I refuse to admit it is still winter. I am going to just pretend we are already nipping at the heels of Spring! Early spring is one of my VERY favorite times to garden, for each tiny bit of green seems like a major victory. Nondescript plants become the stars of the show when they are the only green around and vegetables we might throw to the compost heap in late fall are the delicacies that see us through the last bitter days of late winter. While asparagus reigns KING over the early spring garden, there is another plant I look forward to seeing each February or March. I call her the queen.
Queen rhubarb that is...
She is not all that impressive until you look around and notice that everything else in the garden is still looking ragged, hagard and mean. Rhubarb is throwing out her tough and bombascious greens and sticking her thumb up at the world. No really. Hop back up there to that first photo and you will see it. That little lump in the middle of the plant. That is the beginnings of a FABULOUS pie.
That "thumb" will morph into long stems with ruffly leaves on the end. You want to EAT the stems and SKIP the leaves. Those broad, light-gathering leaves will make you sick if you eat them. Stick to those lovely stalks mixed with some strawberries.
The stalks start off small, like any good thing, and they taste best when they are about the size of a large pencil. As they get thicker, the taste gets muddled. Snap off the stalks, but leave the roots and you will have rhubarb for years to come!
Note: I purchased my rhubarb roots at WalMart very cheaply and they have done fine!! Rhubarb can be split at the root to make more plants, so all in all, a VERY inexpensive plant to grow!