Let’s Hear It For Rhubarb!
And you know what, I couldn’t agree more. Let’s absolutely definitely hear it for rhubarb, one of my favourite crops to grow. Rhubarb is a real Desert Island veg, I could not have a patch without as much rhubarb as I’ve space for.
Childhood Rhubarb Memories
I’ve grown up with rhubarb. Mum has a big patch at home, which she has been tending to for over 30 years. She’d freeze little chunks of the stems too, so there weren’t many weeks when I didn’t get fed stewed rhubarb, but I never complained. Rather than tire of the taste, I fell more and more in love with the veg-cum-fruit.
Rhubarb will always be close to my heart. Helping harvest from mum’s rhubarb patch is one of my earliest gardening memories, and I even recall playing hide and seek in amongst the spring time crop when people knocked on the door.
The red ants nest put a stop to this, but please, play along with my romantic childhood love affair with a rhubarb patch.
As I’ve grown older, rhubarb has begun to represent hope. When we’re slogging our way through February, the presence of rhubarb crowns, gently pushing up through the soil comes just when you really need a little dose of hope. By March, you’re not far from the first crops of the season, and the early rhubarb harvests are exhilarating moments, as well as a symbol of spring commencing.
I’m not sure there is a better smell on the plot than that of a freshly snapped rhubarb stem, either. I love breaking a stem in half and sucking up the syrupy scent almost as much as I do eating it. Maybe that’s the real reason I used to hide in the rhubarb patch back at mum and dad’s.
Whimsical mutterings aside, there are other just as significant practical reasons to love rhubarb.
As a perennial, rhubarb will keep returning year after year with minimum fuss. Rhubarb is reliable in poor soil, and its only want is a heavy Autumn manuring.
Multiplying your crop couldn’t be easier too. Divide old crowns by slicing up the massive roots. Don’t be scared to whip right through with a spade. I’ve found that so long as a bud remains on the crown, the rhubarb will be back.
Of course, most gratifying of all, rhubarb is simply delicious. I’ve become more adventurous as I’ve grown up, and while I still enjoy a nice dollop of stewed rhubarb, I have enjoyed trying as many other scrumptious recipes as I can find.
Rhubarb is so much fun to cook with, and there are almost limitless options for the sweet toothed amongst us. It makes stunning jam and divine crumble, as well as beautiful cakes. Perhaps best of all, is rhubarb crumble ice cream. Delia Smith has a super cheaty recipe which is well worth a try, although I like to fuse the crumble and rhubarb part with traditional ice cream.
As I look down the end of the garden towards my rhubarb corner, I’m filled with true excitement about the next few weeks. I predict I’ll be harvesting my first sticks towards the end of this month, which will also be the first crop to come from my Patch from Scratch.
I couldn’t think of a better fruit or veg to mark this milestone.