Tuesday, May 22, 2018

May 8, 2018 Kim’s Weekly Garden Blog

Hi Gardeners
Petunia Night Sky
I’m back to gardening and writing after a thankfully short hiatus.  I am so behind this spring- (of course May always seems rushed to me)- because of first weather, then medical issues.  I set my own deadlines though so if I feel behind I guess it’s my fault.  My deadline is that everything be planted by the first week in June.  After all there is only so many days to the Michigan growing season.  I look forward to the days when I won’t feel guilty when I sit still for a few minutes outside and can just enjoy my work.
I’m having to decide whether to weed and prune or plant.  I’ve always wanted to get everything planted first, so it can get started growing but some places in the yard look so wild.  So, I am planting and look over and see weeds that need pulling or something that needs pruning back and there I go- off in that direction.  If my husband didn’t do the mowing, I’d really be in trouble.
So far, I have tomatoes and peppers planted in the veggie garden with sweet corn, pumpkins and cucumbers left to go.  I have lettuce that came up voluntarily and there are some volunteer scallions also. This year I think that will be it.  No potatoes, cabbage, carrots, or melons I think.  The strawberries are blooming, only a few weeks for them to be ready.
This year I’m mulching the vegetable garden and my strawberries with shredded straw.  It’s produced here in Michigan and compacted into plastic bag bales of 3 cubic feet, about the size of a regular straw bale, but when the bag is opened it expands to about 3 times that.   I got the bales for about $6 each. The shredded straw is also almost dust free.  It lays down nicely and neatly and looks good.  We’ll see how it performs in keeping weeds down.
The redbud tree, flowering quince, the apples and lilacs are in full bloom. The early bearded irises are beginning to bloom. The creeping phlox, brunnera, bleeding hearts, camassia, tiarella and sweet woodruff are blooming. The tulips are rapidly fading away, but the alliums are putting on a purple burst.  I have been making up my annual pots and baskets and putting in new perennials where I am taking out lawn in the front. 
I “harvested’ my bamboo this week too.  Last year after the mild winter it didn’t die back to the roots, so I left a lot of it alone, only thinning it out and pruning out any dead places.  This year it died to the roots.  This made me lots of plant stakes.  I have some an inch around and easily 10 feet long.  They could make fishing poles.  I trim off the tiny branches and add them to the compost pile.  Now there is a wide assortment of sizes and lengths of bamboo stakes for me to choose from now.
Bamboo, (the real stuff not Japanese knotweed), can be a bit of a nuisance when it spreads so make sure you can mow around your patch or plant it in a container if you want to grow it.  But it does make a good screen and can be a pretty accent plant.  Think of it as a resource if you get more than you want – the “wood” can be used for all kinds of things.
Should you move the houseplants outside?

I have a lot of plants that are technically tropical tub plants and plants that are only marginally hardy in my planting zone and about this time of year they are literally screaming to be outside.  About half of those have already been moved outside to sheltered locations.  But I also have plants that are more traditional houseplants and soon they will be going outside too. I strongly believe that almost all plants benefit from a summer outside, just as our children and pets benefit from being outside.

There are situations where moving plants outside isn’t practical.  When the plants are in office or commercial settings it’s hard to move them in and out. Some very tender or very valuable plants may be better left inside.  People who live in apartments may not be able to give their plants a vacation.  But when they can be moved outside into a suitable environment there’s nothing better for plants than to be outside.

I love seeing how some of my plants turn dark green and develop full, lush leaf covers after I move them outside.  The blooming plants bloom more frequently, and the colors are better. The wind strengthens the stems and rains wash away dust.  After a few weeks in the right location your plants will be glowing with health. They may put out lots of new growth. A few months outside will allow them to survive all those winter months inside much better.

And since I’m outside a lot in nice weather the plants are where I am.  I can use a hose to water them or wash off dusty leaves and not have to worry about getting water on the floors.  And that’s only if the rain doesn’t give them what they love.  And if they need repotting the mess is outside.

Where to put them

You can develop special houseplant summer vacation spots, or you can incorporate some houseplants into your outdoor plant areas.  Spider plants for example, can be used in place of spikes in containers. Many houseplants can be worked into summer container gardens.  Shade gardens can have Norfolk pines added to provide texture and height or rex begonias can be added for color. Cacti and succulents may be worked into rock gardens. Of course, things like geraniums and hibiscus are excellent for porches and patios.

