Sunday, 3 March 2013

Rhubarb Patch

One great thing about vegetable growing is that it is all done and dusted inside a single season. You can enjoy your success and forget about what went wrong. However, this year I am embarking on a long-term gardening project that won’t bear fruit for at least two years – perhaps three. One of my joys of my rhubarb patch is that, every year it gives me breakfast for nearly 200 days and more importantly, it takes little effort to look after. Rhubarb is one of the few perennial vegetables. The plants die back into the underground crowns every winter and new shoots emerge in the spring ready to be picked and eaten. That is if you do not get flooded as happen to me this year. Old Father Thames broke his banks for 73 days and drowned all my Rhubarb and so I have to start from scratch. Rhubarb crowns will take two or three years to become productive and gain enough strength for the shoots to be harvested regularly, but once established they would crop for between 10 and 20 years. Rhubarb is normally bought as one- or two-year-old plants, which saves a lot of time when you are eagerly waiting for your first harvest, but they are not cheap. You can grow Rhubarb from seed, but I have never done that because there is another way, which is much quicker and more reliable. Rhubarb is a very robust plant and grows bigger year by year. In addition, after a few years the plant really benefits from cut in half with a sharp spade this is to our advantage. Go round you neighbors and ask them if they have any Rhubarb that needs dividing I, sure you can find a few. When you prepare your new rhubarb bed, dig it deep and make sure there is plenty of manure.

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