Rhubarb

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Homemade raspberry rhubarb juice.

The days of harvest have arrived in Edmonton. We’ve been enjoying one of our region’s most resilient and trouble-free foods.

I was especially impressed by the fighting spirit of the strawberry rhubarb plant that was growing on the property on which we built the Mill Creek NetZero Home. We dug a hole on the property in 2008, forming a mountain of clay over the rhubarb that stayed there for months. The clay was then unceremoniously scraped off by a bobcat, and the rhubarb’s growing area was used as a driveway to transport materials on and off the property for a year and a half.

So imagine my delight when I spotted this little guy a few weeks back.

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This rhubarb plant refused to die no matter how it was mistreated

My wife Rechel made a few juices using rhubarb (straight rhubarb juice, as well as apple rhubarb and raspberry rhubarb). It’s ridiculously easy:

  1. Dice up the rhubarb and other fruit
  2. Fill half of a pot with fruit, and top it up with water
  3. Simmer for 30-60 minutes
  4. Strain
  5. Add sweetener to taste
  6. Chill

The juice can be frozen for future use or kept chilled in the fridge. Trust me, you can’t buy juice this good in the store.

To grow rhubarb in your own yard, just transplant a small part of the root of a friend’s plant.  Make sure to give it some room though – rhubarb tends to get big!

Although rhubarb leaves are somewhat toxic (I’ve been talking about the edible stems this whole time), they can be composted once they are stripped off of the stems.

Rhubarb can be added to many things. Jam, crisp, pie. Whatever. It will taste like Alberta no matter how you cook it.

Guest Post: Avenue Homesteader

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Editor’s Note:I recently discovered a wonderful blog called Avenue Homesteader. Carissa Halton writes about her experiences with green local living in Edmonton’s Alberta Avenue area. I love her focus on food production and community efforts in the area. Carissa has generously offered up a guest post for Green Edmonton readers:

Cross-posted from http://avenuehomesteader.blogspot.com/:

For members of my household who love pumpkin pie and butternut stew, 2009 was a disappointing year. Total number of winter squash: 2. I gleaned one Buttercup and another Spaghetti squash from six large plants. It was a lot of green square footage producing a whole lot of nothing.

After some sleuthing and input from my squash-crazy sister-in-law, we’ve deducted a pollination problem. In 2009, I had plenty of flowers and the fruit would look like it was growing then instead yellow and die.

This year, I have taken matters into my own hands and started playing ‘Birds and Bees’. The first thing to surprise me was the sheer number of available male flowers and the woeful number of willing female compatriots. The ladies are more inclined to draw their virginal petals up demurely around their centre and remain like this most of the day. In my patch, fruit-making action happens exclusively in the mornings.

So if you share my problem, or skipped the Bio class where they taught this stuff, here’s how you can increase the conception rates in your squash patch:

1. First, figure out who’s female and male. The female flowers blooms from what appears to be a miniature squash. They look like they’re growing from a new fruit while the male flower buds burst from a long, narrow stem.  read more... »

The long slow decline of Alberta has begun

I'm a born and raised Albertan. I love this province and I'm proud of it's natural features. Having said that, I was shocked to see a recent article in the Edmonton Journal about how Alberta has started importing natural gas from the United States: Scarcity drives deal for imports

To be honest, I thought this should have been front page news.

Greener Holiday

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Travel is the toughest nut to crack. As a family, we’ve reduced our footprint in most areas of our lives by 80%-90%. However, there is no getting around the fact that travelling from Edmonton to Vancouver in a few days will burn a whole lot of fossil fuel.

We just got back from a three week tenting trip to Vancouver Island. We visited some of BC and Alberta’s wonderful provincial and national parks, and we also managed to see a piece of the lovely Northern Cascades National Park in northern Washington. It was a fantastic trip. After all, what could be better than camping with your spouse and kids?

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Our MEC tent – home for 19 days.

Our trip wasn’t greener than a cycle tour, but it was greener than it might have been. Some random thoughts about the trip, and greener holidaying in general:  read more... »