People worry about houseplants picking up insects outside, but some insect problems are eliminated or controlled by moving plants outdoors.  Outside natural enemies can find the pests.  Wind and rain wash and blow them away. I rarely find that houseplants are bothered by insects like Japanese beetles when they go outside.   While it’s true insects may be carried inside after plants are outside for the summer they can be treated just before the move back inside to lessen the threat.

A successful transition to summer outside for the plants takes a bit of care and planning. The dangers of frost and freezing should be over of course, but some plants also require even warmer conditions before they are happy outside.  Know your plant’s requirements for warmth. 

I move geraniums, my hardier jasmines, and overwintered zone 7 plants (I’m zone 5b-6 depending on the source) outside first.  Next are plants like spider plants, potted cannas, tuberous begonias, crocosemia and rain lilies.  Last are the more tropical pots of hibiscus, citrus, Norfolk pines, jades, tender succulents, holiday cacti, and assorted other things. Almost all my plants go outside, only a few stay in to keep the house green.

Even plants that like bright light and were in good sunlight from a window or under grow lights can be harmed if they are placed in direct sunlight immediately.  The UV rays from the sun are much stronger outside than when they shine through a window.  I admit I have burnt some plants by moving them into sun faster than they were able to acclimate. The damage will show up as white blotches on leaves or browned areas. In most cases plants recover and replace the damaged leaves but you want to avoid this trauma if you can.

It’s wise to choose a shady spot to move plants into for a few days.  If you know there’s a stretch of mild but cloudy or rainy days ahead it’s the perfect time to move plants outside. Some plants though, will never be able to go into full sun conditions.  Those plants may surprise you- many succulents, kalanchoes, jades, your Christmas and other forest cacti, Norfolk pine, philodendrons, pothos, streptocarpus, calathea, prayer plants, ferns, ficus, fuchsia, schefflera, some dracaena, cordyline, rex begonia, and many others cannot take full sun even after an acclimation period. They will need light, filtered shade or partial shade for the summer. Most people don’t move African violets and orchids outside but if you do they need partial shade to shade.

After an acclimation period some plants can take full sun.  Those include citrus and other potted fruit trees, hibiscus, brugmansia, rosemary, other herbs, geraniums, desert type cacti, mums, mini roses, poinsettia, amaryllis, some palms and croton.

And the wind is a shock to plants kept indoors also. Make sure your acclimation area is sheltered from strong winds.  Keep the plants well- watered for a few days to help them adjust.  Many houseplants don’t do well in a continuously windy area outside after acclimation either. Banana leaves for example are often shredded in windy locations. Siting them against fences or buildings may help.
You may have to move some plants several times to keep up with shifting seasonal light or because they don’t seem happy with the spot they are in.  But once you find the right location for the plant you will know it by how healthy the plant looks.

Make sure to keep an eye on the plants water needs. Some pots will need watering frequently outside, especially those in sunnier locations.  All pots outside need to drain well, you may have to lift them up off the ground a little for good drainage. Try putting a few small stones under the pot, making sure not to block drain holes. Plants on patios and decks may also need a slight elevation off the surface.

Check pots after a spell of really wet weather to make sure pots aren’t too wet.  If you can’t improve the drainage try turning the pot on its side and elevating the bottom slightly.  This may allow water to drain off the top.  If pots can drain well too much rain is rarely a problem.

These rex begonias were planted right
in a shady border.

Fertilize plants while they are outside for the summer if you want good growth and bloom. Stop fertilizing about a month before your expected first frost and before you bring the plants back inside.

My plants usually go on the deck right next to the house where they are in shade except for the very early morning sun.  I bring them out in stages, moving the ones out there to their spots for the summer after a week or two and then replacing them with more plants from the house. Some get left on the edge of the deck, where there’s more sun through the summer, but others spend time under trees.

Of course when fall comes there’s the chore of moving everything back inside but I’ll worry about that then.

Planting Tomatoes

No tomato tastes better than a tomato ripened on the vine.  You can have your own vine ripened tomatoes beginning this summer.  Tomatoes are the number one garden vegetable that people plant and they are fairly easy to grow, even for beginners.  You can even plant tomatoes in large pots if you don’t have a garden space, as long as you have a place that gets at least 6 hours of sun a day.  While you can grow tomatoes indoors under lights this article is going to give instructions and tips for planting tomatoes outside.

Most people start with tomato plants, which are available in almost every garden shop in the nation.  You can start tomatoes from seed, but you’ll need to start about 6-8 weeks before the date you want to plant them outside.  If you are new to gardening it’s probably better to begin your tomato growing experience with a young plant, called a transplant.

