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New Rhubarb for the Garden

May 12th, 2011

This year I decided to purchase a few new varieties of rhubarb for the garden. I did some research and settled on ‘MacDonald’. I finally found some from available Nourse Farms. ‘MacDonald’ Rhubarb is described as: an excellent producer for commercial growers and home gardeners. This very vigorous, upright growing strain produces large, tender stalks and has acceptable red color. Shows resistance to root-rot problems.

I decided to get some of the other variety they sell as well. ‘Cawood Delite’ Rhubarb is not as vigorous as MacDonald, but has deeper red color and slightly thicker stalks. Cawood Delight has a stout growth habit that will excel in northern areas. It may struggle in areas with long periods of high heat. We have had a lot of positive feedback on this variety from commercial growers and home gardeners.

I also have some heirloom ‘Victoria’ Rhubarb in my garden which I started from seed 2 years ago (source: Baker Creek). ‘Victoria’ has thick stalks are popular for making delicious pies, cobbler and preserves. This variety can be harvested starting as soon as the 2nd season. It’s more green than red and fairly tart.

Last year one of my rhubarb plants bloomed, it was quite impressive. The seeds were quite lovely as well, they were like little earrings hanging on the plant. You’re not supposed to let the plant bloom I read after it bloomed *OOPS*. Looks like we’ll be able to enjoy our fill of rhubarb in a few years! I’m really looking forward to tasting the different varieties side by side!

Are you able to grow rhubarb in your garden? What’s your favorite way to eat it?

21 Comments to “New Rhubarb for the Garden”
  1. Kathi on May 12, 2011 at 6:44 am

    Yes. It does well by me.(CT) I have 2 plants in my stawberry bed. Not sure what variety it is though. My daughters’ favorite pie is strawberry-rhubarb, so I originally planted that bed just for pies.It took about 3 or 4 years before it was large enough to harvest.Once it takes I think it lasts forever. It may do better if I plant it alone, but I love having it in my strawberry bed. As a child we would eat it raw dipped in sugar.I made a very small batch of rhubabrb jam last weekend.

    Reply to Kathi's comment

  2. Fawn on May 12, 2011 at 7:46 am

    Beautiful picture! In the area I live in S. Louisiana rhubarb isn’t a commonplace veggie found in homes. I recently purchased some (just a few stalks were around $5-$6-pricey!) to try it out because my understanding is that its easy to grow here. I’ll have to experiment with recipes though to find a way I like it before I grow it.

    Is there a certain traditional meal or way of preparing rhubarb that you recommend to a newcomer to the veggie?

    Reply to Fawn's comment

    • Kathi on May 12, 2011 at 4:17 pm

      It’s also referred to as “pie plant” and is usually prepared like a fruit in cooked desserts ie. pies, crumbles etc.

      Reply to Kathi's comment

  3. Daedre Craig on May 12, 2011 at 7:57 am

    I’m growing rhubarb for the first time this year. The variety is ‘Victoria’. I’m hoping to make some delicious pies and jams.

    Reply to Daedre Craig's comment

  4. Kat on May 12, 2011 at 8:15 am

    I just bought a couple small plants of Victoria, and am raising them in pots, as I think we’ll be moving in a year or two. I love rhubarb and can’t wait to have our own house, so I can put in a couple different varieties. I’m actually going to volunteer at a local farm, and am asking to harvest some of their rhubarb in exchange for work!

    Reply to Kat's comment

  5. Andreae on May 12, 2011 at 8:59 am

    Rhubarb is by far the most common backyard edible around here – people who grow nothing else will still grow and eat rhubarb. Some of the patches in my neighbourhood are probably generations old! It’s our equivalent of the overgrowing zucchini – people without their own rhubarb patches often come home to heaps of stalks left on the front step or heaved over the back fence by neighbours. I’ve just discovered two small rhubarb crowns in an overgrown section of my yard. I’m taking out the bush that they’ve been hiding under, and I hope they do a little better. I don’t think anyone around here knows what the variety of their rhubarb is, it’s just rhubarb.

    We eat loads of strawberry-rhubarb crisp, rhubarb-ginger jam, rhubarb-vanilla sauce, rhubarb muffins, rhubarb cake… pineapple-rhubarb conserve with walnuts… peach-rhubarb chutney… fizzy rhubarb drink… you name it, we’ll eat it. I keep tubs of it chopped in the freezer to bake with any time I need a taste of spring.

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  6. risa b on May 12, 2011 at 9:33 am

    We have “tons” of the stuff. It seems to freeze well, so we have pie-plant crisps all year round. Stated with one plant and dig up and divide one every other year. We joke that it is spreading like bamboo!

