Sunday, May 14, 2017

May 14, 2017- We are leaving spring behind

It is Thursday morning. As the window is open I hear the first bird  at a little after 5. I suppose there is some light in the eastern sky. Sunrise will be at 5:50. The moon is bright, not quite full. I am told it is "waning gibbous". The local weather channel tells me it will be that all week.
We had quite a bit of rain yesterday. It seems like as soon as I say we could use some rain, it rains.
I enjoy the quiet, just sitting with my coffee, and thinking about the garden. The weeds should pull up easily today. The temperatures  are finally getting into the 70's in the next week. There actually are some 80's in the 7 day forecast.  The weeds that are left should really grow this week.

Now it is Saturday. It is warm. That means it is in the low 80's. We should just wish for that in July. It does mean the windows are open and the fans are on. The Farmer's market was in full swing this morning in Iowa City. We do really have one of the better markets I have ever been to. It is a real community gathering. It becomes a picnic for many, given the number of places selling breakfast food. Is pizza a breakfast food? One of the items we buy is rhubarb. It is that time of year. The Times had ten recipes for rhubarb this morning. Chicken and rhubarb?
Julia will tell you someone good to make with rhubarb. It thankfully is a dessert.

Rhubarb is wonderful. We walk by houses where there is much rhubarb, but it looks like the people are just going to let it go to seed. There should be a rhubarb exchange, a place where people who will not use it but have it, can meet the people who do not have it, but can make so many good things with it. Certainly if anyone has rhubarb they will not use, contact us.

We went down to Kalona today and got some annuals. Lantana is a keeper. There is a new purple lantana that seems to trail a little.

I need to spend some time with annuals.
But first the weeds.

In last week's voting you liked the pink tulips. They were striking.

In the rest of the voting
Pink tulips 12
Tree peony 9
Blue camassia 8
Orchid 7
yellow iris 7
multi colored iris 4

In the voting for the garden hard scape you liked the the llama head.

All the voting was
llama head 9
bobble head bird  7
frog 6
chicken 5
pig 5
goose head 3
space alien 2

In the main event this week here are your choices

#1 Yellow Iceland poppy
I start Iceland poppies from seed about February 1. I grew and set out about 50 this year. They do well in groups of more than 2-3.
This one was different. It overwintered outside. I cannot remember having one do that before. Usually the hot summer does them in.
They one that wintered over bloomed about a week before the ones I grew from seed.

#2 Water on hosta

Early in the morning, or after a rain, the patterns and sparkles can be wonderful.

#3 Amaryllis
This is one of the 2 amaryllis blooming now. I have about 5 other buds coming on different plants.
I try to keep the plants dormant during the winter,  so they can bloom in the garden in the spring. Sometimes that works.

#4 Little stars with the pulmonaria

#5 another Iceland Poppy
Is it red? Or is it orange?
It certainly is wonderful, particularly with that yellow center.

#6 Allium fireworks.

The City of Iowa City plants hundreds of allium of several variety all over downtown Iowa City. They are wonderful. Sometimes they are at different heights and look like notes on a music staff.

#7 Tall Bearded Iris
Some tall bearded iris are good. I prefer the smaller ones because often the big ones fall over.

Once again you may vote for two.

Bonus Pictures

Here is the center of the white tree peony after the petals were gone. It looks like a crown.

The yellow trillum have gotten enormous. They must be 15 inches tall.

Here is the other amaryllis blooming at the moment.

This is a primrose, called gold lace black.

Here is the closeup

The columbine are blooming. I believe columbine must taste good. Judging from the damage from I think rabbits, it must taste better than most of the other plants in my garden.

The first Siberian Iris bloomed on Saturday.

This is maybe the best Iceland poppy picture this year. I took it late in the day. The details of these flowers are good, but the focus can be tricky.

Last weekend we went to the Chicago Botanic Garden, in Glencoe. It was sunny and 55 degrees with a breeze.

Chicago was maybe a weekend behind Iowa.

Going to a garden like Chicago gives you an opportunity to meet new and strange plants
This is echium. As they say, it is from some place else.

It is from North Africa. I did not have the time to ask anyone what they did with it in the winter.

It comes in different colors.

You can buy it in this country. It grows in zone 9. It grows in California. Why am I not surprised?