Do consider growing several kinds of tomatoes, because each variety has a distinctive taste and different varieties begin ripening sooner than others.  There are traditional red tomatoes but there are also yellow, orange, pink, white, green, purple and striped tomatoes.

How many tomato plants should you buy?

That depends on the space you have in which to grow them, you’ll need about 3 square feet per plant.   If space isn’t a problem, consider whether you want fresh tomatoes for eating and/or if you want tomatoes for canning.  A family of four will probably get all the fresh tomatoes they want from 3-4 plants.  If you want to can or freeze tomatoes or make sauces and salsa you’ll want at least a dozen plants.

If you can, choose some early and some later ripening varieties of tomatoes so that you will have a constant supply.  Read the plant label to see how many days the tomato variety takes to maturity, which means the number of days from when you set the plants into the ground, or a large container, to when the tomatoes produce ripe fruit.  Early tomatoes have fruit that is generally smaller than later ripening varieties, but the flavor is usually great.

Choosing healthy plants

Tomato plants are available in a variety of sizes and prices.  Cell packs contain 4-6 small tomato plants, usually all of one variety.  They are generally the least expensive way to buy tomatoes. Healthy tomato plants in cell packs will quickly catch up to larger potted plants in growth. The disadvantage of cell packs is the plants are generally all the same variety and if you want several varieties, you’ll have a lot of plants. 

When you are choosing healthy tomato plants in cell packs look for stocky, dark green plants without flowers or fruits. Lanky, yellowish plants with flowers or fruit are stressed and won’t do well in the garden.  Don’t choose them.
Tomatoes that are potted individually in larger pots can be taller and even support flowers and fruit, depending on the size of the pot, without being stressed.  The larger the pot, the more advanced the plant can be, a plant with small green tomatoes should be in a pot at least 6 inches across, larger pots are better.  These plants are more expensive but it’s often fun to get at least one tomato plant that already has flowers or fruit so that you get early ripe fruit.  Choosing individual tomato plants in pots allows the person who doesn’t have a lot of garden space to have several varieties of tomatoes. 

Potted tomato plants that are flowering or that have fruit take a little extra care when they are planted.  Look for potted plants that are compact and dark green.  A few yellow leaves on the bottom of the plant are normal but avoid plants that have a lot of yellowed leaves or spotted and curled leaves.  Look for plants without signs of insect damage or insects on the leaves.

When to plant

Tomatoes are tropical plants and need warm soil and frost-free conditions to grow.  The best time to plant tomatoes is when the lilac plants in your area are in full bloom or the leaves on the oak trees are the size of your thumb. This generally means frost is over for your area but it’s only an estimate. Even then keep an eye on the weather and be prepared to cover the plants if the weather forecast calls for a frost or freeze.

Don’t be in a rush to get your tomatoes into the ground.  If the weather and soil are cool the plants will just sit there, barely surviving.  Tomatoes planted after the weather is warm and settled will take off quickly and be strong and productive.  They often catch up to and surpass plants that sat through cold periods or suffered frost damage.

Tomatoes protected from frost and too much sun just after planting.

Choosing a good location for planting

Tomatoes need at least 6 hours of sunlight to produce good fruit.  They thrive in a variety of soils but loose, fertile soil where tomatoes haven’t been planted in at least a year is best.  If your soil is very sandy or is heavy clay, you can work in a generous amount of compost before planting.  Do not amend each hole, rather work in the organic matter before making holes.

You’ll probably want to keep the tomatoes out of a high traffic area and while deer and rabbits don’t generally touch the plants many animals enjoy the ripe fruit, so you may want a fence around them.  Chickens love ripe tomatoes by the way.

The actual planting

Dig a hole a little deeper than the root ball of the tomato plant.  Unlike most plants tomatoes have the ability to grow roots from little “bumps” along their stems and planting them slightly deeper than they were in the nursery helps them form a good, extensive root system. Remove any leaves below the soil line before you fill in the hole around the plant.  If you have tall, lanky tomatoes, maybe bargain ones left at the end of the season, you can remove all but one or two sets of leaves and bury the stem deeply.

Let’s talk about one of the biggest garden myths here- Epsom salt.  Tomatoes do not need Epsom salts.  They aren’t fertilizer, won’t keep away insects or disease or make tomatoes taste better. They don’t stop blossom end rot.  Do not add Epsom salts at planting or any other time.  Epsom salts may even contribute to poor growth and fruiting failure as they can bind with other soil elements and prevent them from being used by plants.  Mineral imbalances may cause more foliage than fruit to develop. The salts can burn plant roots too. Don’t use it, no matter what you hear on various social media sites.

