Starting a Fresh – Kildare Post Gardening Column
Below is my gardening column for the Kildare Post which appeared in print on 18th March 2014. I plan to get up to date with sharing my garden columns here for those of you who can not read the newspaper!
Starting a fresh – David Corscadden
Given the week that is in it, with St Patrick’s Day just gone, I couldn’t help but think back to my childhood and the time I spent with my grandfather Patrick [or Scooby as we called him] pottering around his garden. For me he is my main inspiration when it comes to gardening and I feel one of the main people in my life who planted a love for horticulture in my mind and heart.
While I have so many memories floating around in my head of following him around outside, one that has been playing over and over again in my mind recently is of his rhubarb patch. He use to have great big patches of rhubarb, Rheum rhabarbarum, down the very end of the garden, which to me as a child were always the big reward when you walked down there.
Sadly, like my grandfather, the rhubarb can no longer be found down the end of the garden but both have left lasting impressions on the garden I now find myself growing in. The rhubarb patch once stood where I now have my vegetable patch and it has proven to be a successful spot to grow once again. And now that the bones of the vegetable patch are in place, I went about restoring the once thriving rhubarb patch by planting my own.
Rhubarb, being a vegetable, is perfectly suited to a vegetable patch but I also think that thanks to its great foliage and bushy form it looks equally as good planted within a flower border. Where ever you decide to plant rhubarb its requirements remain the same. The plant or stool should be planted into a wide hole (roughly 50-60 cm wide) with lots of compost or well-rotted manure at the bottom.
As each plant will bush out quite a lot as it grows they should be placed about 1.5 meters apart to avoid competition and to ensure good cropping. Stools are normally planted during the dormant season while pot grown plants can be planted during the growing season. Generally as rhubarb is such a good cropper two plants tend to provide more than enough for the average house.
Once planted rhubarb really requires very little work apart from ensuring the area around it is kept weed free and it is watered during periods of dry weather. The only other thing it will need, if you are to follow the advice of all the great rhubarb growers I know, is the occasional bucket of pot ash sprinkled around the plant to encourage good growth.
Note: An edited version of this article appeared in The Kildare Post on 18th March 2014.