Tuesday, March 20

Living inside a triangle!

Although the area defined as the Rhubarb Triangle is subject to various interpretations Wakefield is a constant so it is hardly surprising that we grow quite a lot of rhubarb on our plot. Reading up on how you should cultivate rhubarb you would think that on a heavy clay soil and given little attention that our rhubarb shouldn't flourish but it does. 

When we took on our plot, in the grass path along one edge, a clump of rhubarb persisted in growing in spite of numerous attempts to dig it up - in fact some of our clumps are descendants of this unknown variety having been hacked from the main clump as we tried to dissuade it from growing again and again. Eventually we won the battle but for a year or two the rhubarb gave us a good fight!

I've noticed on different blogs people have been comparing how far into growth their rhubarb is but there are so many different varieties of rhubarb some are early into growth and others later so it's hardly surprising that some people will have rhubarb ready for picking earlier than others.

Our earliest variety is Timperley Early - its a variety often used for forcing although we've never forced ours. Maybe it's a childhood thing (I can't remember a time when I didn't have fresh rhubarb to eat from a garden or use its leaves as a makeshift umbrella) but we quite like our rhubarb grown naturally.

Soon we'll be harvesting sticks from Timperley Early.
Then we have a couple of roots of Champagne rhubarb - this isn't as advanced as Timperley but is another fairly early variety. At the moment some leaf buds have just burst open.
Another of our varieties is Giant Crimson Grooveless. Strangely taking into consideration its name this variety doesn't grow as large and has very red stems. No leaves on this one yet but plenty of bright red leaf buds.
The last of our identifiable varieties is Raspberry - its strange how rhubarb steals the name of fruits as there is a variety called Strawberry and another called Early Cherry and another called Irish Apple. Maybe it's trying to make up for the fact that technically rhubarb isn't a fruit at all!

One of the Raspberry rhubarb clumps is causing concern as it looks dead but the leaf buds of the other are just starting to burst.
Then we have a few nameless clumps. At least one may be Victoria as I seem to remember us growing some of those from seed ages ago. These are at different stages of growth and many are swaddled in weeds but it's quite difficult to remove weeds that decide to grow wedged in the clumps and the rhubarb doesn't seem to mind!
If you want to read more about the Rhubarb Triangle I have a page on my website here

As you can see from the date Blogger decided to over-rule me and publish this post early than I scheduled it for! I was going to remove it but Tanya got to it before I did and I didn't want to delete her comment. Just wanted to say it's not Tuesday you haven't missed a couple of days but you may have missed the post that I did publish today about the frogs  which is here

25 comments:

  1. You certainly have a lot of rhubarb. I have never forced my rhubarb either and I also have no idea what type it is...when it's ready I pick it. I never really thought about different varieties and I certainly didn't realise how many there were. I may keep a closer eye on mine this year and then get another variety that is ready at a different time so as to extend the season.

    Thanks for the info Sue...though I'm not sure you intended this post to be published just yet?!?!

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  2. I didn't Tanya. As you can see from the date this was scheduled to publish on Tuesday but Blogger had other ideas - I was going to delete it but you got to it before I did!

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  3. Isn't Victoria meant to be a big brute of a thing (but smaller than Prince Albert). That should help identify it when it get's going. The one I'd like to add to my plot is Linnaeus. It's all green and not commercially available, probably because it is not suitable for forcing.

    Last time I tried to extend my rhubarb variety (from one to two) I think I managed to buy the exact same variety I inherited with the plot!! Not to worry because both root segments I bought failed to make it past one season (in fact one was a totally inactive piece of bark). In my old age I've learnt to be contented with what I've got!

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    1. If we have a Victoria we will have had it quite a while and I suppose the question is how big is a brute and will a brute grow as big in thick grass as when it is nurtured!

      This nursery near us claims to have Linnaeus - it may be worth giving them a call as they say they have some limited stock of rarer varieties

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  4. Ours is just coming through, and have no idea what variety it is. What I can say is that about three of them go to seed every year and I thought to divide the clumps this year. Sue, if you have any experience or advice to offer, please do. I dread the thought of digging it and dividing, but am advised the blooming will stop. Your thoughts appreciated.

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    1. Ours flower most years too. It doesn't seem to affect them. It is a big job to dig up a rhubarb. Advice from the experts is to divide every 4 - 5 years. It's really too late to do this now as the plant needs to be dormant so between November and March. When we have split ours we have just chopped through it with a spade. You need to have about 4 or 5 buds on each piece.

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    2. Thank you very much. The large one in the front is still dormant so I might give it a go, if I feel strong!! Otherwise, later in the year. Mine have been there twelve years or more so thought it might do them good. Now me, that's another question ;-)

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    3. I've just read that you can also trim the clump of rhubarb by digging around the clump and trimming the crown that way to 4 or 5 buds - this way you don't have to actually dig it up. The bits trimmed off can be planted to form more clumps. Nothing about it reducing flowering. It just mentions that if the sticks are becoming thin and spindly they need thinnning. Apparently some varieties are just more prone to flowering than others

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    1. Hope you manage to track some down

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  6. You've certainly got plenty of rhubarb growing. I keep saying that we'll have a trip to the forcing sheds but we haven't got round to it again this year. Your last post was interesting, I think the frogs are fed up of the fish gobbling up their potential babies.

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    1. We haven't been either Jo - the photos on my website were taken by a friend who told me all about it. I suppose familiarity breeds contempt

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  7. Crikey; that is a lot of Rhubarb! I've got Timperley Early too and it's pretty much ready to eat now. And rhubarb generally is pretty indestructible. Mine looked very sorry for itself in the dry weather last year and eventually died back. I thought it was a goner but it's all come back, good as new.

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    1. We thought the same Woody - ours looked really sorry for itself but only one root looks as though it may be dead.

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  8. I didn't realise that rhubarb enjoyed such a cool climate. I do like how its poking out of the soil, it must be fun to grow.

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    1. The rhubarb growers around us were complaining that the mild winter was bad for the rhubarb Liz. Apparently it needs a cold spell to break its dormancy and stimulate it to make new growth in spring

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  9. Never had rhubarb wonder how it taste like. I was afraid to grow it because of the leaves with my kids still small and don't understand the word "no touching".

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    1. It's not the touching of leaves but the eating of them that is poisonous Diana- it's very hard to describe what it tastes like really

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  10. Looks like you've a good amount of rhubarb coming! Do you eat it all, or maybe give some of it away? The rhubarb festival and rhubarb triangle link was interesting, kinda funny to see all the rhubarb stalks...looks like they are attending on their own!

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    1. We stew and freeze a lot of it Kelli to use out of season, some we eat fresh and some we give away. It's good not to have to pick it all as the plant is left with some leave so it can feed itself too

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  11. I don't know what variety my rhubarb is as I inherited in when we moved in but the patch at home is showing no signs of coming through yet, although I did a bit of hacking last year that has probably held it back. The patch at the allotment is slowly coming but is never as good as the one at home. Nevertheless, we always have more than we can possibly eat.

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  12. I hope the rot at home comes good for you Elaine

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  13. That's big collection of Rhubarbs! Never taste them before though. Easy to grow vegetable?

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    1. We find it fairing easy, Malar although sometimes a new root can be tricky to get started into growth for some people.

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