Saturday, January 7, 2017

Rhubarb

Plant of the Week
Rhubarb


Rhubarb is one of those old-fashioned plants that some folks may not know much about or how to use it. It would be a shame to leave off adding it to your garden. Rhubarb is such a beautiful plant and deer resistant that I have added it to my flower garden.  It’s large leaves makes a great addition to the edges or the rear of landscape areas. I know a rhubarb salsa that will knock your shoes off .  One of  the easiest and tastiest thing I make for Christmas is Rhubarb Liqueur. 

Why Grow Rhubarb?
Besides having a ready ingredient for jam, jellies, pies, crisps and other tasty treats, rhubarb is drought resistant, hardy, tasty and good for you.  Rhubarb is also loaded with Vitamin K, which supports bone growth and is a brain neuron protector. Rhubarb also contains C, A, and B Vitamins, with the added bonus of pantothenic Acid.  It is also one of the best sources of Calcium, up there with salmon and spinach. 

This beauty is also a much more versatile food than it is give it credit for. 


How to Grow:
Get a clump of rhubarb that has been divided from a friend or nursery, as it is generally not sown from seen. The celery like stalks are the food of the plant as the leaves contain oxalic acid and should not be eaten.  The crimson varieties are sweeter. 



Mature time:   This depends on how big of a piece of Rhubarb you have planted, but generally do not pick any of the stalks the first year.  


Planting:  Choose an area about 3 feet diameter for each plant at the edge or back of your garden in a sunny location unless you are in the hotter climates, choose a sun-in-the-morning spot.  (Rhubarb will do best in the milder climates).  Cultivate the area, digging in well-rotted manure or compost. Plant in early spring or in milder climates plant in the fall.  Dig a large enough hole to spread the crown and roots.  

Ph: 5.0-6.6 – Slightly Acid 

Watering:  Keep watered the first year and water only in very dry spells. Crowns can rot if ground is kept too wet.  


Growing: Keep bed weeded. You can mulch to weeds under control and to keep ground moist.   Side dress with manure or compost in Spring and Fall.  Cut any seedpods that shoot up near the base of  the plant. Rhubarb is not easily discouraged, with only minimal care plants will thrive. Divide about every 5 years or so.



Harvesting: Take a sharp knife with you and cut at the base of the stalks at least and inch thick.  2nd year, be mindful to leave at least half the stalks. Take as many of the stalks you want after the 3rd year.   You can also twist and tug the stalk. Remove the leaves before coming in the house.  Stalks can be used Spring to late summer.  But Rhubarb is most tender in the Spring.  Rhubarb freezes well.




Rhubarb is not for just sweet things anymore! Check out these recipes: 







Go to the link above or Basically: 
Place coarsely chopped rhubarb in a wide-mouth jar. Add vodka, Grand Marnier, and cooled sugar syrup; stir. Screw lid on tightly; let stand at room temperature for 2 to 3 weeks or until all the color leaches out of rhubarb. Strain mixture through a sieve over a bowl; discard solids.






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