Perfect Rhubarb Pie from Garden to Table

| 6/12/2015 10:06:00 AM


When we started down the path of our self-reliant life the only place we could find rhubarb was in abandoned gardens and farms. Now, in the wake of the real food movement, rhubarb has been rescued from decades of neglect. Even if you don’t grow it, you will be able to find it in farmer’s markets during June and July. My method for planting, harvesting, and using rhubarb, from garden to table, was streamlined years ago to meet the demands of a busy gardening and farming life without compromising quality.

What Rhubarb Looks Like

No question about it, rhubarb is real food with an almost space-age presence. In early spring, sometimes through snow in the northeast, clumps of crinkled green leaves emerge from the ground, the first sign of a new growing season after what always seems to be a very long winter.

As leaves unfold, we begin to see their stalks or stems, green, red, or a combination of colors. By the time the stalks (the edible part) are ready to harvest, the leaves will be about 12 inches long, waved at their edges, and about 12 inches wide. Just 6 plants create an impenetrable barrier to weeds and an attractive hedge in our kitchen garden. As soon as plumes of fluffy cream-colored flowers appear, pull them gently out, unless you want to keep them as a garden accent.

What, When and How to Plant Rhubarb

Most gardeners like to plant 2 types, a red for color and a green-red for general use. Some popular varieties are Canada Red, Macdonald, and Valentine. We grow a very productive unnamed one from a neighbor’s garden. Two plants will provide plenty of stalks for one person.

In spring, choose a sunny site with good drainage and enriched soil. Plant roots so the crown (the nubby part) is above ground. Each crown should have 2 or 3 buds on it.

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