Seen at The Festival of the Tree

...if you would be happy all your life, plant a garden - Chinese proverb

Friday, 15 April 2011

GBBD: Rhubarb and Custard

I thought it was time to turn away from the garden and show you what's happening on the allotment flower-wise. Here is my rhubarb plant (variety = Victoria), complete with flowers whose colours remind me of rhubarb and custard. We've had several delicious bowls of the stuff lately, so the comparison's foremost in my mind ;)

Just after I took this photo, I cut the flower stems off at the base. Rhubarb flowers are said to weaken the plant, so I don't want to put mine at risk. However, apparently the seeds can be ground into a flour which makes very good pancakes if you don't mind sacrificing a plant or two.

I'm not sure if flowering rhubarb means it's mature and happy or stressed. This is the third year mine has flowered and there's been plenty of discussion on the internet in previous years on why this might be. Overfeeding with nitrogen (forgot to manure mine last winter); a damp summer (last summer was dry, though the two previous ones were very damp); the plant needs dividing (it's over 5 years old so this could be true); the result of a decent cold period (which rhubarb needs to do well and we've certainly had the last three winters) have all been given as possible reasons.

No matter what the reason may be, I've found that cutting the flowers ASAP does the plant no harm and it continues to crop well. So there's lots more bowls of rhubarb and custard to come :)

Garden Bloggers' Blooms Day is hosted by Carol at May Dreams Gardens.

18 comments:

  1. Hello VP, I haven't grown rhubarb (yet) and so I'm very envious of your 5 year old plant. There is a lot of advice on the internet, isn't there? I recently read that rhubarb will try to flower and set seed as a defence mechanism after a particularly cold winter tries to bump it off. Next year, I may find out for myself! Caro xx

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  2. My rhubarb has flowered for the last 3 years too. I split and transplanted mine last year and then they had 2 ft of snow on them for ages, so I reckon they're worried!
    I've cut the flowers off mine too ...and had loads of rhubarb crumble :)

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  3. Have never planted rhubarb, but have definelty eaten the pie! a rather unique flower head.

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  4. Rhubarb and custard? Sounds delicious! Care to share your recipe-?

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  5. Hello VP, some of the rhubarb clumps up at our allotment site are positively statuesque with flower spikes! I am cutting mine off as they appear, but opinion up there is divided as to whether this is necessary - and about whether this much flowering is unusual! No harvest yet, but there again it is a freshly moved plant, so I guess I need to be patient.

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  6. My rhubarb seemed to come up ahead of many others but is now far behind. The stems are short with a touch of pink at the base - nowhere near ready to eat. There's a lot of slug damage (at least we've got rain at last - though not a lot) . . . but no flowers.

    Esther

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  7. I haven't had rhubarb in dozens of years~Must remedy that as soon as I see it in the produce stores. You notice, I didn't say grow it! There isn't enough sunnny space for it. xxoogail PS July seems too far away:)

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  8. Thank you so much for the info about rhubarb. It doesn't do so well in my state because of the heat, but I planted some in a bit of shade to try once again. Happy Bloom Day!~~Dee

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  9. I'm embarrassed to admit this... my property had a lovely, mature rhubarb patch when we purchased it. But since I don't know what in the world to do with that stuff (other than to talk someone else into baking a pie) I sacrificed it for a daisy garden. Bad, Kate. Bad, bad Kate...

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  10. I have (had?) three rhubarb plants in our coastal garden that are now two years old. They grew beautifully until this year when the snails discovered them. I read to not harvest the stalks until they are three years old. I hope mine survive that long! My husband loves rhubarb and strawberry pie. Rhubarb and custard sounds delicious!

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  11. Caro - that's just one of the explanations! Do plant some rhubarb, it's delicious :)

    NG - we don't have the patience for rhubarb crumble, so rhubarb and custard it is!

    Greggo - welcome! Rheum (same family) is similar - mine's not unfurled yet, so you can't see the resemblance yet

    Kelli - hello! It's very simple. Pick very young sticks, so it's not stringy. Clean the sticks and trim the ends. Chop up the rhubarb into bite size chunks, put in a saucepan with a tiny bit of water and sugar to taste. Bring slowly to the boil and simmer for 5-10 minutes until tender. Make custard (we cheat and use Birds custard powder rather than make the real thing). Put equal amounts of rhubarb and custard in a bowl and enjoy :)

    Janet - must have a look to see what the others up at the plot are doing. I seem to remember some magnificent flowers up there last year

    Esther - I'm sure you'll have some rhubarb soon :)

    Gail - July is definitely too far away :( xxx

    Dee - I hope it does well for you in the shade. It does need winter cold to do well though...

    Kate - hello! You could have both? ;)

    Dorothy - welcome! It is delicious. Here we usually start eating from year 2 onwards so you can start a bit earlier methinks :)

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  12. VP, rhubarb is really pretty. I am going to have to take a closer look at vegetables this year and not just for the insects.

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  13. This was very informative and interesting. I've become your new follower to learn more.

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  14. I don't know anything about rhubarb except that it's poisonous if not prepared properly, makes a great pie with strawberrys, and has cool flowers. (I'm such an ornamentalist.)

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  15. We just bought a rhubarb and I was gutted to learn I couldn't cop it for at least a year, preferably two.

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  16. I've been picking and enjoying eating mine for the past week or two!
    There's been lots of recent posts on blogs and forums about it flowering, which thankfully mine shows no sign of doing!
    Flighty xx

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  17. Loved last 2 posts espec Dear Maud and the thought of u tucking into rhubarb and custard!
    Best
    R

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  18. gardenwalgardentalk - I have fab apple blossom on the plot at the moment and the strawberries are coming into flower :)

    Southwest Cottage Designs - welcome and thanks for Following :)

    MMD - the root and leaves of rhubarb are poisonous but the stems are fine. A childhood treat was a freshly plucked stem and a bag of sugar to dip it into - so I'm proof they're OK to eat!

    Mark - it depends on the variety you have. Mine was fine from year 2 onwards

    Flighty - plenty in flower on our plots too. Even more have come through on my plant since I posted this

    Robert - also rhubarb and organic Greek-style yoghurt - yum :)

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