Garden

Time for Rhubarb-Growing It

Rhubarb

Now is a special time of year in the garden-time for rhubarb!

Oh, how I love my rhubarb!

Rhubarb is the first, early crop that can be harvested from the garden.  After a long winter of a barren garden, the rhubarb pushing up is a very welcome sight!

Even after a light, late spring snow, it will still plug along.

About Rhubarb

Rhubarb is one of the perennial vegetables, and will return reliably year after year.  How nice to plant it once and enjoy it every year.

It is very hardy and problem free.

It has a large bearing in the garden and can be used as an ornamental.

Rhubarb, as a herbaceous perennial, grows from short, thick rhizomes.

It produces large leaves on tall stems.  The stems have a rich, tart flavor that is wonderful in cooking.

Rhubarb is a vegetable, but is used like a fruit in cooking and eating.

The reddish-green stalks are the edible part of the rhubarb plant.

Caution-The leaves of the rhubarb plant are poisonous-they contain oxalic acid and should not be eaten. (I cut the leaves off the stems while still in the garden, and lay them down in the rows and around the rhubarb plant; they make a nice mulch.  They can also be composted for later use.  The oxalic acid dissipates when composted.)

Growing rhubarb

Since rhubarb is a perennial, and will be growing in the garden for many years, choose an out of the way place, such as the edge of the garden, where the plant will not be disturbed while preparing the rest of the garden each year.

The bed for rhubarb should be carefully prepared-eliminate all weeds, dig in generous amounts of compost that is high in organic matter

A bushel basket sized hole (1 1/2 feet deep and 3 feet wide) should be dug.

The plants should be spaced about 4 feet apart-rhubarb grows quite large.

Rhubarb is best planted from root divisions and should be planted while it is dormant, in the early spring or fall.  This is a wonderful plant to share with friends, or to receive from a gardener friend.

The crown should be planted 1-2 inches below ground level.

Rhubarb prefers full sun, and well-drained soil.

Rhubarb is very hardy and needs cold winters, with winter temperatures of 40 degrees or below.

 

After planting, mulch the bed well with straw or cow manure.  The mulch will help retain moisture, discourage weeds and provide nutrients.

Rhubarb is seldom bothered by disease or pests.  The biggest problem will be crown rot if the bed is not well draining.  A raised bed would be a solution here.

Rhubarb will form a nice sized clump over the years and the plants can be dug and divided every 3-5 years while they are dormant.

 

Care of Rhubarb

 

Rhubarb is a very easy care plant-just keep it weeded and well watered through the summer months.

In the early spring, the rhubarb will send up a tall flowering stalk.  This stalk should be cut off to keep the plant bearing for a longer time.

In the fall, when the leaves and stalks begin to yellow and fall over, you can clear the bed off.  Now is a good time to put a 1-2 inch layer of manure/mulch over the bed.  I have found that rhubarb is one plant that can take straight chicken manure with out any problem.

Harvesting Rhubarb

Do not harvest any stalks the first year of its growing-it needs to send lots of energy to the roots and become established.  The second year, a modest harvest can begin, and by the third year you can harvest for 8-12 weeks in the spring.

Do not harvest all of the stalks at one time.  Take about 2/3 at each cutting,  leaving 1/3 for growth.  Harvest the 12-18 inch long stalks.

The rhubarb plant will let you know when it is time to stop harvesting-the stalks will become thinner and thinner.  It is time for the plant to rest till next spring.

To harvest the stalks, grab the stalk at the base of the plant and pull and twist gently.

A well cared for rhubarb patch should bear for 20+ years, giving you lots of delicious rhubarb for dessert.

 

I was wondering if there were any poems on rhubarb.  I was surprised when I did a search!  Yes, there are rhubarb poems!  Who knew?

Some may think its too bitter.

Quite the contrary.

As pie, its the tastiest

Treat, like no other.

My stomach then smiles

for rhubarb

Pie!

Michael Degenhardst

(who must love rhubarb pie as much as I do!)

What to do with the rhubarb you harvest?  Be on the look out next week for my favorite rhubarb recipes!

*

Psalm 145:8

The Lord is gracious and compassionate,

slow to anger and rich in love.

 

 

 

 

 

Garden

Flower of the Week-Daffodil

Daffodil

 

Daffodowndilly Crown

She wore her yellow sun-bonnet,

She wore her greenest gown,

She turned to the south wind

And curtsied up and down.

She turned to the sunlight

And shook her yellow head,

And whispered to her neighbor,

“Winter is dead.”

A.A. Milne

 

We are enjoying the cheery spring greetings of the yellow daffodils right now.  Such a common flower, but such a welcome sunny sight as we begin the march of the blooming flowers. Daffodils are one of the first splashes of color in the spring. What a welcome sight they are!

