A-Z Gardening in Zone 3-4

For the organic gardner struggling in the short season climate


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Rhubarb, the first fruit of spring

A few weeks ago we moved our rhubarb bed to a new location, next to the herb garden. Each plant made many divisions, some only partial roots. Rhubarb is one of those plants that you can do just about anything to and it will still grow and produce. We decided to leave a few plants in place at the old location so we would have rhubarb to make into pies, crisps or just to eat raw or stewed, while the new bed takes hold.

The remnants of the old rhubarb bed

The leaves of this plant are highly poisonous and should never be fed to any animal or bird. It’s best to cut off the leaves while in the rhubarb bed and tuck them under the mulch to decompose and compost. The stalk is what is used for eating, canning or freezing. You can freeze the cut up stalk without blanching, it keeps very well this way. I have found that the best way to harvest it is to simply grab on to a stalk and pull. If it wont come out just cut it off with a knife as close to the plant as possible. You can substitute rhubarb for tart apples in most recipes.

Some people think that rhubarb should only be eaten in spring, however, Linda and I harvest it right up to the fall frost. If kept heavily mulched with straw, it will keep producing all summer long. Quality usually remains consistent if kept well watered in a dry summer.

Catalogs that sell rhubarb seeds or plants. Jung Quality Seeds, Gurney’s Seed and Nursery Co., Miller Nurseries, Johnny’s Slected Seeds, The Cook’s Garden, Henry Field’s, Burpee, Michigan Bulb Co..

Author: tbenkovitz

I have been gardening for over 50 years, 38 of them as an organic gardener in the short season climate of upstate New York.

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