In the garden rhubarb tends to take a background role, sometimes almost forgotten in a corner of the garden. It's so easy to grow and can be left to it's own devices..
However as with so many other plants a little bit of TLC goes a long way. Manure or compost, plenty of water and a period of frost in the winter helps to produce good stems.
This is our rhubarb last year. There are three varieties, Champagne, Victoria and one unnamed one which was a present from a fellow gardener.
It was very dry spring last year and the rhubarb produced a lot of flowers which I cut off. We then added a seep hose to alleviate the problem.
Botanically speaking, rhubarb is considered a vegetable, but it's most often treated as a fruit — though it's rarely eaten raw.
Except by us as children when we used to dip a stick of rhubarb in sugar and convince ourselves it was a treat!
At this time of year forcing is a method of getting an earlier harvest of sweeter stems that don't need peeling. To do this outdoors, cover plants with a container or large pot to exclude the light. Place the cover over the rhubarb as soon as it begins to show signs of growth. We have a rhubarb forcer but a bucket does equally well, it's just not as pretty.
Fill the forcer with straw
Put the lid on and wait.
After several weeks the rhubarb should look like this...
|Zero Miles Food Diet|
The plant will now be exhausted. It's best to feed it and give it a year or so to recover.
For anyone interested in rhubarb, visit Kellie Castle in Fife where they grow a mind boggling 23 varieties!
And just in case you think I've completely lost it when it comes to spelling, can I introduce you to the "Roobarb" of the title. For those younger folk and others outside the UK, Roobarb and his mate Custard (what else?) got up to all sorts of hair brained schemes in a 1970s cartoon.