27 May 2008

101 things to do with Rhubarb

No 47, rhubarb ice cream. We do like our ice cream in this house, so it seemed like the logical thing to do with the stuff. I attempted to make it as a kind of 'rhubarb ripple', which didn't work so well as the rhubarb wasn't mixed in well enough so that froze solid. Also would probably use a bit more fruit - it's not like we haven't got enough of the stuff! The recipe I used (based on the 'standard' base from Ben and Jerry's Book):

400g of Rhubarb
50g Caster Sugar
Orange Zest

Cook the above for 10 mins (might cook for a bit longer next time) until soft. Then put in the fridge.

Ice Cream (sorry recipe uses American 'cups')
2 Eggs
3/4 cup of Sugar
2 Cups of Double Cream
1 Cup of Milk
1 tsp of Vanilla Extract

Beat the eggs, then gradually add the sugar whilst still whisking. When custard like consistency add the cream milk and vanilla extract. Mix together then pour mixture into ice cream maker. When done mix in the rhubarb and put in the freezer.

Next on the list is rhubarb vodka!

24 May 2008

A glut!

So what to do with all the rhubarb? Despite eating a LOT of rhubarb crumble, giving away the stuff in vast quantities to friend, families, anyone really, we still have a lot of the stuff to get through.

Having inherited my grandmothers preserving pan last year, it was time to find out how to make jam! So quick web search threw up Allotment Lady's blog with a recipe for rhubarb and ginger jam. Once I got over the shock of just how much sugar there is in jam, a surprisingly short amount of stirring later produced 5 jams of rather good jam - even if I say so myself! Sadly 3 of them were immediately 'snapped up' by the family, but only on the proviso my jars were returned with something else in them. Now with Mum, this isn't going to be a problem having supplied the family with jams for many years now. My brother on the other hand...

As luck would have it the rhubarb on plot no 1 is finally picking up, so should have another chance to make some more jam.

16 May 2008

So much to plant!

So now summer has arrived, and looks like it's on the way out already, everything needs planting out/potting on at once. The chillies (Ring of Fire and Hungarian Hot Wax) and tomatoes (Sub Artic Prime and Aurora) were in desperate need of potting on to larger pots, which has now largely been done, but so much for putting them outside looking at the forecast. Which in turn meant the greenhouse needed a good sort out - which to be honest it's needed since I got it. Fortunately it's long looking a bit tidier than it does in the picture. The Sub Artic Prime were from the front of a magazine and are supposed to be good to grow outside. These are doing really well. The Aurora on the other hand are looking a bit leggy and not so good considering they're supposed to be an early variety too.

Finally got the last of the potatoes (Maris Piper) planted out on plot no 2 last night in the semi darkness. Also planted out some cauliflowers (Snowball), calabrese (Waltham) and Brussels (Groninger) and covered with netting. This isn't going to be a popular move as this was the bed the kids had been using as their 'digging patch'. By the time they were in and covered up it was pretty much completely dark - and I wasn't staying long last night...!

The blossom on the apple trees is looking good, so hopefully get some nice fruit off them this autumn. So long as we don't get a late frost. A bit lost in amongst the fruit bed there! Difficult to see but the currant bushes look like they are going to be loaded with fruit, weather permitting of course.

Back on plot no 1 the strawberries are looking good, plenty of flowers - look like they've caught up with the other side of Sheffield now! Just need to keep the birds and slugs off them now. Thinking of getting some straw to put around them, so need to find somewhere that sells it preferably without getting ripped off. The (new) rhubarb is still looking crap though, not quite sure what's going on there. The rhubarb on the new plot is still providing enough to supply most of Yorkshire, so rhubarb and ginger jam is on the menu for later in the week.

The potatoes are all through now and earthed up, the mint looks like it's going to try and take over the whole allotment and the spinach is just coming through. Put in some Brussels and calabrese as well, sadly the netting I took down wasn't big enough to cover them all, so I'm guessing they're not going to be there when I next get down there. Put in a couple of butternut squash with lots of manure, and would have put some courgettes in but realised I hadn't actually dug enough ground...! So they returned home to take their chance with the slugs, already lost one of them.

Back on the new plot I have discovered I have both Ground Elder and Bindweed, which is going to be lots of fun for many years to come...

5 May 2008


A controversial subject! Some people (no names mentioned!) "don't do flowers", but I'm a big fan of having some on the plot. In particular bulbs as they suit my style of gardening - i.e. you put them in the ground, they look after themselves!

Daffs are OK, but these tulips (Queen of the Night) have got to be worth space on anyone's plot.

I grow them for cut flowers and they're certainly a hit with Mrs D! This time last year she was in hospital so we missed them, guess that makes them all the better this year.

How much does it cost?
The general consensus seems to be that having an allotment costs more (financially) then you receive back in produce. However, given rising food prices I'm not so sure any more. I was looking at the price of rhubarb in the supermarket we usually use - 50p per 100g. I reckon I've had at least 5kg of the stuff of my plots, which is £25 at supermarket prices! Not even taking into account that I grow my crops organically. So I'm going to try and keep a record of what we harvest from the plots this year.