So Mother Nature has finally caught up a bit, though temperatures still seem cool for May.
The plot is definitely looking perkier and I'm feeling more confident about getting some good produce this year. There are seedlings and plantlets abounding in the greenhouse and all we Northern gardeners are just waiting for the threat of frosts to disappear.
If nothing else, we've been enjoying the fruits of my labours <<d'you see what I did there...?>> - every plot holder's best friend - rhubarb.
After last time writing about chilis - a vegetable which is actually a fruit, today I'm singing the praises of a fruit which is actually classed as a vegetable....
At a time of year when there's not a huge amount of options to harvest, rhubarb's beautiful huge leaves make a corner of your plot look abundant. And oh, the joy of parting those monster leaves to find spears of pinky loveliness, all waiting to be transformed into treats!
OK, by the time you've added enough sugar to stop your cheeks turning inside out with the sourness, there may not be a great deal of nutritional value in rhubarb, but it is such a stalwart, low maintenance, fail-safe crop, easy to grow and with lots of culinary uses. It's also known to be a useful laxative.!
So over the years, we have gorged on crumbles, with residual syrups then frozen to make ice lollies for the children; I have experimented with rhubarb in cake - highly recommended and delicious served warm with cream; I have made rhubarb-infused vodka, to be served with ginger ale as a sort of Yorkshire mule cocktail!
And this year, my cupboards are now full of beautiful, dark red, ginger and rhubarb jam.
I haven't been caught eating it out of a jar with a spoon. No, no, that must have been someone else.....
You can also use the leaves - which are toxic to humans and some animals - as a spray for aphids and other sucking insects, as it suffocates them.
- Use 1kg of leaves and 2 litres of water.
- Bring to boil and simmer for around half an hour.
- Strain off leaves
- Dilute to use as a spray.
This does need to be used fairly quickly as its effectiveness apparently wears off if stored.