesn't cook so I am welcome to take what I want from his plot.  Today I picked a bunch of rhubarb and found a sorbet recipe.

Rhubarb Sorbet

5 cups chopped rhubarb
1 quart water
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tblsp lemon juice

combine the chopped rhubarb and water in a pot and bring to a boil.  Simmer for 10 min.  Pour through a strainer and press on the rhubarb to get out all the juice.  Discard the rhubarb remains.  Mix in sugars and lemon juice and chill.  Freeze in ice cream maker.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Vegetable Garden planting - April 29

Today I took the day off to go to the nursery to buy perennials and tomatoes, peppers and tomatillos.   My gardening friend and I went to a local nursery where we had to remove heavy blankets from the tables to get to the vegetables.  The past few days it's been in the 30's and 40's overnight.  Still cold to plant but I was determined.  Especially since the next few days will be very warm.

The perennials I bought were Agastache (to go in the space where I pulled out the dead lavender).  This is also called Anise Hyssop and grows big spiky blue flowers. I have never grown it so it's a new plant for me.  I also bought a hibiscus, St John's Wort and Creeping Phlox for the slope, Clelone or Pink Turtlehead (to replace a dead hydrangea).  Yesterday there was a plant sale on campus so I bought three kinds of ferns to go in alongside the walkway to the basement.

For vegetables, it was 7 tomato plants (roma, pineapple, celebrity, yellow pear and a couple others I can't remember), 4 peppers (sweet banana, hungarian hot wax and 2 red peppers whose name escapes me), 1 purple tomatillo plant.

Once at the garden, I decided it was warm enough to plant the cucumbers (Poinsett, a slicing kind and Alibi, a pickling cuke), green beans (Cupidon French filet and Nickel, another filet bean), Zucchini (Giamba), Mizuna and lettuce under the cuke screens.

All in all, a very productive day.

The poppies are blooming!  These are the ones I don't want because they spread like crazy

Shelling peas on right, snow peas in lower center.  To the left of snow peas, a row of green beans were planted today

Two screens that Sean's dad gave me.  Cukes planted on the outside of each side.  Lettuce and Mizuna planted under the screen,

The greens are all doing well.

Tomatoes and Peppers.  Mulched with straw

Broccoli Raab and broccoli on left, Favas on right with some random potatoes that popped up.  Green beans planted in between raab and broccoli.

The potatoes I really planted this year.  There are random ones all over the garden from previous years.

Shallots are doing well

Carrots with the garlic

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

First harvest of the season

My greens in the vegetable garden all look fabulous but since I thickly seeded everything, it's time to start thinning.  The good news is all these thinnings can be eaten in a delicious salad.  Here was this week's meal

Mint on the left. Spinach on top, mizuna on the right, mustard on bottom.  Ate a salad of the greens and used the mint in my iced tea.

Tomorrow I am taking the day off to go to the nursery to the buy tomatoes, tomatillos and peppers.  Will plant in the garden along with seeding cukes and green beans.  I have no idea where everything is going to go since there are still sweet potatoes, winter squash and zucchini to plant.  My garden neighbor has assured me that between our two plots, there will be enough room for everything.  His rhubarb is ready to pick and I printed out recipes for rhubarb sorbet and rhubarb punch to try.  Let the preserving begin!

Monday, April 26, 2010

English Ivy - Arrgghhh

My neighbor has English Ivy.  Actually both of my neighbors have ivy but this story is only about one side of my yard.  Along the border of my yard with my neighbor, there were rusted metal poles with a wire fence of sorts.  For years, I've been battling this because the ivy and weeds would climb over it and it was a pain to trim.  Last year I asked my neighbor if I could get rid of this crappy fence system and I was informed that in fact, it was my crappy fence system.  Last year I just didn't have the energy to tackle the overgrown ivy but it was on my to-do list for this year.  Today was the perfect day.  It's been raining for a couple of days so the ground was moist and I thought the fence posts would be easier to remove.

So, Sean and I decided to tackle this project today.  We clipped, we pulled, we dug, we used wire cutters and we swatted the swarms of gnats that were landing on our sweaty faces.

