Learning New Things
Just last year I planted some rhubarb crowns in the Food It Yourself Garden. They handily survived the mild winter of 2015-2016. This spring I got a decent cutting of stalks. Then the flowers appeared. I had never seen a rhubarb flower before. The flower stalks got tall and went to seed. I didn’t know what to do. Thankfully the internet helped me out.
- A 2006 post on the Purdue University Home and Garden page addressed the whys of rhubarb blooms.
- SF Gate published a quick guide on how to handle a rhubarb bloom.
- The aptly named Rhubarb Central web site offers this advice.
So, I learned a few things.
Lesson 1: I should have trimmed the flower stalk a few months ago. My rhubarbs are putting lots of energy into producing rhubarb seeds and not so much energy into making tasty rhubarb stalks. Corollary to lesson 1: Those seeds, should they sprout, will probably produce less than stellar rhubarb.
Lesson 2: Next year, I need to make sure the rhubarb plants get the water they need. We had a dry spring, we are having a dry summer. We did fertilize our garden bed so the drought conditions probably led to the blooming. I’ll still top dress with a little compost in a few weeks, just in case.
Lesson 3: It is not too late. I can cut the flower stalks and keep harvesting the leaf stalks.
There is always more to learn when you grow your own food. I knew this gardening season would offer a lesson or two. I’m glad I know how to take better care of the long-term residents of my garden. Also, I now know rhubarb blooms when it is stressed. A lesson for us all, don’t you think?