Monday, April 5, 2010

Rhubarb and ... tomatoes?

Up came the rhubarb this weekend. Already I feel oppressed by the looming harvest, and I am down to just one plant this year. I always make a pie or cobbler, maybe a fancy cocktail like a Rhubarb Collins, and then I scratch my head. There are plenty of quick bread and muffin recipes out there, but my family doesn't eat a lot of sweet baked goods. Orangette recently posted a roasted rhubarb recipe, so I may give that a whirl, though it looks fairly similar to several stewed rhubarb recipes I have made in years past. Unfortunately, these recipes were lauded mostly for the amount of whipped cream or creme fraiche I piled on top of the unsightly rhubarb melange. I could can the rhubarb, but we are still trying to eat down the other sweet preserves I put up in the fall....pickles go much more quickly at our house. This pickle idea got me thinking and with a quick google, I have found my recipe for 2010: rhubarb pickles. I will report back if they are worthy for the recipe file.

So why do I grow rhubarb? Mainly because of the season: aside from asparagus and radishes, this is a reliable early harvest in my zone. I like the color, and the plant does well in a forgotten part-sun location behind the grape arbor. It also chafes me to see rhubarb for sale at local supermarkets for ridiculous sums....$5.99 a pound? Are you kidding? This plant requires little besides letting it alone, and not harvesting too many stalks all at once. In the end, I always end up foisting off the extra rhubarb on the poor souls who have expressed modest interest in my gardening endeavors. The unsolicited stalks are just a foretaste of the zucchini feast to come, my dearies.

Speaking of summer harvests, my early tomato trial has begun! I put out three seedlings this weekend, one under a wall-o-water, one inside a DIY ring of 2L pop bottles, and one out in the elements. This is a flawed study, as a majority of my tomato seedlings suffered irreparable damage while I was off gallivanting in Paris. Ideally, the plants in my experiment would all be of the same variety, but currently I only have two sweet 100's and one early girl to play with. I left the early girl out in the elements, to see if she lives up to her name. I have another round of tomatoes started in my greenhouse, just in case none of these experimental plants works out. With opalkas and sungolds added to the mix, we will, as per usual, have too many tomatoes (see above discussion on foisting off harvests).

Finally, I noticed yesterday that my wintersown tomato seed is up! Pretty early, likely secondary to to the freakish warm weather we've been having. Is this a sign that my experiment is going to do well? They are peiping chieh tomatoes sent by the wintersown lady, Trudi. I have been web searching for taste descriptions of this seed, as I had never heard of it until Trudi sent a package to me this winter. I found several references attesting that it is a good cropper (sigh) and an ominous post from Trudi herself on gardenweb about how they taste delicious with mayonnaise. What doesn't taste delicious with mayonnaise? If this is all that can be said about the taste of this variety, should I be worried?


  1. Rhubarb was one of the first plants I grew as a child. I don't grow it now, but I buy it to make my favorite strawberry rhubarb pie.

    I am going to grow a cross tomato this year called "Brandy Boy." I wasn't too impressed with Brandywine some years ago, so we'll see.


  2. I've been glared at by heirloom tomato fanatics for saying this, but I've grown brandywine twice and both times had mushy, mealy fruit. It doesn't bear too heavily, which doesn't bother me, but the texture overwhelmed the flavor. I'm convinced the only reason folks around here grow it is because of the appealing name. Maybe it does better elsewhere, with a different set of conditions!

  3. My wintersown tomatoes came up this week, too. Yay!

    I've never grown rhubarb before... mostly because the only thing I've ever used it for is rhubarb and strawberry pie, which is so sweet we wouldn't want it more than once a season. But it does look pretty in the vegetable garden. :)

  4. I've had good luck with brandywine in previous gardens but not here. Last year I thought they were so mealy because of the cool temps and long time to ripen, or maybe because my garden doesn't get quite 6 hrs of sun. No brandywine this year for me.

    My mom has a bunch of rubarb growing in her garden. This year I might get up to her place early enough to cop a division. I love the stuff.

  5. I'm fallin in love with Rhubarb!! It's all i've been thinking about . I recently found out that my girlfriends dad had Rhubarb plants growing in his yard but considered it a Weed! and got rid of them...nearly broke my heart! i'm interested to hear about you pickling them.