Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Hello, Rhubarb!

Granted the rhubarb emerged last month, but life has been busy with the arrival of my new son, Oliver. I'm just now getting around to reporting the latest happenings in the garden.

February was deceivingly warm--the weather that makes us Seattlites think winter is over and it's time to plant our tomatoes. I took the opportunity instead to move the rhubarb to a more ideal spot: more sun and better access to the hose. It's also next to my red flowering currant, Ribes sanguineum 'King Edward' creating a nice compliment with it's intensely hot pink flowers to the rhubarb's red stems.

A part of me dreads moving dormant plants. If it was a bulb, it wouldn't matter. But trying to move something with no stems, nothing on top, with just a mess of roots still makes me doubt the plant's survival even after doing it so many times. I'm always relieved see sprouting--a sign of life.

I was glad to see the rhubarb survived, but it was also flowering. Now what? Do I let it flower, and if I do, will it die or taste bad? I consulted a friend who has had good success with rhubarb, and transplanted hers last year. I was curious if her plant did the same thing, but hers never flowered. A quick internet search lead me to the Rhubarb Compendium. Not to despair. All I needed to do was cut the flower stalk down to the ground. I had a feeling that was it.

I was hoping for a crop this year, but I'll wait for next year. It's still slow growing. The advice my friend gave me was that rhubarb needs a year to adjust after being transplanted. In the meantime, I'll take advantage of the huge stalks at the Columbia City Farmers' Market!

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