Space your tomato plants at least 3 feet apart.  That looks like a lot when they are small but when they are large the plants need good air flow around them to help prevent disease.  Don’t plant tomatoes against a building or solid fence.  The reflected heat and poor airflow will cause many problems.

Place your tomato cages, stakes or other supports when you plant the tomato.  All tomatoes should be kept off the ground to avoid problems with fungal disease.  If you are going to use plastic mulch that should be placed on the ground before you dig the holes.  You will cut holes in it where the tomatoes are placed.   If you are going to use a mulch such as straw or bark chips wait a week or so after planting to put it down and make sure the soil is moist first.  Mulch is good to suppress weeds but don’t make it more than 3” deep as it will prevent water from reaching the plant roots.
Make sure to water the tomato generously after you plant it.  The best day to plant tomatoes is a cloudy one.  If the weather is hot, sunny and windy cover the plant with something such as a sheet of newspaper or some light fabric to lightly shade it.  This keeps it from wilting as it grows new roots.  Remove the shade after 2-3 days. 

Caring for the tomato plant

Tomatoes produce the best quality fruit if they are watered regularly.  How often that is will depend on the weather and your soil.  Don’t allow them to wilt, but don’t keep the soil soggy wet.  If tomatoes are in containers they must have good drainage.  Generally, a deep watering once a week will be fine for plants in the ground, but when the weather is very hot and dry or your soil sandy you may need to water more often.  Plants in pots will need more frequent watering.

Try to keep the water off the leaves when you water, direct the water to the base of the plants.  If you do water from overhead do it several hours before sundown so the plants are dry before dark.  This helps prevent fungal disease.
Too much fertilizer will produce tall plants with lots of leaves but little fruit.  Use a slow release granular fertilizer when you plant the tomatoes or use several applications of water soluble fertilizer during the growing season, following the label directions carefully.  A fertilizer made for tomatoes is best, but a fertilizer labeled for vegetables will work.

Keep the tomato plant off the ground by regularly tying it to a stake or other support or use heavy duty tomato cages.  Remove any yellowed or spotted leaves regularly and dispose of them away from the plants.  A few people still allow plants to sprawl on the ground.  If you do this put a mulch down on the soil surface.

Tomato fungal diseases are the bane of all tomato growers and by summers end almost all tomato plants will be suffering from some degree of fungal disease if they are not being sprayed regularly with a fungicide.  You must prevent fungal disease, you cannot cure it.  Some fungal diseases cause minor loss of fruit and plant quality, and decreased yield, others, such as late blight, can kill the plant.
Whether to use a fungicide on your tomato plants is a personal decision. 

Fungicides are safe if you choose one labeled for tomatoes and follow the directions on it carefully.  You must apply it consistently.  Healthy plants will produce nutritionally better fruit than ones struggling with disease, and careful washing will remove pesticide residue, but you must decide if that route is for you.  There are so called organic fungicides, but they are either as toxic as non-organic ones or just not very effective.

Blossom end rot cause a blackened area on the bottom of tomatoes.  It’s not a disease but is caused by uneven watering, plants being too wet then getting too dry. It’s sometimes hard to control because you can’t control the weather but when conditions improve the new fruit will not have the condition.  You can help by not letting plants get too dry between rains.

New research shows that blossom end rot is not caused by a calcium deficiency as once thought.  You can’t cure or prevent it by adding calcium and certainly can’t prevent it or cure it with Epsom salts.  If you have trouble with blossom end rot every year there are varieties of tomatoes that are more resistant to the problem.

Other than tomato hornworms, a big fat green worm that strips tomato leaves and also munches fruit, tomatoes have few insect problems.  Hornworms are best controlled by hand picking and squashing.

If you like eating tomatoes, you’ll enjoy them even more if you grow them yourself.  Pick one warm from the sun, bite into it and let the juice run down your chin. Think bacon and tomato sandwiches with luscious, flavorful tomatoes.  Picture jars of cheerful red canned tomatoes lining your cupboard selves.  Get out there and plant some tomatoes.

Forget me nots

The forget me nots are blooming in late spring and early summer but what plant you have growing in your garden with that common name may not be the plant someone else associates with the name.  That’s the trouble with common names.

