Friday, March 30, 2012

Rhubarb--Queen of Spring!

The rhubarb (Rheum palmatum) leaves are unfurling, coming out of the magenta nubbins that started poking out of the cold wet soil a few weeks ago.  They'll need to be divided next year, to keep them from entirely taking over the area they share with the asparagus and perennial herbs.  Not necessarily the best bedfellows, but it's where they are right now and everyone seems to put up with it, so moving them around hasn't been a high priority. 

I love the way the crinkly leaves have a slight red tinge to the edges to match the color of the stems.  These plants will be almost 4' in diameter by June, with leaves as wide as those inflatable exercise balls.  Mmmmm, I can almost taste the strawberry-rhubarb jam already...

Now is the time to add an inch or so of good compost around the root zone of rhubarb.  The roots are huge and look a lot like bright orange sweet potatoes when cut.  It takes a lot of stored food to grow those gigantic leaves and a lot of green surface to manufacture enough food to support those big roots! 

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