Click below to listen to my Garden Bite radio show: Baseball, hotdogs and PIE! or Crisp!
I trust you’re all enjoying the festivities of our Independence Day. Wallowing joyfully in fireworks, baseball, hot dogs and apple pie or strawberry pie or blueberry pie. Wait, that should be rhubarb pie at this time of year. Or rhubarb crisp! That’s my personal favorite. Click on my Recipes at gardenbite.com for a tasty treat. As a kid, I thought rhubarb was totally uncool and only for “old” people. Apparently I’ve crossed over into that territory because, as I just mentioned, it’s a personal favorite. I’ve talked with people who say you have to have great soil and full sun to grow rhubarb. Well, I disagree. My dad had his planted on a slope on the side of the house that only received morning sun. HOWEVER…
If you have never grown rhubarb I would suggest you dig in organic matter and plant in a sunny location, it will prolong their life since it’s a perennial. Allow about 1 square yard of growing area per plant. The leaves can get enormous and, in fact, I used one to create a cement cast that was really cool looking. I’ll put that picture up on my website too. Buy rhubarb crowns from your local nursery, loosen the soil to a depth of about 8 inches and mix in organic matter. Cover the crowns with 1 to 2 inches of soil. Any more than that will delay growth. Press the soil firmly and water well. After you start seeing growth you can mulch the area. Remove any flower stalks as they’ll take up too much energy. Allow your rhubarb one planting season before cutting. The second year, give them a light cutting and then enjoy your rhubarb for years! Rhubarb was used as a medicine for centuries but not eaten since it’s leaves are poisonous.
Rhubarb crowns and budded pieces are best planted in the spring or autumn while the soil is warm and moist. Potted rhubarb plants can be planted out at any time of the year so long as the soil is not frozen, waterlogged or suffering from drought. These reliable perennials are undemanding but they do resent disturbance so you will need to choose a permanent spot in the garden where your plants can grow without interruption, from year to year. For all the dirt on planting, click HERE.
For the history of rhubarb, classified as a vegetable, check out this to Kitchen Project. The first recorded recipe using rhubarb is from 1807! Up till then they didn’t want to eat it because the leaves are poisonous and they were likely afraid to eat the stalks.
The picture below is from the Kitchen Project. I’ve always just chopped the stalks into chunks but I really like the way this looks!