There are several plants with the common name Forget me not.  They are confusing because the flowers are somewhat similar in appearance.  One is the annual plant Myosotis stricta and some others are the perennial Myosotis alpestris and Myosotis sylvatica and the unrelated Brunnera macrophylla.
Myosotis stricta is a tiny plant native to Eurasia that has become widely naturalized (gone wild) in the northeastern US and Canada. They will grow in sun or semi-shade and prefer moist areas but will tolerate many other conditions.  Another common name is blue scorpion grass. There are two less common species Myosotis arvensis and Myosotis verna that have also naturalized in some areas.

Myosotis sylvatica
In commerce there are other species such as Myosotis alpestris and Myosotis sylvatica. These are native to Europe and have also naturalized in some parts of the US. These are short lived perennials but reseed freely.
Mysotis plants are less than a foot high. The leaves are blade shaped, they can be lobed or non-lobed and are arranged alternately. Stems and leaves are lightly hairy.

The tiny, (1/8-1/4 inch), 5 petaled, flowers can be blue, (most common) or pink or white. Myosotis alpestris and Myosotis sylvatica flowers usually have yellow centers and open flatter than Myosotis stricta.  Plants bloom in late spring into mid-summer, lasting several weeks. The flowers turn into little hard seed pods with 4 seeds. They readily reseed once established and can spread around the garden and into nearby environments, where they do little harm.

Gardeners generally plant these Forget me nots by sprinkling the seeds on prepared ground and pressing them lightly into the soil.  This can be done in early spring or even in the fall. These Forget me not looks best planted in drifts.
Brunnera macrophylla is a larger more substantial perennial that is also referred to as Forget me not in some places. Another common name is Siberian Bugloss. An older scientific name was Anchusa myosotidiflora. They are native to Turkey and grow best in planting zones 3-6 as they need cooler summers to do well.

Brunnera has large, heart shaped leaves of bright to dark green.  There are variegated foliage varieties.  Plants grow to 2 feet tall and make large clumps when in a suitable spot.  The foliage stays nice during mild summers but may die back or look ratty if summer is hot and dry.


Brunnera has stalks of tiny blue flowers rising above the foliage in late spring which greatly resemble the Forget me nots in the Myosotis family. The tiny flowers have yellow centers.

‘Jack Frost’ is a common cultivar which has silver leaves with green veins that is quite attractive. ‘Alexanders Great’ is a huge brunnera which also has silver leaves. ‘Kings Ransom’ has leaves with a light silver netting and gold edges.  ‘Variegata’ has white leaf margins.  There are other cultivars.

Brunnera prefers partial shade and rich organic soil. It will take some dryness but prefers evenly moist soil.  It’s an excellent choice for something a bit different in the shade garden.  It has few disease or pest problems and deer seem to leave it alone. 

Gardeners will want to start this Forget me not with a potted plant or from a rhizomatous root.  It does set seed and occasionally spreads by seed but isn’t an aggressive spreader.  Seedlings from variegated varieties usually revert to plain green. Clumps enlarge over the years.  Clumps can be divided for propagation also.

Growing lilacs

Common lilac
Lilacs were one of the first plants that early settlers brought to America.   Nothing can top the lovely fragrance of lilacs as spring begins to slip into summer.  Lilacs are so hardy and easy to grow that they often persist for hundreds of years after the person that planted them is gone, as many old abandoned farmsteads can attest.  While considered old fashioned by some, lilacs are one of the most planted landscape shrubs in North America.   They are a phenological indicator plant, a plant used to predict the emergence times of pest insects, and growth stages and planting times of crop plants.

The large bush lilacs make good privacy screens and hedges.  Tree lilacs make excellent specimen trees as they have interesting bark and fall color as well as flowers.  Dwarf and compact varieties of lilacs can be used in foundation plantings and in perennial beds.  There’s a lilac for every sunny garden.

Lilacs are originally from colder areas of Asia and Europe.  They do well in planting zones 4-7. Most lilacs grow as large shrubs.  Some varieties of lilacs, however, grow as small trees, with a single trunk.

Lilacs have dark green, heart shaped leaves.  Lilac flowers range from lilac to deep wine- red, white and light yellow.  The flowers are born in large clusters in late spring.  As they age the flowers may become lighter in color. Most lilacs have that wonderful lilac scent, but beware; some varieties have little or no fragrance. Lilacs bloom for only a short time, so to prolong the heavenly scent; you can plant several varieties that bloom at different times.

