Pat Shingleton: "Spading the Garden and Rhubarb"
The timing on the recent thundershowers have provided a beneficial dose of nitrogen to our Spring gardens. Folks are forwarding pictures of their tomatoes, cucumbers, egg plants and of course a variety of beans. Years ago, in Pennsylvania, our grandfather "turned-over" the garden with a shovel until he was convinced Mr. Hollenbeck could "disc it up" with his tractor. Often the soil would be rejuvenated when the garden was seeded with type of rye grass that Gramps also "spaded" with the shovel. For many years, Mom would always prepare for her first crop of the season - rhubarb, followed by leaf lettuce, beans, tomatoes and sweet corn that should be "knee high by the 4th of July." Ground cover, that consisted of leaves and straw, protected her rhubarb from a final snow covering through late winter and early spring. She always harvested a bumper crop every year. From her tiny garden, she was the sole provider of rhubarb for the local Giant Eagle supermarket. The manager paid her "six-bucks-a-pound." If you're able to secure some from your market spot, once cut, steamed and seasoned with sugar its a great side-dish for dinner. We've heard that Sylvia Weatherspoon's rhubarb pie with strawberries is excellent. She never shared it with me, yet.