Daffodils can be enjoyed outside in the garden as well as inside in the vase.

Daffodils are a popular flower that multiply quickly.  Daffodils include narcissi and jonquils and they come in a variety of sunny colors, the usual yellow, along with white, cream, orange,  pink and multi-colored.  There are literally hundreds of varieties of daffodils, including different styles with trumpet, doubles, split cup and miniature sizes good for the rock garden and front of flower borders.

Growing Daffodils

Daffodils are spring blooming flowers that grow from bulbs. They are a very reliable and easy to grow flower.

The flower bulbs must be planted in the mid to late fall while the ground can still be worked.  You can find many varieties of the bulbs in the local stores in the fall, or harder-to-find varieties can be ordered from mail order nurseries in the summer.

Daffodils are winter hardy in zones 3-8.

Daffodils do well in full sun as well as part shade.

Bulbs should be planted 4-6 inches deep with the pointy end up and about 3 inches apart.

Daffodils will grow just about anywhere, but do prefer well-drained soil.

Daffodils should be kept well watered;  this is not usually a problem during the spring season.

Daffodils can be planted in among perennial flowers and will be done blooming by the time the perennials flower.

They should be planted in informal grouping to look more natural.  One idea for informal planting is to throw the bulbs out, and plant where ever they land. They will naturalize and multiply nicely.

A variety of daffodils can be planted for a longer bloom time in the spring, and they look lovely inter-planted with other spring blooming bulbs.

Daffodils also do well planted in containers.

Daffodils make wonderful cut flowers, but they do secrete a fluid that is irritating to the skin and that will inhibit other cut flowers  If daffs will be used in a mixed flower arrangement, the stems should be soaked in their own water for 24 hours, then rinsed off before adding to the other flowers.

 

Care of daffodils after bloom time

When daffodils are finished blooming, the flower stems can be removed, but the green foliage should be left to die off on its own.  This foliage builds the food storage reserves that the bulbs need to keep growing nice and healthy from year to year. When all of the foliage has turned brown, it can then be cut off at ground level, or it can usually just be pulled off with a little tug.  I have heard of gardeners braiding the foliage for a tidy look as it dies off.

A nice mulch of compost will be appreciated and act as fertilizer for the bulbs.

Daffodils can be lifted and divided every 4-5 years or so.

It looks like spring has finally arrived here in south-western Pennsylvania-the days are warming, the sun is shining much of the time, the perennials are popping up, the trees are starting to bud, the grass is greening-Oh, what a glorious time it is for the gardener, especially after this long winter.  I have been interested, and am looking to see what is coming up in the gardens of our new home-and it doesn’t look like much.  Mostly evergreen shrubs, I suppose a very easy landscape for the elderly couple who previously owned this house.  Everything looks neat and tidy.

There are no daffodils here-most of these flower photos are from our former home in Cottage Hill.  I did get 1 flower bed planted to spring blooming bulbs last fall, it is blooming right now and looking very pretty and ‘springy’.  I will share pictures next week.  Next fall there will be many spring-blooming bulbs planted, including many daffodils!

Are you enjoying your Spring?

*

Psalm 34:19 (TLB)

“The good man does not escape all troubles-

he has them too.

But the Lord helps him in each and every one.”

 

 

 

 

Garden

Flower of the Week-Crocus

Crocus

 

And all the woods are alive

With the murmur and sound of Spring.

And the rose-bud breaks

Into pink on the climbing briar,

And the crocus-bed

Is a quivering moon of fire,

Girdled round

With the belt of an amethyst ring.

by Oscar Wilde

The first flowers of the the year are blooming.  Crocus bloom in late winter and early to mid spring, with many of the blooms popping up even while the snow is still on the ground.  They open their flowers on those sunny, early Spring days, shining up at us, as if to tell us to not despair,  spring really is on its way.

Crocus are known for their cheerfulness, especially needed right about now, when everything in the garden is still dead and asleep.  Soon, soon.

How to Grow Crocus

Crocus are very easy to grow; they grow from corms, planted in the fall when the weather cools but before the ground freezes, usually in September and October.  You will find bags of bulbs in the stores about then, and they can be ordered from many seed companies.

They like a sunny location, with the flowers opening on sunny days and staying closed on cloudy days.

Crocus adapt most anywhere, but prefer a well-drained soil.  Dig some sharp sand into the planting hole along with a handful of good compost when planting if growing in heavy clay soil.

Crocus should be planted 3-4 inches deep, with the pointed end up.

