Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Rhubarb, a Winter Warrior

The leaves and stems of our rhubarb plants dropped to the ground some time ago, marking the end of another year. But look what's happening. The rhubarb are pushing up new leaves and stems in the middle of December. Rhubarb truly is a cold-loving plant. The District of Columbia, with its horribly hot and humid summers, is about the southern limit for rhubarb. Many varieties will not thrive here. We are growing the green-stemmed Victoria variety from some spare root stock give to us by the Washington Youth Garden.

We are eagerly awaiting the spring, which will mark the third season since we planted our rhubarb. You should wait about three years after planting before harvesting rhubarb very heavily. This gives the plants plenty of time to establish healthy roots. So this year are efforts will finally pay off--rhubarbs sauce, rhubarb pie, rhubarb jam. Just the thought of it will keep us warm through the winter.


Diana Dyer said...

Well, I'm jealous of your weather. We are finally frozen solid in the upper Midwest, not a rhubarb leaf in sight for months, and our remaining kale is now under several inches of snow. However, we are fortunate to have rhubarb sauce almost daily on our cereal, yogurt, or mixed with applesauce and plenty still in the freezer to make cobblers all winter long! It's a great reminder of summer. :-)

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Martha said...

Oh, I love rhubarb and am so jealous that you can grow it. We are in Oklahoma zone 7 and have been told that no one south of Kansas can grow rhubarb.

I've planted it twice and it always perishes in our hot, humid summers never to be seen the second year.

Disappointing to say the least.

Consider yourselves lucky to grow the pie plant. I can taste it just typing it. Yum.

Sylvie, Rappahannock Cook & Kitchen Gardener said...

wait three years? I waited only one! So between summer mugginess, not planting it in a cool enough spot and my greed, no wonder it was only a short-lived guest in my garden.

Will have to try again


Ed Bruske said...

Diana, I really envy you having your rhubarb sauce available year round. When I was a kid, that was something we only saw in the spring. You must be freezing it. I will remember that when we make our own rhubarb sauce.

Martha, I can imagine how hot, dry and windy it must be sometimes where you are. I wonder if you could still grow rhubarb if you gave it some protection, such as covering with row cover.

Sylvie, yes, you should wait until the third year when the leaves will have supplied the roots with plenty of extra energy to withstand the harvesting. Otherwise, there's no photosynthesis going on.