Rhubarb ♥

I planted some “Champagne” rhubarb this year and I was prepared to patiently wait until next year before our first harvest (which is so unlike me). I was delighted when a clump of our old rhubarb, against the odds, started to grow. You see, this rhubarb has been trampled on, dug over, excavated and finally compacted as part of the ongoing building work. We were sad about this as it had come from a neighbour’s garden, who sadly died a couple of years ago, so this has always been known as Fred’s Rhubarb.

Fred's Rhubarb

I’ve always loved Rhubarb… the fact that we use it as a fruit but it’s actually a vegetable and it has delicious edible stems but it’s leaves are poisonous means that it’s as contrary as I am!. One of my earliest childhood memories is eating rhubarb in the sunshine whilst sitting on top of a Rabbit hutch, with a small teacup of sugar in one hand and a freshly picked, pink stalk of rhubarb in the other. The combination of sweet and sour tastes kept me quiet for a while! Not good for the teeth but it was an occasional treat that gave my lovely Mum some peace!

My tastes have changed a little, and whilst rhubarb dipped in sugar is safely consigned to my happy memories now, I have a few more favourite recipes. My first choice is rhubarb crumble… especially when the crumble is made with plenty of cinnamon and toasted hazelnuts. I prefer vanilla icecream with mine – but what’s your favourite?

Rhubarb & Cinnamon CrumbleI also love iced teas – have you tried the rhubarb ones? Wow! Zingy and refreshing! I usually have some frozen rhubarb in the freezer and so this is a great drink to make in the Summer. This particular recipe is from Martha Stewart and can be tweaked according to your tastes… how does a little added Cointreau and slices of orange sound for a special occasion?

Rhubarb Iced Tea

Old fashioned Rhubarb & Custard sweets…

…and a great cartoon from the 1970′s called Roobarb and Custard! To be honest I can’t remember the cartoon very well but always LOVED the theme tune!

Roobarb and custard 1974- YouTube.

I was hoping to spend sometime in the garden but the weather has been awful – high winds, constant rain and it’s so cold that we’ve had to put the heating back on! The wettest drought on record I should think!!

Earth Day

As I was cleaning out the kitchen cupboards, listening to the radio and enjoying my Sunday morning coffee I suddenly remembered that it’s Earth Day. I wanted to post something but I just couldn’t think of anything poignant enough… I then heard a familiar tune and Louis Armstrong started to sing “What A Wonderful World”….
I see trees of green, red roses too
I see them bloom for me, and you…
And I think to myself what a wonderful world!
I see skies of blues and clouds of white
The bright blessed day, the dark sacred night…
And I think to myself what a wonderful world!

The protection of our wonderful planet is too important to ignore and we all make a difference (good, bad or indifferent) everyday in our actions or inactions so it’s important to make good choices… Bridget at Arignagardener has a great post about Earth Day so pop over for a look at the  Commandments For The Earth.

Earth Day Reading Project

Michelle at The Sage Butterfly is hosting the Earth Day Reading Project, a meme where bloggers share which books inspire them to live or garden more sustainably. If you want to participate then all you need to do is write a blog post about a book that has inspired you to live/garden more sustainably or inspires your love of nature. The Earth Day Reading Project runs to April 30, so you can include your post at any time by linking into The Sage Butterfly

 There are so many books that have inspired or informed my gardening and lifestyle that I thought that it would be difficult choose just one… my book shelves groan from the weight of books and I love each and everyone of them! Surprisingly, a task that should have taken much consideration actually took no time at all… the book is neither academic, innovative or even factual I’m afraid. It’s Brambly Hedge by Jill Barklem 

These books are so charming that they make me want to grow whiskers and become a mouse! The illustrations are really beautiful and it seems that every time I pick up one of these books I see something new! They reflect the English Seasons perfectly and, although I first read these stories as a little girl, I love them even more now.

“Brambly Hedge is on the other side of the stream, across the field. If you can find it, and if you look very hard amongst the tangled roots and stems, you may even see a wisp of smoke from a small chimney, or through an open door, a steep flight of stairs deep within the trunk of a tree. For this is the home of the mice of Brambly Hedge.”

Simple creatures leading happy lives…. this is why Brambly Hedge is so inspiring! 

Healthy Weeds

I’ve had such a lovely morning – even the subsequent housework hasn’t dulled the pleasant post-gardening feeling that I’ve been left with! Many of the plants in the small greenhouse were taken out for a taste of fresh air and a good watering of rain. There is likely to be a good frost again tonight so they’ll be nicely tucked up again before night fall. It’s good to know that happiness can be found in such simple things – a cup of tea, a radio and a little shed of tools. Most women treat themselves to a regular manicure… I treat myself by getting soil under my nails!

The Hen House looks lovely through the trees and I can watch the chickens without them realising it! Usually, as soon as the Girls see me approaching they come charging to the gate, flapping and clucking, until they are either fed or let out! The new Girls are settling in well and, although there are two separate groups, there is peace in the Hen House.

The Strawberry Pot is enjoying it’s sheltered location and I’m looking forward to all the lovely Summer recipes. Mmmm…….