    Reply to risa b's comment

  7. Amy on May 12, 2011 at 10:56 am

    We have two rhubarb plants that were here when we moved in 2008. One is a huge, vigorous red-stalked variety, and the other, I think, is ‘Victoria’. There’s way too much for my hubby and I to eat alone. This year I’d like to try making cement casts of the biggest leaves to have around the garden and give as gifts. When I do cook with rhubarb, I like it best in cobblers and crisps (or muffins, or bread). I would like to find a use for it in an entree or two for variety.

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  8. Jennifer on May 12, 2011 at 11:10 am

    I love rhubarb in crisps but last weekend I made a “saucy-jam” – a rather thick sauce but not fully set like jam. It’s been delicious mixed in yogurt!

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  9. Jennifer Fisk on May 12, 2011 at 12:59 pm

    I have a big patch of Rhubarb. In the fall, I cover it with manure and straw. It pops up at about the same time the Garlic does. I have no idea what variety it is as it came from my Grandmother to my parents in 1946 and to me in 1996. I like pies and crisps the best.

    Reply to Jennifer Fisk's comment

  10. MAYBELLINE on May 12, 2011 at 1:43 pm

    I don’t believe rhubarb does well in zone 9 but I coult be wrong.
    I love rhubarb/apricot pie.

    Reply to MAYBELLINE's comment

  11. Margaret on May 12, 2011 at 4:54 pm

    Hi S,
    Why are you not supposed to let it flower? Does the flowering alter the flavor of the plant? If you let it flower will you have to rip it out?

    Reply to Margaret's comment

    • Susy on May 12, 2011 at 6:09 pm

      It’s supposed to weaken the plant too much. It must be true because the one plant that went to seed last year didn’t come back this year.

      Reply to Susy's comment

      • Debbie on May 24, 2011 at 5:06 pm

        Our neighbours around us all have rhubarb and it is in full bloom as we speak, and comes back every year. My rhubarb plant was in a place that got too much moisture and it rotted. Blech. I’ve since found two wild rhubarb plants so that made me really happy. :)

        to Debbie's comment

      • Karla on August 8, 2011 at 1:22 pm

        I read that as long as you cut off the flowers everything will be fine, and that flowering is a good sign that a new plant is established. I guess I’ll find out next spring if that’s true. I’m growing Victoria that I planted last summer. One of the three survived last summer, and I chose to wait to harvest any from it. I hope to start harvesting next year.

        to Karla's comment

  12. jules on May 12, 2011 at 5:29 pm

    I’m so sad. I’m too far South to grow, or even get, rhubarb. I LOVE me some rhubarb cream pie!

    Reply to jules's comment

  13. goatpod2 on May 12, 2011 at 5:49 pm

    We grow rhubarb in our garden, my Mom makes a good rhubarb stew or we like rhubarb crisp.


    Reply to goatpod2's comment

  14. KimH on May 12, 2011 at 6:44 pm

    I have one thick knot of rhubarb.. I planted 2 for my honey since Im not a lover of it, and somehow I’ve killed one of the plants.. Actually I have always let them go to seed.. one lived, one didnt.. I planted them at least 6 years ago.

    My plants were short & and somewhat stubby and looking nothing like rhubarb found in the grocery store, so I was online looking for answers and found Rhubarb Forcing Pots.. (which I cant find around here) so I devised one of my own, sorta, and the stalks did lengthen some, giving me a little longer stalks.

    I too just recently read to not let them go to seed.. so picked the seed-heads off the same day I picked the stalks. Finally, success!

    My honey just likes rhubarb pie with rhubarb.. just a little sugar, a little lemon juice, butter, and thats it! He doesnt like it too sweet either.. picky picky! ;)

    Reply to KimH's comment

  15. marcyincny on May 12, 2011 at 8:41 pm

    Susy, did you know that rhubarb is loaded with at least 40 different anti-oxidants and that the benefits actually increase when the rhubarb is baked or stewed slowly for 30 minutes on low heat? I bought my plants years ago at the farmers market and I think they’re most probably Victoria but whatever they are, they’re huge and the larger stalks are the biggest I’ve ever seen.

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  16. KimP on May 12, 2011 at 10:06 pm

    I got my start from a friend who has HUGE stalks. Mine do too, now. So we always have WAY MORE than we can possibly use. I love having it around, though. :) It sure is an easy crisp.

    Reply to KimP's comment

  17. mich on May 13, 2011 at 12:19 pm

    My favorite way of eating rhubarb is in a fool….yum homemade custard and whipped cream with rhubarb compote stirred in.

    Reply to mich's comment


This is a daily journal of my efforts to cultivate a more simple life, through local eating, gardening and so many other things. We used to live in a small suburban neighborhood Ohio but moved to 153 acres in Liberty, Maine in 2012.

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