Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Rhubarb Redux

One of the great pleasures of eating fruits and vegetables in season is the anticipation of each newly ripe and ready treat. Yesterday I decided it was time to make the Rhubarb Custard Cake that we enjoyed so much last year. I've been eyeing the Rhubarb for few weeks now, waiting until the time seemed just right.

I added Rhubarb to the garden last year and was given this recipe about the same time. I am certain it will be a fixture on the spring schedule. Here is what I wrote about it last year:


The Raised Bed Fence Project

These boxes are approximately 2 x 2 foot for the square ones and 2 x 4 foot for the rectangular ones. They are 2 feet high. We built them from 2 x 6 boards, and coated them with a natural product called Lifetime. It comes as a powder that you mix with water. It couldn't be easier to use and leaves the wood with a beautiful patina that brings out greens and pinks in the wood.

So the dirt arrived and the raised beds are in place. Leveling them and trying to place them in a semi-straight line were the most challenging parts of this project. But the payoff has been huge. I am really happy with the way they look. And now comes the fun part, filling them with plants.

Here is what the raised bed living fence looks like stretched out across the front of the yard. Neighbors seems to like it. Lots of folks have stopped by with complimentary things to say. We will eventually add one more four foot bed on the left side of the driveway and another on the right side of the yard.

So far I have planted a relocated Rosemary, a Nandina, and some low ground covers. I plan on adding a bamboo that I will move from the back yard and split into 2 or 3 plants. I don't intend to grow food in these beds, mostly evergreen, fragrant, screening plants. I can't wait to see how it changes as the plants grow over the summer. Come fall I'll probably move some things out and some new plants in. It'll be fun to change the window dressing.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Crispy Kale

The Kale is coming on strong. I plucked this gorgeous bunch yesterday planning to try something new.

Kale Chips. Yes, I said chips. Crunchy, salty, and very snackable. Oh and just as good for you as dark leafy greens, because that's what they are. What could be better?

My friend Carolyn and I laugh about the list of unlimited items allowed in most diets, which always include kale and friends, but never include chips. Sure, live it up, enjoy all the cabbage, lettuce, celery, kale you want...

I think I first read about this culinary magic on the Yarn Harlot's blog.

This is the recipe I followed. But if you google "kale chips" you'll find many more recipes, and many more devotees of this kitchen trick.

It worked great, they were audibly crunchy, slightly salty, and very satisfying. I will definitely make this recipe again. Thank goodness I have plenty of kale on hand.

Big Doin's Down on the Little Old Farm

I've been shopping for dirt this week and finally settled on Grimm's Blended Soil. Here's hiow they describe it...

"The ideal alternative to top soil. Blended Soil is a mixture of Grimm's Garden Mulch, sand loam, top soil, and manure. Excellent for vegetable gardens, lawns, and native plants. Perfect for those jobs where you need more dirt, such as berms, raised beds, flower beds or lawn areas.

Recommended Use: This soil is ready for direct planting. Plant directly into this mix and fertilize according to the plants nutritional requirements."

Does that not sound delicious? And I'm getting 7 cubic yards of the stuff! Woohoo!

Why so much dirt you might justifiably ask? Well I've got 2 new raised beds in the area that is the de-paved driveway. And since that area was so poor for growing tomatoes last year I decided to cheat my way to abundance by adding the beds and some rich soil to fill them. These 2 beds are 4 x 8 x 1 foot deep, 32 cubic feet. A yard of dirt is 27 cubic feet, so they will each take a little more than a yard.

The rest of the dirt will be used to fill the new box planters we built last weekend to go across the front of the yard. Our front yard is the same level as the street so folks and their dogs sometimes need a subtle reminder as to which side is their side, and which side is my side. We thought about a low fence, but never got around to building it.

When we built the raised beds for the driveway, before we placed them we had them stacked one on top of the other. We liked the way they looked and thought it might be cool to place a row of 2 foot high boxes along the front of the yard, planted with ornamental plants that would offer some privacy screening and a psychological barrier.

And since the most of the farm is dormant during the winter months this plan will offer passersby something nicer to look at than the mud bog.

There will be 3 squares and 2 rectangles, with a gap in between where I may train some climbing vines. Above is a look at one of the boxes. We haven't placed them just yet.

Needless to say I am very excited at the prospect of a big dump truck pulling up on Thursday and delivering a big pile of dirt. And of course I'll follow up with some more photos once they are in place and filled.