No rain, no gain

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Fruits of hard labour

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A load of new rhubarb

I love rhubarb; its delicate pink/white stems are a joy to behold this time of year and it is so easy to pick and to grow that every garden should have some. Even when mine started to throw a bit of a wobbly last year and chucked out flowering stems it soon calmed down after I'd got the not-so-subtle hint that it could really do with an extra dose of manure. Naturally, the first thing I make with forced rhubarb (that's a plant which has been under a bucket or similar in the dark for the last month or so) is a crumble, but I came across a very simple recipe last year that is lovely too:

Rhubarb and Orange Pudding (serves 2)
200g rhubarb, cut into pieces
50g oats
3 tbsp thick cream
4 tbsp soft brown sugar
zest and juice of half an orange (or the whole of it if it's a small one)

Simply mix the rhubarb with 3 tbsp of the sugar, the zest and half the orange juice and put this mixture into a medium sized dish. Mix the oats with the rest of the sugar and cream and put blobs of it all over the rhubarb. Bake for about 30 mins at approx 180 degrees until it's brown on top and then tuck in!

All this talk of food is making me peckish, so before I give in to a snack, I'll give a quick update on what we've been up to on the allotment. Naturally, with the warm weather cometh the weeds and the docks are back in force. All those I thought I'd dug up last year are now proving me wrong and springing up all over the place, so much so that when I close my eyes all I see are the blasted things.

The shallots and some of the red onions are now in the ground, as are our early and second early potatoes. In the polytunnel, I've begun the living salad packs for May Day at Bill Quay Farm so I hope they will look tempting enough in time. I've run out of plastic fruit punnets, which I was recycling to make the salad containers, so the next batch will have to wait until after the school holidays when the Greenfingers Club returns! Speaking of Greenfingers, they've been really busy making willow weave panels (below) for their new raised beds and planting potatoes in sacks.

One of our chickens, Bo, is contemplating the idea of raising chicks, despite being less than a year old herself. She's refusing to shift from the nest box - much to the annoyance of the other hens - and has made a nice little nest of downy feathers and shrieks at anyone who comes too close. At the moment, she's sitting on golf balls (but don't tell her as she may get upset) until I'm convinced she really means it as I don't want to risk wasting too many eggs that she's warmed up and then left to get cold. Yesterday the prospect of some sunflower seeds made her forget her mission pretty sharpish. Naturally, neither Bo or any of the other hens want to sit on eggs in the old rabbit hutch I've specially prepared for that purpose.

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