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From plot to pot: Rhubarb

PUBLISHED: 13:37 20 April 2011 | UPDATED: 19:13 20 February 2013

From plot to pot: Rhubarb

From plot to pot: Rhubarb

Vegetable grower Belinda Gray looks at an April favourite

Vegetable grower Belinda Gray looks at an April favourite




This faithful friend in the kitchen garden never ceases to loyally push up its tender, pink stalks in the rhubarb patch in April and with careful variety selection, is enjoyed for a lengthy six months.


Forced earlier in January with an upturned black bucket, it emerges from the dark to give the very sweetest tasting pale flesh. If space allows, cultivate a patch with a sunny, open aspect, planting year old crowns between November and March, resisting picking in the first year so strong plants are established.


Rhubarb grows in most soils as long as it isnt soggy causing crown rot, so dig in plenty of organic matter to nourish and drain the site, planting crowns one metre apart; dividing crowns every five years.


Timperley Early and Stockbridge Arrow are early varieties, good for forcing with later harvests from the sweet tasting Champagne and Fenton Special. Rhubarb is cooked in so many ways in my kitchen; I bake with it, poach it, roast it and even drink it, ensuring a rhubarb Bellini is served each year on Easter Sunday.


Slow poach its tender stalks with rose water, orange blossom, fresh ginger or a vanilla pod. Serve this poached fruit with a coconut rice pudding or panacotta custard or folded into Greek yogurt to serve in glasses with chocolate shortbread.


It is a natural partner to roast pork, duck and white fish, particularly mackerel. Making a rhubarb relish or chutney, infused with spice and raisins becomes more useful than ketchup in the fridge, a blob can elevate simple sandwiches and exotic suppers to something special.


This is the easiest of vegetables to grow, great for the novice, its rewards will be plentiful and you will never be fooled!


Belinda Gray runs a gardening school and design service near Woodbridge,
Contact her at
www.the-grower.co.uk or
Tel: 01394 384712

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