Tuesday, April 19, 2011


May 2008:
I harvested my first ever rhubarb today! I am so excited! For those of you who haven’t heard my sad rhubarb story, I have been trying to grow rhubarb for about 5 years, and this is the first year I’ve ever gotten any. The first two plantings died, and we moved before I could see the outcome of the third. Those were all root stock I bought through mail-order nurseries. Last year I finally just gave in and bought a started plant from Walmart – and that’s the one that survived! I had always thought that rhubarb was one of those plants that you just couldn’t kill – I must have a gift!

April 2011:
Three years later, I am happy to report that I've had such good success with rhubarb that I was able to divide that same rhubarb plant I bought at Walmart into four separate plants. I was a little nervous, given my history, but I did my research and found that you can basically just cut up the root with a spade (trying to get at least one sprout per cutting) and replant in well-fertilized soil (hooray for clucker muck!) So I hacked away, accidentally even pulling up a 2-foot-long, 4-inch-diameter section of root (which I buried in a new location, just to see if it would do anything). Most of my cuttings were about 9 inches around (yes, it was a big plant!), and I pretty much just dumped them in their new hole and packed the dirt in around them. I spaced them generously - about four feet apart, which is about how big around this plant was last year.

Within days it was obvious that the new plants were doing just fine - the little sprouts were even starting to leaf out, with no sign of stress:
Even with the frosts and snowfall we've had the last few weeks, they're still coming up strong. I can't wait until the first harvest, so I can make some rhubarb crisp!

Rhubarb Crisp
(or apple, or peach, or raspberry, or even zucchini!)
1 cup flour
¾ cup oatmeal
½ cup butter, melted
1 tsp cinnamon (optional)
Mix until crumbly, press half into 9-inch square pan. Top with 4 cups rhubarb, washed and cut into 1-inch pieces (If you use zucchini, just cut it into 1-inch cubes. Apples or peaches should be peeled and sliced.)

1 cup honey
2 Tbsp arrowroot powder
1 cup water
Mix these together in a small saucepan and heat until thick and bubbly. Add 1 tsp vanilla and pour over fruit. Sprinkle with remaining oatmeal mixture.
Bake at 350 degrees for one hour.

In case you didn't know, you can harvest rhubarb all summer long, not just in the spring (I did this last year, even into September, and I'm still alive to tell about it!) This particular rhubarb was showing stress from overcrowding and from all the rain we got last summer (poor air circulation at the base of the stalks), so I went in and thinned it out periodically (we ate a lot of rhubarb crisp last year - we may be eating a lot of it this year, too, with four times as many plants!)

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