Monday, February 20, 2012

Back yard investment.

What do blueberries, rhubarb, and strawberries all have in common?
  • Easy to grow in small areas
  • Easy to prepare or freeze
  • All provide an excellent return on investment.
  • Great pies!
Living in the suburbs is not a reason for not having homegrown fruits and vegetables.  In fact, one of the biggest benefits to a small yard is the ability to putter out and pick yourself some fresh rhubarb for a pie or blueberries for your pancakes. 

Rhubarb.  Have you ever seen rhubarb growing?  It's pretty awesome stuff.  The leaves are huge and the bright red stocks are eye catching.  To harvest a stock you grab and pull.  I have landed on my behind many times pulling rhubarb but that's why you send the kids to do it as they will just laugh.  I have seen someone actually cut a piece off which I guess you can do but I think it's against the code.  The reason being that when you pull it out another stock can grow.  It is similar to pulling celery from the outside. 

Strawberries.  This year I have eaten more strawberries than I can remember.  The crop was amazing.  A plain strawberry is one of natures best treats.  Strawberries are prolific and send out runners so starting with a small number of plants can multiply in to a patch.

Blueberries.  Four bushes should be enough to eat all you want fresh and freeze some for pies, pancakes, and muffins.  They need plenty of water to produce those big luscious berries. Mom and I used to go out picking every evening and ate so many that we were lucky to get any into the house.

Each of these selections come back every year, need little pruning, and are extremely easy to grow.  Having nice fruit bearing shrubs was is an attractive selling feature of a home.  If you don't want a yard that looks like a berry patch you can intermix the plants with your other shrubbery for added color and texture.   Large pots or whiskey barrels can also provide a decorative piece.  Consult your local nursery for the best variety for your area and soil type.


Now for the real reason for the post. Pies. The selling of pies has become big business with prices ranging from $6 up to $15 or more.  Did you know that if you have your own fruit you can make a pie for about $2?  It's fun.  When my son was about 9 years old we started making pies.  It was part of his home school fractions instruction.  Once we were hooked we kept baking and started giving pies away. The next step was a farmers market and sold them one day.  He was even taking orders for them.  We had flour all over the kitchen.  If you have never tried either rhubarb or strawberry rhubarb pies they are available at most pie shops. If you would like some homework for this post you can drive down and have a piece just to see if you like it.

So there you have it.  In this post we have covered saving money, taking up gardening, baking, and a new family hobby.  Frugal living is not just about saving money, it is a lifestyle.

Related links:
Great pictures on rhubarb and growing other home vegetables.
People interested in green living are going to be excited about Mother Earth News!
I no longer have my old lifetime recipe box but I'll tell you my best kept never revealed secret.  Right before the pie is ready to go in the oven sprinkle about a teaspoon of sugar on the top of the crust.  It will give the pie a golden brown color and a tad of that sugar sparkle.
Here are links to strawberry rhubarb pie recipes:

Originally posted Aug 17, 2010


joe said...

Ya ride on! If people would only realize and see what they can do with what they already have, they would save money. I enjoyed your post. keep-em coming.....
Even though I have a homestead, I keep sharing with people how they can plant in planter on a porch, Hey look at herbs, price them by the lb. Ya Ouch! It can and is being done.

Kevin M said...

Thanks for this post. We moved into a new home last summer and are finally ready to plan our fruit/veggie garden (there was a lot of stuff to clean out first).

We love both blueberries and strawberries so they are definitely must-plant! I've never had rhubarb, but maybe it's worth a try.

Carol said...

Thanks. I had a lot of fun putting this post together. Glad you enjoyed it.

Anonymous said...

I can't get my strawberries to produce anything this year. It's very depressing to walk by and see the green little leaves without any of the luscious fruit...whah!

Carol said...

I'm sorry, that is disappointing. Did you check with the nursery to see if they needed a soil additive? One thing about plants is that sometimes they take a season off from fruit production so that the bush itself can grow. Good advice for us people who sometimes would benefit from a break. That link for Mother Earth News at the bottom might be able to give you some suggestions. They had an article about strawberries on the side bar.

Practical Parsimony said...

My mother also put a sprinkling of sugar on the top crust of pies. However, she put dabs of butter in 4 places before she sprinkled sugar.

I absolutely love strawberries, rhubarb, and blueberries. Strawberry plants were $10 each and my friend who was going to share plants with me died.

Carol Schultz said...

I did both of those things when making pie also - dab of butter and a sprinkle of sugar. The best! Thanks for the tips. Hope you can find a place to find the plants cheaply. $10 is crazy.