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.