Sunday, July 24, 2016


Potato plant
I finally managed to get into the garden to do some serious weeding yesterday. I started off by pulling the remaining radishes -- they're going to seed so it's time to remove them -- and then went looking for the cucumber plants. The weeds had gotten tall enough to pretty much hide the vines, but turned out they are there, growing fairly vigorously, and starting to bloom. I may actually get enough cukes to make pickles without having to resort to buying some from the fruit stand this year.

It would be nice -- last year the chipmunks wiped out most of the plants just as they started to sprout, and the year before that I think it was drought. Or maybe poor soil. We have one area in the garden where it seems like no matter what we do to it -- compost worked in, commercial fertilizer, treatments to correct the pH, you name it -- nothing wants to grow particularly well. I'm thinking seriously about marking that space off, planting clover there, and letting it stay fallow for a couple years.

I also finally got my baby rhubarb plants set out. Last summer I saved a lot of rhubarb seeds just for the heck of it. You know, almost no one grows rhubarb from seed. The usual method is to divide up an existing clump. That's how all of our rhubarb wound up where it is. We either transplanted existing rhubarb or bought live plants. But when one of the rhubarb plants bloomed last year, I decided to let it go all the way. Usually we cut the flower stalks off, the theory being that you always want the plant to put its energy into its roots and not into seeding, but last year I ignored the nascent stalks, let them flower and seeds form, and then bagged a bunch of the seeds.

Back in May, I planted about a dozen seeds in peat pots with two seeds to a pot. Of all the stuff I started from seed, the rhubarb took the longest to sprout and had the lowest germination rate: only two pots had any seedlings appear. In contrast, when I started zucchini, the rate was 6 out of 6. This helps explain why although the rhubarb plants will have a gazillion seeds, all of which look like they'd travel on the wind pretty good, a person doesn't look around and see our yard being taken over by rhubarb the way oregano and chives have overrun everything (every time we mow the lawn by the Woman Cave I find myself craving Italian food).
Oregano in bloom. Bees love it.

In any case, there was an empty space in our row of rhubarb so yesterday I planted the two little tiny baby rhubarb plants in that area. Rain was predicted so I figured it would be good to get them in the ground before it rained, not after. I put a marker by each so we won't accidentally smother them when we mulch around the other plants. Now all I have to do is hope they survive. Because we have both kinds of rhubarb in the garden -- red and green -- and both kinds flowered, I'm a little curious to see what the plants end up being. With cross pollination, either is possible.

Rhubarb seeds
The rhubarb, incidentally, is our one gardening success story. Back when the S.O. was young, the rhubarb was in the orchard, and that's where it stayed for many years. It seemed to be fading into nothingness there, though, so we tried moving it a couple times. It did a little better, but not by much. Finally, maybe 10 years or so ago, we moved it to its present location. It loves it there. We went from feeling lucky if we got enough to bake one pie to having enough of a surplus that I can give quite a bit away and still have a dozen quarts or more of frozen rhubarb stashed for use throughout the year. If the rest of the garden ever did as well as the rhubarb does, I'd be a happy camper.


  1. I haven't seen any rhubarb here but a good piece of rhubarb sure would be good.

  2. Never occurred to me to start rhubarb from seed. The rain has been very helpful this year.

  3. Rhubarb originated in this part of the world but no one grows it. All I see are wild rhubarb plants that appear inedible. I miss rhubarb.


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