Growing Lilacs

Choose the site for your lilac carefully as they resent being transplanted.  Although they root easily, they may not bloom for several years after being moved.  Lilacs need full sun for the best bloom and disease resistance.  Lilacs will grow in partial shade but they bloom very little and often get terrible cases of powdery mildew.

They prefer light sandy soil that is slightly alkaline and well drained.   They may not bloom well if the soil is too acidic and may fail to grow in heavy, wet soil.  Lilacs can get 15 feet high and wide, so make sure the spot where you plant them will be big enough for their adult size.  If you are using lilacs as a hedge or screen, plant lilacs 6-10 feet apart.

Transplant lilacs in a cool period of the year; early spring before they leaf out is ideal.   Keep them watered while they get established.  Too much nitrogen will cause lilacs to have lots of leaves and few flowers, use a little 5-10-10 fertilizer in the early spring if the plant seems to need a boost.

 Pests and disease

Lilacs sometimes get powdery mildew, a fungal disease that makes the lilac leaves look like they were dusted with white powder.  While it looks bad, it doesn’t affect the lilac plant too much.  You can use a garden fungicide as a preventative spray once the weather starts getting warm.  

Another problem of lilacs is lilac borer.  If lilac stems seem to be wilting, check them for tiny holes.  This usually affects older, woody stems.  If you find holes, trim that stem off as close to the ground as you can and destroy it.   Pruning the oldest stems off lilacs helps prevent lilac borers from being attracted to your bush.  You can also treat the lilac with a systemic insecticide to kill borers.

Pruning Lilacs

Lilacs bloom on old wood, the blooms form on stems that grew the year before.  Too much pruning at the wrong time will leave you with no flowers.  Prune lilacs immediately after they flower.  If the bush is too large and overgrown, take out the largest and oldest stems first, the ones with woody bark.  Unless you need a drastic pruning to restore order, don’t remove more than 1/3 of the plant at a time.  

The old-fashioned lilacs get tall and the blooms eventually occur well over your head. You can trim the tops back to a more manageable height, but you may not have many blooms the next year.   Most shrub lilacs sucker from their root system, remove suckers that are spreading too far into other areas. They can be dug and transplanted to start new lilacs.  All lilacs benefit from removing the dead blooms so they don’t form seeds.

Korean lilac

Some Varieties

There are hundreds of varieties of lilac. If you like the look of old fashioned lilacs, choose common lilac, Syringa vulgaris.     Some popular varieties include; “Lilac Sunday”- typical lilac color but many more flowers, “Charles Joly”- double flowers of dark purple-red, “Rochester” - white, “President Lincoln”- blue, “Krasavitsa Mosky”- double flowers of pearl pink, “Primrose”- pale yellow, “James McFarlane”- a late blooming pink, and “Sensation”- a violet red with white edge.  Dwarf and compact varieties include “Miss Kim”-lilac color and late blooming, “Tinkerbelle”- deep pink, and “Red Pixie”- wine red.   Tree lilacs are often sold as “Chinese” or “Korean” tree lilacs.  Most tree lilacs have creamy white flowers but “Syringa meyeri” has red-purple blooms.

Rhubarb and pineapple cake

Rhubarb pie is fine but if you want something different try this cake. It’s easy to prepare and tastes delicious.  You could frost it, but it’s great with a scoop of whipped cream or vanilla ice cream, especially while warm.  It’s not as sweet as some cakes, but soft, moist and flavorful. This makes a good potluck dessert, something different.  Rhubarb and pineapple cake also freezes well.


2 cups of peeled, sliced rhubarb
3/4 cup of sugar
3 tablespoons butter
1 yellow cake mix
1 20 oz. can of unsweetened crushed pineapple, don’t drain.
3 eggs


Grease a 13x9 inch cake pan.  Preheat oven to 350. 

In a microwave safe bowl combine rhubarb and sugar.  Cover bowl and microwave on high for about 3 minutes.  The rhubarb should look like the consistency of the crushed pineapple. 

Add the butter to the rhubarb bowl and let it melt.  In the meantime, combine the cake mix, 3 eggs and can of pineapple in a big bowl.  Pour in the rhubarb-butter mixture.

Beat with the electric beaters until the cake mix and other ingredients are well combined, about 2 minutes.  Pour into greased pan and bake for about 35 minutes- until a knife inserted comes out clean.  Cool slightly and serve.

The world's favorite season is the spring. All things seem possible in May.
-Edwin Way Teale-

Kim Willis
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