Broccoli & Figs
These are both new to me! I’ve grown the Broccoli from seed and I’m so pleased… I hope it survives to adulthood as it’s one of my favourites. The fig tree was bought a couple of weeks ago. I’m not sure whether to plant it against the South facing wall or keep it in a pot so that it can be moved in severe weather. It’s a “Brown Turkey”, so is suited for our climate, but advice would be appreciated from those that know what they’re doing!

I love this little sign and I wanted it the moment I saw it on Etsy.com!

Wouldn’t it be fabulous if every visitor removed a few weeds whilst waiting for you to answer the door? Or, would it tempt you to delay your welcome until a whole patch had been done? Ha ha ha :-)

On second thoughts… cancel the sign! I would probably lose a lot of valuable seedlings and special plants too! I have to confess that I sometimes have to let weeds grow a little before identifying them properly. This is because I’ve recently been guilty of removing perfectly healthy little plants thinking that they were buttercups and daisies! It’s all part of the learning curve x

Rain, Rain, Rain….

After two fairly dry Winters, and an unseasonably dry Spring, the water reservoirs are worryingly low. Many counties in the South and East of England have hosepipe bans in place and many have been waiting anxiously for the rain to return. At the moment there are no water restrictions in this part of the country but, nevertheless, we’re trying to conserve water and use it carefully. I’m pleased to say that the long Easter weekend has been rather damp!

Too wet to venture far today...We were actually pleased when it started to rain yesterday – and it pretty much hasn’t stopped! After feeding the chickens and checking the garden over, I came back indoors damp and cold… only to notice that my houseplants are suddenly doing well! You may well be thinking “big deal!” but to me this is really exciting. You see, I’ve never been very good with houseplants, they always look tired, pale and pretty miserable. This is not due to neglect – I water them, feed them, re-pot them when necessary but also probably kill them with kindness! I live in an old, drafty house so the combination of cold spots and log fires is enough to make anything stressed!

Tradescantia, Clemantine & Christmas Cherry

I first noticed that the Tradescantia had a single lilac bloom on it a couple of days ago. My Mum’s same plant is smothered with these little blossoms and she can seemingly grow houseplants without trying! The Clementine Tree has continued to blossom and is showing signs of fruit. The smell of the blossoms is amazing! Finally, the Christmas Cherry has also started to fruit and looks remarkedly well. Taking all of this into consideration I now have reasonable hopes for my poor little Orchid that has been slowly dessicating as I was informed not to over water it!
This really is progress – if only I could figure out what I am doing right after twenty years of house plant abuse!

And to make this Easter break extra happy the new girls have started to lay eggs!

♥ Happy Easter ♥

Whilst I’m waiting for my girls to lay blue eggs I thought it would be good to dye some white ones I had in my kitchen. I used beetroot juice diluted in water and just dunked the eggs in until they came out a sugary pink. Unashamedly girly!

Happy Easter!

The mini chocolate eggs were used to decorate little chocolate cakes that will hopefully last throughout the weekend – although treats never seem to last in the PJ household. It’s lovely to have a long weekend away from work, and I’m enjoying having a bit of me time. Since taking these photographs my new girls have layed two beautiful pale blue eggs! Best wishes & Happy Easter x

New Chickens!

Easter is in the air and there is no better time to adopt chickens! We welcomed six new girls to our flock yesterday… you can only see five in the picture below as number six kept hiding! We chose an assortment of different colours and hopefully we’ll be getting extra eggs soon too. Some of the eggs should have blue shells, and although this doesn’t affect the flavour, they’ll look really pretty in the egg basket! 

The new girls!We haven’t decided names yet as we need to get to know them a little better :-)
We discovered that one of the chickens is blind in one eye! We were informed by the seller that this is a deformity from birth (not trauma or infection). She explained that the bird is healthy and will lay well but we could choose to exchange her if we were concerned at all. Mmm, this was an easy decision! The little one-eyed chicken seems really happy and it’s our privilege to give her a happy home… if it doesn’t bother her why should it bother us?  We just need to find a good Pirate name for her now!

Looking Forward to April Showers

What a busy month March has been – where has it gone?!? It has been unseasonably warm and the pyjamas were swapped for shorts last week. Unfortunately, the down side of this is that the reservoirs are low and there are many parts of the country that already have water restrictions and hose pipe bans! Thankfully we’re unaffected at the moment but it’s only a matter of time I suppose.

The seed trays and plants were making it difficult to get into the utility room so we bought a cheap plastic greenhouse which has been invaluable! It doesn’t look very pretty, and once we have saved some money, we’ll be getting a wooden framed greenhouse but unfortunately this isn’t near the top of our essential list yet!

The good news is that our rabbit friends have stopped getting into the kitchen garden… the “Keep Out” sign obviously worked wonders (…the perimeter fencing may have helped a little too!).

This month I’m looking forward to April showers, Easter and fetching some new chickens… I’m loving the new garden and catch myself smiling for no other reason apart from being outside with the plants and seeds :-)