Rhubarb Upside-down Cake
by Julia Mears

It is rhubarb season in Iowa. Rhubarb was in the Farmer's Market last weekend (and this weekend), and the guy who has a cooking column in the local newspaper had rhubarb recipes this week. It's that time. I am going to tell you about a recipe that came to us one summer some years ago when we participated in a CSA (community supported agriculture) with a local market gardener. We bought a share with another family, and every week we or they would go out to the farm (actually on the edge of town) and pick up our box of produce. And a sheet with thoughts and tips and recipes. Very nice. Except that it was a chilly and rainy summer. So although we had produce every week, a lot of it was turnips. And kale and mustard greens and collard greens and chard. I had no experience with any of these vegetables, and I did not grow to love them. But we did get rhubarb early in the season along with a recipe for rhubarb upside down cake which I have only altered a little in the succeeding years. One of the things I like about the recipe is that it includes cornmeal, with is unexpected - at least to me - and a nice bit of crunch.

Here are the ingredients. The rhubarb is off to the left on the cutting board waiting to be chopped up. I had about 1 lb. of rhubarb, which was 6 good sized stalks.

I started by trimming the ends off the rhubarb and slicing it into 1/4" (about) slices. I measured about 2 cups, 2 slightly heaping cups. My 2 cup measure has some room at the top so I could have 2 heaping cups without spilling. I added 1/4 cup of white sugar and 1/4 teaspoon salt to the rhubarb and shook it around a bit.

Meanwhile, Philip had sprayed a 10" Pyrex pie pan with cooking spray. You could use butter instead. I poured the rhubarb-sugar-salt mixture into the lubed pie plate.

Next, I measured 1-1/2 cups of flour, 1/2 cup of sugar, 1/4 cup of cornmeal, 2 teaspoons of baking powder and 1/4 teaspoon of salt into a bowl. Then I cut up 1 stick of butter (that's 1/2 cup) into little pieces and tossed that in. I stirred it up and then I used a pastry cutter to cut the butter into the dry ingredients. You could use your fingers or maybe a fork. I bet this could be made in a food processor kind of like pie crust. Oh, by the way, I have not made this with King Arthur Gluten-free Flour but I am sure it would be fine.

Next I measured 3/4 cup of milk into that 2 cup measure I had used to measure the rhubarb. I added 1 egg and 2 teaspoons of vanilla. I mixed that up and added it to the dry ingredients + butter and stirred it up. I preheated the oven to 350 degrees.

After mixing the batter, I poured it on top of the rhubarb and spread it around.

Here it is just before going into the oven, for about 40-45 minutes.

If you have a 9" pie pan, that's fine too. Your pan will obviously be fuller so you may want to put a cookie sheet or something under it in case there is a bit of overflow.

After the cake came out of the oven, I cooled it for 5 minutes. Then I ran a regular dinner knife around the edge of the cake to make sure it was not sticking anywhere. Then I got out a serving plate bigger than the pie plate. I put the serving plate upside down on top of the cake. I held onto the plate with one hand, and using a potholder to pick up the pie plate, I flipped the cake out onto the plate. The process is easier to do than to describe.

Here is the cake, ready to eat. Plain, or with whipped cream or ice cream if you are feeling like lily-gilding.

Odds and Ends

The ducks are still with us. It is time to bring the fish back from their winter boarding place down the street. I am afraid that with the ducks on the pond they would be gone within a few days.

The Bible does not provide much gardening advice.

There is one place where there is good advice.
It is the parable of the fig tree.

Luke 13:6-9 (New International Version
Then Jesus told this parable: "A man had a fig tree growing in his vineyard, and he went to look
for fruit on it but did not find any. So he said to the man who took care of the vineyard, 'For
three years now I've been coming to look for fruit on this fig tree and haven't found any. Sit it down, Why should it use up the soil?'
"Sir" the man replied, "leave it alone for one more year, and I'll dig around it and fertilize it. If it bears fruit next year, fine! If not, then cut it down."

I have been told that the Bible does not tell you what happens to the fig tree after that year. I guess that is part of the parable.

I have some tree peonies that I am going to fertilize this one last spring. We shall see how they do, this year.

You do have to be able to just let some plants go. 

Find the shade.



Pat said...

Hi! I tried to vote for the little stars but my vote didn't register. Just wanted you to know I liked them! ... Pat

philip Mears said...

It has been my experience that a vote does not register immediately after voting. Maybe someone has to count it. Maybe you are given a certain period of time to change your mind.
I think it eventually does get counted.
It is frustrating and should be fixed by Blogger.

Rosemary said...

Chicago Botanic Garden posted a blog entry about Echium