Or Yaybarb Boobarb, as Tim would have me title this.
Why the "Yay"? Because Mr Rhubarb's finally up and running. Huzzah!
Here I am, celebrating in the traditional style, with a rhubarb umbrella. You can see his friends in the bed behind me, happily growing away under the watchful eye of Barry (flamingo number two).
We've had 5 big stems of rhubarb so far this spring, and it's still going strong. 'tis a miracle. But there is, as ever in life, a terrible downside...
The "Boo" of course. And what a terrible "Boo" it is. Because Mr Rhubarb had a brother. A baby brother.
While Mr Rhubarb celebrates his third birthday this spring, his little sibling never even made it through the winter. I know. It's like a Leonard Cohen song. May Tiny Rhubarb rest in peace.
Because here's the thing about rhubarb - they're endlessly resilient, as long as they make it through the first two years. They like to be kept watered, enjoy a feed with well rotted manure in the autumn, and prefer that their flowers are removed in spring. But here's the important bit... strictly speaking, you shouldn't pick a single stem in the first two years. Even when they're right there in front of you, looking all pink and delicious.
Advice I followed to the letter. But it still sodding died. There was no disease. No terrible mistake on my part. Tiny Rhubarb simply didn't grow back after the winter. Damn Nature. You never quite know what it's going to throw at you next.
Thank goodness his brother's doing so well.
I can now harvest my rhubarb from May all the way through to August. Stems should be at least 10cm long (though I aim for 30cm or taller), then simply hold tight at the base, and pull/twist at a gentle angle in one move. Ta da. Rhubarb harvested.
Important note: never remove all of your rhubarb's leaves at once, or he'll die a sudden and terrible death. In fact, I wouldn't advise removing more than half the plant in one go. Those leaves are the only power source for growing more fruit. I say, give it a fighting chance.
Second important note: don't be the jam fool who eats the rhubarb leaf. Stems yummy, leaves highly poisonous. Put them in the compost where they can't cause trouble.
And that's it really. Planted in spring or autumn, depending on your variety (check the label tucked into its pot), rhubarb likes sun, but will tolerate shade - as I can attest. I've completely run out of space in the sunny raised bed, so Mr Rhubarb has had to make do with a shady spot. Once established, it's a wonderfully low maintenance plant that keeps on giving.
Nice one, Mr Rhubarb.