Phoenix Rising

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My friend aptly used the term phoenix rising when she saw the photo of my rhubarb plant today versus the pile of rubbish just two months earlier. I thought it was a wonderful analogy. Back in February, the pile was honestly a huge eyesore, but instead of pulling up the dead heap of mush, I just ignored it. This will be year three with the rhubarb, but I couldn’t remember what happened last year. I also probably did not leave the whole plant to die back like I did at the end of the last season. All I know is that this pile of rot did not look like the plant had survived.

In the photo above, taken on March 9, you will notice a little poke of red. It’s actually pretty incredible, though I shouldn’t be surprised. I still have tulips coming up every year, even though I haven’t put a single bulb in the ground in years. The magic of overwintering.

I think it would be so cool to time lapse photograph the leaves unfurling from the tight little balls into the giants they become.  

I noticed that the plant is already beginning to flower while the stalks only have a hint of red near the base of the stalks. When I worked at The Pie Commission, the dessert chef would order rhubarb when it was in season, and the stalks were a beautiful pink/red colour (photo below). In the supermarkets, you see them like this too, which is why I’ve always associated “ripe” rhubarb with red. Last year, I didn’t harvest my rhubarb, because I was waiting for the stalks to turn red.

This concern led me to do a quick Google search and I’m not the only one growing rhubarb with stalks that tend to stay green. I’ve read that the older heirloom variety of “Victoria” tends to be on the green side, but it doesn’t really have a bearing on flavour. The red stalks simply look nicer when cooked down. So maybe it’s almost time for me to pull up a few stalks and make some rhubarb sauce. And maybe I could consider growing a different variety next year. I’ll keep my eyes peeled for Ever Red, or Canada Red. Maybe I’ll plant them in the common areas in my community – rhubarb for all!

For now, I’ll leave you with seven facts about rhubarb.

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