RHUBARB, RHUBARB, RHUBARB

TUESDAY 12th MAY 2020

RHUBARB, RHUBARB, RHUBARB

by John Yeo

   I was musing to myself whilst I was hard at work on the allotment today. How can an institution own a plant that was purchased by someone who had rented an allotment. I have grown and nurtured many plants on my allotment over the years, including perennial plants such as Rhubarb, Raspberry bushes, Gooseberry bushes and even my healthy Asparagus plants. These will grow on for many years to come, for example Asparagus is expected to last for 20 years.

   One of my Rhubarb plants had sadly passed away. I can’t think of a reason why this should suddenly happen, the plant just suddenly shrivelled and died. I did grow some large Globe Artichokes quite close to this plant and I have a sneaking suspicion these may have been responsible for my wonderfully healthy Rhubarb plants early demise. Globe Artichokes are greedy feeders and they may have starved the Rhubarb of essential nourishment and moisture.

 My wife is quite clever at making different types of Rhubarb crumble and several other tart, tasty Rhubarb dishes. I bought a couple of replacement plants from a local garden centre, but to my surprise, neither of them took to this position in the garden at all.

 I think it must be some anomaly within the soil. I persevered and dug in copious amounts of fertiliser without any success. One of the two plants seemed to just give up the ghost and the other just about feebly stayed alive, but no edible stalks appeared. I put this down to the fact it was probably because it was the first year of growth and perhaps I was being a bit too impatient.

  I remember ten years ago, a good friend of mine had some surplus Rhubarb plants and offered one to me, if I dug it up. I of course said, ‘Yes’. Then followed a strenuous couple of hours work as I began to tackle the job of digging up a well established Rhubarb plant. I never envisaged just how large and thick this Rhubarbs root system would be. It was like removing an Oak tree, by digging it up by the roots. Anyway perseverance made the day and I was left with this huge root. I then began the process of division, using a sharp spade to chop the root into sections. I was pleased to finish the job with six separate pieces of root that all grew into healthy plants quite quickly. Looking back, I think over the years, one of these sections had grown into the plant that had recently sadly died.

 I noticed some extremely healthy Rhubarb plants growing on a nearby allotment, where the tenants had given up and moved on.

When I enquired whether it would be possible to retrieve one of these plants as nobody was obviously working on the allotment this year. I was informed that they had become the property of the landlord. However another friend donated a rooted Rhubarb plant that hopefully will go some way to rewarding us with a crop next year.

© Written by John Yeo ~ All rights reserved.