SPRING RHUBARB CAKE

Spring Rhubarb Cake

Ingredients

225g/8oz self raising flour

85g/3oz margarine

115g/4oz sugar

1 tsp ground ginger

1 egg

345g/12oz softened cooked rhubarb

Milk

Granulated sugar

INSTRUCTIONS

Heat the oven to Gas Mark4/180C

Mix fat and flour together, Add all other ingredients with enough milk to give a loose dough.

Place in a lined 18cm/7” sponge tin (or a small loaf tin).

Spread the top evenly and dredge with granulated sugar.

Bake in the ovenfor approx 25-30 minutes

This is good cold with a cup of tea or warm with custard

Aslake Garden Jobs For February

  1. Aslake Community Glasshouse Growers

Welcome to the month of small things, snowdrops, crocus, violets come to mind and primroses , all resist the cold weather thrown at them. Winter pruning of top fruit continues and a good time to plant bare root plants Raspberries apple and pears which makes them a lot cheaper to buy.

Raised beds don’t need digging over but a good mulch of compost as a top dressing will benefit for the coming season.

Plant colourful primulas into pots for some early cheer and divide snowdrops after flowering to increase your display these are best when they are still in leaf.

Autumn sown broad beans also could do with a boost from a mulch of organic compost and .this month you can sow hardy broad beans .

Plant onion sets in modules under glass and sow onion seeds. Leeks can be sown outside in a seed bed

Chit potatoes in warmth and light to get strong shoots not in the dark as the shoots will become elongated can plant some early potatoes into bags and pots if you have a glasshouse and you could be eating your first early potatoes in May

Start begonia tubers under glass also sow hardy annuals in modules for earlier flowering

A good plant for the house and early flowering with masses of scent are lily of the valley keep in the shade these will last for a long time.

Root cuttings whist plants are dormant oriental poppies, echinops, Verbascum ,Japanese Anemones’ dig up the root and take some healthy fibrous roots cuttings remember which way up they are in the pot place in a cold frame water and leave alone .Cut the cutting straight across at the top and the root end at an angle this will then tell you which way up they need to go.

Plant asparagus beds now, good garden centres will have plants available plant crowns on a V trench in a deeper drill and place the roots over this mound ..

It’s the main ingredient for a good salad, now is the time to sow tomatoes, there are blight resistant varieties about like Losetto or Lizzano and Crimson Crush these are even grafted making stronger and shorter between flower joints so will crop earlier .

Tomatoes have been around a long time cultivated by the Aztecs and Incas in 700AD

Keep tomato foliage dry as blight spores can swim if planted outdoors use a plastic roof to keep the rain off them. Blighted foliage can be composted away from the crop as the spores require a living host to survive.

Clean out nesting boxes and repair any defects, how about making a bat box this month don’t use treated wood position in a sheltered and sunny spot they will need a rough textured wood to cling onto.

Recycle your plastic pots by using them over again , old compost is more productive used for outside growing , this last year we have had an explosion of vine weevil grubs in pots that eat the roots of seedlings, if found put them out for the birds .and avoid using back in the glasshouse.

Climbing beans are far more productive in the glasshouse especially French beans these will also crop for a longer period , sow 2 beans in a small pot in a heated propagator but keep ventilated when the pots have filled up with roots, plant up into the glasshouse border 20cm apart push bamboo canes alongside to climb up.

Mow the lawn if mild weather persists but keep the blades raised avoid walking on the lawn when covered in frost. Start thinking new lawns next month

February is clematis pruning time but only for a select few avoid spring flowering or early summer varieties clematis that flower July onwards can be pruned hard these will shoot up and flower again in the summer months ,The Montana’s can be left to ramble over what they are planted next to, but can be reduced if too vigorous.

Eco word

Millions of us are now working from home, make this operation paper free as much as possible, dump plastic pens to metal refillable fountain pens or made from recycled materials, how about just a pencil and rub out.

Vegetable box schemes will reduce food miles consolidating shopping journeys into one but still not as efficient as from the garden or allotment . The best way to reduce, plan meals ahead ,eat seasonally and keep menus for your leftovers .

I recently bought a bamboo tooth brush but the head contained plastic bristles not quite recyclable Lost the plot

What to sow in January

Look around Aslake community glasshouse growers what we are sowing in this cold month

I have just covered one of my rhubarb plant with a dustbin to force putting lots of manure and straw to help warm the bin up so hope for some early rhubarb but keep an eye out for mice and rats as they love this environment just give the bin a kick as you pass by as well as your compost bin they don’t like human activity

Garden Jobs for January

Garden Jobs for January

Gardening in January is getting out on those rare nice days, but the garden can still be showy with seed heads, trees with different barks and coloured stems and shapes in different foilage .

Its time for your prepared bulbs in pots to bloom bringing them into to the house to flower they will however need watering but carefull water then let them dry and try to keep them in cooler rooms to last longer

Now the time to plant bare root trees Roses come to mind aswell as fruit trees and bushes ideal for the small garden is blueberries, figs, Pears on dwarf rootstock like quince C, grapes, redcurrants and whitecurrants.

For some fresh why not try microgreens on the window cill ,not just mustard or cress why not coriander, beetroot, rocket or pea shoots.

Rhubarb will probably be your first crop for the season after a good cold spell in January cover a crown over with dry straw and put a large upturned bucket over the top, weigh down with a brick this will encourage pale tender stems , check occasionaly for slugs and also any rotting were ventillation will help stop this. Also an ideal time to plant new stock Fultons strawberry suprise RHS Award garden merit .

Start ordering your seeds and potato seed

Dig over vacant ground applying compost and manure as you go

Fruit tree pruning and cut down autumn raspberries

Apple trees and Pears as free standing are best pruned every year removing congested branches aim to create an open goblet shape, if not pruned become less productive. cut outthe three D,s dead, dying and deseased wood and also crossing as they will rub against each other but onlry remove up to a third if more the tree will go into to much growth and no fruit.

Helping Queen bees you might come across a struggling bee put her in a cool, dry place to continue her hibernation you might need to give her a some suger solution to help her bost reserves.

Dont forget the RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch in ,January feed the birds and put a bell on your cat.