One particular fence post was difficult to remove since whoever did it, sunk it in cement.  So we dug a big hole all around it and took the hammer to the cement.  While pushing the fence post back and forth, it actually snapped off - luckily it snapped below the surface of the ground, so we just threw back in the rocks and covered it with dirt.

The next round, I will continue to clip back the ivy.  (have I said how much I HATE IVY).

The question is, what to plant on the slope?

My yard is to the right, neighbor's to the left.  See ivy on lower left, and growing up Bradford Pear tree (another yucky tree but my neighbor likes it)

The slope is in my yard.  I need a non-invasive ground cover for the slope.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

What's blooming in the yard - April 25

Not too much is happening this week.  There are many plants with buds so I think with a little warm weather in the next week or so, there will be many more blooms.


Moss phlox


Pulmonaria or Lungwort



Japanese Painted Fern

Spotted Dead Nettle

Monday, April 19, 2010

What's blooming in the yard - April 19

The garden is growing well - we need some rain and it's too early to plant more perennials.  Some of my fellow vegetable gardeners have already put in their tomatoes but it is really too early - last night it was in the 30's.  My plan is to take a day off next week to go buy the tomatoes and peppers and then plant them.

Here is what is blooming in my home garden this week

Lemon Balm - really taking over this bed

Hosta, Coral Bells, Hakonechloa

Azalea - don't really like them but this is in the backyard. I didn't plant it but I'm keeping it.

Gorgeous Viburnum

The first irises!  Just out today

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Water Bills

My new low flow toilet is fabulous.  Will it save me any money though?  My friend brought me recently an extra low flow shower head so that has now been installed.  There are three rain barrels set up outside my house with hoses attached. I'm hoping I won't have to turn on the water at all outside this summer although I suppose it will have to rain sometimes to fill the barrel.

February 2010 the bill was $35
March 2010 = $42
April 2010 = $67

Due to the #$%^%$# leaky toilet - the innards were actually replaced last year when one month the high bill was over $90.  So we'll see what happens next month.  Not sure how to save more on water.  My kids already think I'm over the top with the bucket in the shower to catch the water that falls before it heats up - I do this in the summer and use that water every morning to fill the bird bath or water the container plants.

This toilet better live up to its reputation.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Fruit Leather

It's time to start preserving!  The rhubarb is coming up and I still had some in the freezer from last year.  What to do with it?  I checked out a book recently about dehydrating food and there was a recipe for rhubarb lace (fruit leather) in it, so I thought I would give it a try.

The recipe called for pouring boiling water over the rhubarb to soften it but once the bag of fruit was defrosted, it was already pretty mushy.  I pureed it with some fresh strawberries, sugar, pinch of ginger and 3 tblsp of strawberry jello.  Pour on the leather tray and dry for several hours.  Here is the result.

Brought a taste into work for Sean to try since he claims he doesn't like rhubarb.  He ate it and I think I heard yum yum out of his mouth.

This is a winner and will try again in a couple of weeks with fresh rhubarb.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

How are things in the Vegetable Garden?

Last week it was in the 80's and I think one day topped 90 degrees.  That's too hot for this time of year.  The kale all bolted so today I pulled it up and have enough to share with several friends.  The greens, peas, carrots and beets are all growing but we need more rain.  There was a sudden rainstorm on Thurs night but it wasn't enough.  Here are pictures from today.  Everything looks so dry - I did water after taking the pictures.  There are potatoes planted but they haven't started coming up and I forgot to photograph the fava beans.


Snow peas

Radishes on left, Chard and Mizuna on right

Spinach with Lettuce to the right


Mustard Greens

Broccoli Raab




Leeks with Oriental Poppies in the background


Friday, April 9, 2010

What's Blooming this week - April 8

I finally bought myself a new camera so I wandered into the garden today to take some pictures of what is blooming.




Korean Spice Viburnam

Emerging Hosta


Sweet Woodruff



Redbud Tree


Moss Phlox

Grape Hyacinth