The garden is a Memorial Garden, a garden of benevolence, garden of love. It is a gift to our community from the God of Love, Jesus the Christ. The first “seeds” for our garden have come from members of the congregation and a designation from the congregation’s memorial funds. These seeds have brought us to the beginning of a journey that will last for many years. Guided by the Holy Spirit we will plow forth until row upon row of our work is accomplished and our community is better nourished. The Lord invites you all to be part of His work on earth strengthening and feeding His children. The garden is made possible by generous donations from the community, a Domestic Hunger Grant from the ELCA World Hunger, generous support by the congregation of Lutheran Church of Hope, and support from the Alaska Synod of the ELCA.

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Rhubarb

Rhubarb is a great garden plant. It looks great in the vegetable garden and it looks great in the flower or "show" garden. It also acts as a weed control ally in the garden. Generally the leaves are so large and dense that nothing grows beneath them. I am considering planting rhubarb under the rose bushes at church to help control the weeds. The clover and chickweed gets really nasty under them and maybe the rhubarb would help control them. If it doesn't work we can dig it up and use it some where else on the property.

Rhubarb Split
You can buy rhubarb from nurseries in town. You will pay anywhere from $9 to $30 for a crown to transplant. There are a couple of much less expensive alternatives. Start with your neighbors, check with them to see if they have any mature rhubarb plants you could divide. This would allow you to get a plant for an excellent price and you get to know your neighbor better. That's certainly a win-win. Check with people in organizations you frequent. You know the kind, church, schools, etc. You would be surprised how many people have rhubarb and would be happy to share with you.

Splitting the plants can be done any time of the year. The spring is probably better as you can see the buds in the crown. You want to split the crown so there are a few buds in each "new" plant. You can dig up the whole root or split it in place. If you did up the whole thing be sure to put some back in the same place. It must have been a good place for the plant because it got big enough to split.

Rhubarb Seedling
If that method fails you can indeed start rhubarb from seed. I don't recall seeing seed packets in the stores in Anchorage but you can certainly purchase them from seed companies or Amazon online. In warm climates rhubarb is grown as an annual but in our zone, 4a, it is a perennial. Just start the seeds the way you would any other. When the plant gets about 4 inches tall harden it off and then transplant it to the desired location. It will take a couple of years to produce usable stalks but it will be worth the wait. If you buy crowns from the local nursery you will have to wait a year before you can harvest and doing it from seeds is a lot cheaper.

If you do get rhubarb from neighbors, buy it from a greenhouse, or start from seed,  when you transplant it in your garden but sure not to cover the crowns completely. I guess the best way to explain it is to make the new planting look pretty much like the old one. It's one of those things that you don't want too much sticking out of the ground but you don't want to bury the crown either. Rhubarb does best in full sun with plenty of water. If you must put it in a spot without full sun you should put it somewhere in the garden that will get sun for at least a few hours. It will grow in full shade as well but will  look pretty scrawny.

Thanks to generous donations from our neighbors Paula Zawadi, Phyllis Rude, and the Hobbs family, we now have rhubarb plants underneath the whole west fence line of the garden and under the rose bushes in front of the church. The garden is well fixed for rhubarb now. This should be the first harvest of 2019.

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