Rhubarb, rhubarb, rhubarb

I am fortunate in still being able to go to work since I work more or less on my own but the current circumstances are affecting us all. Back at home my plan was to build my raised beds for fruit and veg this month. Most of the fruit was bought last year and potted, in anticipation of the beds. but things may not go to plan if I can’t get out and buy the timber. But the rhubarb plants are sprouting and they will not be happy for another year in their pots so I decided to compromise and make a bed for the rhubarb out of some old scaffold boards left at the house by the builders.

I filled it with excavated soil mixed with recycled compost and some well rotted manure.

Rhubarb is not my favorite fruit (well vegetable really) but I can tolerate it while there is no other fresh fruit available and if it is red. Apparently there is no correlation between red colouring and sweetness in rhubarb but I don’t care! I remember my uncle working in a canned fruit factory and telling us about the green rhubarb that was canned, in red-dyed juice, that eventually took up the dye during its long life in the can.

I can’t understand why people ask if they can pull sticks in July and August when there is real fruit around. But as the point of the garden is to grow as much fruit and veg as possible, rhubarb is a tolerable necessity.

I have planted four varieties, chosen, I hope, for their quality. ‘Raspberry Red’ has bright red stalks and a supposedly sweet flavour. It seems to be a recent introduction.  ‘Early Red Victoria’ is an old and popular variety that is quite early (surprise) and only partially red-stalked. I have two of each of these so I can force one each year (with an upturned pot) and leave the other to grow naturally without weakening them. ‘Vinrabarber Svensborg’ is named after the Danish port of Schwenburg and means ‘wine rhubarb’ because of the deep red colour. It is supposed to be non-stringy and tender. I think much of the quality of rhubarb depends on cultivation and the age of the stalks so we will see how good it is. And the other is ‘Donkere Bloede Zoet’ (meaning Dark blood sweet in Dutch) so this should be interesting.

I have had the plants a year so, if they had been planted in the ground I could pull a stick or two this year but I should desist this year really to let the plants establish.

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5 Comments on “Rhubarb, rhubarb, rhubarb”

  1. Meriel
    April 1, 2020 at 10:41 am #

    Rhubarb is gorgeous in an upside down sponge cake, tart, jam with ginger or strawberry, my latest is Rhubarb and ginger which was very successful last year. Any old rhubarb is ok for this.

  2. Meriel
    April 1, 2020 at 10:43 am #

    Apologies, Rhubarb & ginger CORDIAL!

  3. Paddy Tobin
    April 1, 2020 at 8:52 pm #

    Unlike you, I love rhubarb and, as there are only two of us, we have a large bed and make great use of it – yes, before you ask, we are very regular! I normally force one or two stools but didn’t bother this year as it was mild all winter.

    We make a syrup of sugar, orange jest, orange juice and Cinnamon and then gently cook the rhubarb in this. It adds a very pleasant flavour to the rhubarb.

    • thebikinggardener
      April 2, 2020 at 11:25 am #

      I think I must have said that I don’t like rhubarb – I don’t dislike it, just it is more of a necessity rather than something I relish. But I do think it is useful and can be tasty. The idea of cooking with orange and cinnamon is a great one and would make it much nicer.

  4. tonytomeo
    April 2, 2020 at 10:15 pm #

    Really?! I love rhubarb! It is the same that my great grandfather gave me before I was in kindergarten. It resembles ‘Victoria’, and just might be. For a long time, that was the only cultivar available at the hardware store, but I really do not know what was around back prior to 1970 when my great grandfather got it. I really do not know where he got it from.

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