It’s a dirty job, but I guess someone’s got to do it. Sigh…. I’m the keeper of the rhubarb.
Seriously. My rhubarb is a family heirloom!
Ever since I was a kid, I remember rhubarb growing at our house in Cloverdale.
I used to get a stalk of rhubarb, fill a cup with white sugar, and then walk around dipping the rhubarb into the sugar and nibbling on it.
Yup. Somehow that doesn’t sound all that appealing as an adult.
I don’t like rhubarb all that much, but when the rhubarb is growing well I feel obligated to chop it and make something with it, usually a rhubarb crisp. Eat it warm with ice cream. That’s about as ambitious as I get. Usually most of the rhubarb just rots away before I get around to eating it.
The rhubarb has moved around a lot. From the house on 182 Street, it went to a townhouse in Cloverdale called Dogwood Gardens, and then to a house in nearby White Rock for 10 years. In 2000, with my mother now living in an extended care facility, my father decided to sell the house and buy a condo. The rhubarb was uprooted and transplanted to my townhouse in Cloverdale. Ironically, I’d bought a unit in Dogwood Gardens a few years earlier. The rhubarb was coming home!
I sold the townhouse in 2004 and we leased a farm for the next three years in Pitt Meadows.
The rhubarb never did very well here. I guess it was Cloverdale rhubarb.
I bought a house back in Cloverdale again in 2007 and the rhubarb came with me. It did pretty well in the backyard. I planted in an area that looked like might have been a kid’s sandbox at one time. A previous owner had rhubarb too and I moved it into the sandbox where they coexisted for a few years.
After going through divorce and selling the house, I was looking for a place to live, and I took the rhubarb to the farm where I kept my horses. I was hoping the owners would let me plant it in their well tended garden, but no offer. They said just find a place around the barn for it, and that’ll be fine.
I stuck it in the ground near the barn, on the other side of the fence from the pasture the horses are kept in. That was just another unused pasture area, not fenced in. The rhubarb never did well there even though it was in full sun and I faithfully watered it.
A man moved his trailer to the area behind the barn on that side of the fence and cut down the grass. Realizing too late there was a little rhubarb patch there. He was very apologetic and from then on, was careful about avoiding that area when he had the mower out. It takes a lot to kill rhubarb because it’s a ground root plant.
Check out my recipe for the Best Rhubarb Muffins!
This year I finally asked myself: why am I keeping the rhubarb out at the farm. It’s a pain hauling water out to it and it just doesn’t grow well there, I’m not getting enough to bake a crisp out of it. I asked my landlord if he had a planter he wasn’t using because I wanted to transplant my rhubarb here. He had just the thing! And even filled it with well-tilled soil for me.
I dug out the rhubarb as best I could and brought it home, and it’s been doing quite well. It got a late start due to not growing well at the farm, but it seems to like the cramped planter it’s in.
Rhubarb usually goes into shock after being transplanted, so even though it’s not up to the standards of it’s formal glory in the above sandbox photo, I hope it’ll prosper again.
Rhubarb will keep growing in an area once the root bulb has taken hold, so I kept an eye on the patch at the farm and as more little rhubarb stalks sprouted, I dug them out. I found some more planters and put the little rhubarb in there.
So now I have this weird little rhubarb patch. Uh, those things that don’t look like rhubarb in the closest planter. That would be mint and chives. Call me Farmer Cheryl!
I am the reluctant keeper of the rhubarb.