Crocus is very carefree, and will naturalize anywhere, multiplying each year to make a nice clump of spring blooming flowers.  If planting in a flower bed, take care when planting your annuals later in the spring-it is easy to dig up the corms.

Crocus are good to plant right in the lawn-they will come up and bloom before it is time to begin the years mowing. The foliage, which is grass-like, can then be mowed off with the lawn.

They should be planted in groups of at least ten to be effective-1 little crocus would be too lonely!  They are good in mixed flower beds, and are a lovely start to the flower year.

Crocus are not bothered much by deer, rabbits and squirrels.  Bees love it for their early pollen.

Crocus come in a variety of colors-mainly lilac, mauve, white and yellow, and also many striped varieties.  They range in size from the small, early snow crocus to giant crocus.  There are also summer crocus varieties and, even more well-known, fall crocus.  The famous ‘saffron’ crocus is a fall blooming flower, with the saffron being harvested from the orange stamens.

Every Spring, as I am enjoying the blooming crocus, I vow to myself to plant many more the next autumn. Have never done it yet-maybe this fall?

Do you grow crocus and are your crocus blooming ?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Garden

12 Reasons to Grow a Vegetable Garden This Year

Spring will soon be arriving, and with Spring comes the thoughts of gardening.  Here are 12 reasons why you should be growing a vegetable garden this year.  Maybe you have gardened for years and these thoughts are not new to you, or maybe you have never grown a vegetable garden and are thinking about starting one. This year is a good time to start!

1.Healthy Food

photo credit-thehappygardeninglife

When growing your own vegetables, you can have complete control of how it is grown. What type of soil and amendments are being used,  or chemicals, if any, that are used.  How it is watered and cared for.  Good vegetables, grown in your own yard are wonderful, and wonderfully healthy for you.  You might even find yourself eating vegetables that you are not used to eating.

2. Exercise

photo credit-homesteading_in_oregon

Gardening can give you a nice exercise work-out.  Gardening is not work free, it does involve some physical labor.  Bending, stretching, lifting, all activities that get you moving if you choose to garden.  You can soak up lots of Vitamin D from the sun as you garden.

3. Save Money

There is an initial investment in growing a garden-garden tools, soil that might need to be  brought in, soil amendments, compost-if you don’t make your own, maybe lumber and supplies for some raised beds, maybe some seed starting supplies.  But once the initial investment is made, you can save money by growing many of the vegetables that you eat.

4. Prepare for Winter

Maria’s canning results from her 2017 garden.

Besides the fresh eating through the summer months, if you have grown enough produce, the excess can be ‘put up’, by canning, freezing, drying or root cellaring.  How nice to just grab a jar of canned green beans from your shelf or a bag of frozen corn from the freezer and have part of the making of a meal.

5. Sharing with Others

Meadow’s Farm Stand.

How nice to grow enough vegetables to share with others.  We have all heard the stories of the monster zucchini plants that won’t stop producing and overgrown zucchinis being left on neighbors door steps at night just to get rid of them, but it is so nice to have enough for your family, and to be able to share with those around you.  I’m sure there are many elderly that have grown gardens in their younger years and now are no longer able to garden, that would love some fresh tomatoes, cucumbers, and yes, maybe even zucchini!

Share with others!

6. Taste

Some of Esther’s harvest from her 5×5  garden.

There is just no comparison of the taste of fresh-from-the-garden vegetables to store bought veggies!  The ripe, sun warmed tomatoes, fresh peas, green beans…you might even find yourself eating the vegetables before they make it into the house they are so good!

7. Beauty

A well-kept garden is a thing of beauty.  But vegetable gardening does take a commitment of time to look good and produce well.

8. Training Children

Bethany, with her harvest of cabbages from 2017.

Growing a vegetable garden together as a family is a wonderful way to teach children responsibility and working together as a family with a common goal.  Children can take pride in the help that they do.

9. Learn New Things

photo credit-Homespun Friends

Gardening is like any activity-there is a lot to learn.  But learning, and trying  new things is fun, isn’t it?

10. Sense of Achievement

There is a nice sense of accomplishment in the growing of a successful garden.

 

11. Time Alone

photo credit-Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds

How nice to go out into the garden to spend some time alone and clear the mind.

12. Stress Relief

Gardening is cheaper than therapy….and you get tomatoes!  If you have a bad day at work, go out into the garden and hack away at the weeds!  Relieve your stress, and have a tomato when you are done.

Have you grown a vegetable garden before?

Are you planning on growing one this year?

Leave a comment and let me know what your gardening plans are for this summer!

*

1 Corinthians 3:7

So then neither is he that planteth any thing,

neither is he that  watereth;

but God that giveth the increase.