Rhubarb, rhubarb everywhere

And not a drop to drink. Mainly, because I believe we’ve drunk it all and have to wait for the new harvest, which for us is just starting. We had a very small rhubarb crumble this week, sweetened partly with sweet cicely…I was surprised at how it kept its aniseed taste and while it was definitely nice enough, we felt it detracted from the taste of the “fruit” itself. So perhaps one to try again in the future but not to hurry back to.

We have two new flavours of rhubarb to look forward to this year, along with our existing plants.

Giant Grooveless Crimson

Rhubarb Giant Grooveless Crimson

Fultons Strawberry Surprise

Rhubarb Fultons Strawberry Surprise

Both are in large pots, we’re mollycoddling them a bit, as they were microplants from Thompson and Morgan last year, propagated I believe (but can no longer find the information to prove) from plants held by the RHS. Very little information seems to be available, both were awarded the AGM in 2003 subject to availability and I think T&M stocked them again this season.  The Jamie Oliver pages on the Channel 4 website describe Fulton’s Strawberry Surprise as “A vigorous grower with vivid red colouring” and it apparently came joint first in an RHS taste test along with Merton Foremost. Giant Grooveless Crimson is even more elusive.

The rhubarb microplants arrived in small pots but quickly bulked up and we think we can spare just a stalk from each this year to see if there’s any noticeable difference in taste and texture. We really like to make rhubarb wine, so it could be nice to show off our varietal vintages!

Our main crop is a small bed of Victoria seedlings, which are five or six years old now. Our garden is shallow soil over solid chalk and the rhubarb isn’t thrilled with the situation, but with lots of compost manfully handled by my beloved, straw mulches and as much water as we can spare/remember, they produce enough for us and a few bottles of a pretty, pink, fragrant wine. Rhubarb schnapps is also not to be sneezed at…

Rhubarb from seed is supposed to be very variable – the pictures of our bed below, all plants from the same batch of seed, certainly back this up.

Rhubarb bed - Victoria seedlings Rhubarb - Victoria seedling Rhubarb - another Victoria seedling

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