Spring has finally arrived in The Great Northwest, at least for now. I’ve been busy trying to crawl out of the winter doldrums and also trying to re-balance my schedule and life so that I can do everything that I need to do, and most of what I want to do as well. I managed to get two days off from work this week, and much of Day 1 was devoted to the great American pastime of yardwork.
The grass in our backyard had grown to nearly a foot in height, thanks to all the recent rainfall, and The Little Dogs were getting lost back there. Definitely time to mow. Besides that, the northern half of the lower tier of the back yard (I should draw a map) would be a prime garden spot, if it weren’t overrun with weeds. So I got out my vintage Sunbeam electric lawnmower and very long extension cord and got to work. My Dear Wife stopped me briefly so she could pick some of the multitude of dandelions that populate our yard, and I proceeded to cut. And cut. And cut. At times it felt more like shearing a giant green sheep than mowing a lawn, but soon enough I finished the top level.
Moving down to the lower section, I had made one pass with the mower when I stopped to marvel at a massive, leafy plant. Growing at the corner of the area I was planning to clear-cut, it was compelling and strangely familiar…
“THAR BE RHUBARB HERE!”
Sweet Jimmy Smith on a pickle! We had that stuff growing in the garden when I was a kid. Dad would simmer it with sugar and spoon it over ice cream. I LOVE rhubarb, and this plant is MASSIVE. And wait-what’s that over there-MORE rhubarb! I counted 4 other plants nearly as large as the first, and a dozen or so smaller plants scattered throughout the rest of that area. I even found one growing up in the main yard, which I promptly transplanted.
Time for a harvest, then. I got scissors to remove the poisonous top leaves and started thinning that monster:
There were stalks as long as my forearm and thicker than my thumb. I harvested less than half of that one big plant-maybe a third-and got two quarts’ worth of rhubarb, enough for one incredibly good cobbler. It vanished way too quickly for me to photograph; maybe next time.
This discovery has caused me to re-think my plans for the garden as well as my dessert options. I think now I’m going to convert as much of that lower area as possible into a garden area so as to take advantage of the crop that’s already there. Half of it is partially shaded, so I need to watch the spot to see how much sun it gets over the course of the day, but there’s close to 250 square feet of space down there, which is not bad at all. We may be able to pull this off yet.