Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Be-Bop-A-Re-Bop-A Rhubarb Plant

When is it not a good time to talk about perennial plants? They are tied to the ethos of humanity, the desire to drink from the Holy Grail or the goblet of everlasting life. Each year reborn, the perennial plant creates a rhythm that furnishes joy in the hearts of gardeners. Such plants are the definition of economic: buy them once, grow them forever. They can be cut, chopped sliced and diced, thrown back below the ground, buried like a dead man and resurrect to life as ten, twenty, even thirty brand new expressions of the same plant. The perennial is harder to kill than Jason.

Speaking of Jason, what perennial plant would not love to have to power to delight the taste buds while harboring the power to kill its eater? Such is the case with the Rhubarb plant. Fear not, however, the Rhubarb has graciously shared her secrets with the tongue of man. She is safe and delicious to all her respect her. Eater beware! her green leaves are poisonous, oh unto death, but her bright red stalks are tart and nutritious, safe to digest. And the beauty of her planted life is that she is perennial and quick to sprout. A mature rhubarb plant can be split at the base and planted in two separate locations only to mature into two full plants. This growth strategy can be utilized exponentially, making rhubarb a virtual cure for world hunger.

In four season climates, rhubarb plants should be cut back by mid fall. Trimming the stalks encourages greater growth in the seasons to come. They will die off with the snows and disappear beneath the ground only to regrow in the spring of the following year. Their first harvest will be faster than all other competition with edible stalks mature by late May (in states south of Minnesota and Maine). Rhubarb can grow with limited sunlight, and sprouts up in nearly any soil condition. For gardeners who have endured difficult failures, the rhubarb plant—she likes to be called Ruby—will stroke the ego and counsel him or her back to gardening health. In conclusion, love Ruby, respect her leaves and enjoy her tart sprouted stalk like bleeding heart celery.

About the Author
Jody Sperling is a contributing writer for Mike the Gardener Enterprises, LLC the exclusive home for the Seeds of the Month Club.

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