Saturday, 24 January 2015

Rhubarb 2014-2015

The last garden bed I grew rhubarb in, grew two great crops.  Large luscious leaves both times.  The first time it rained hard, they sat in the water which pooled around their bed for days on end, and the leaves and stalks wilted.  They they grew back, and the second time the chickens accidentally sampled a leaf and decided they loved it.  Just like that, the rhubarb had leaves one day, and none the next.  The stalks wilted before I could harvest them.

Last year, I broke up the crowns and planted them out in a hugelkultur bed alongside the water race, fenced along the front and sides with chicken netting.  They didn't grow for ages, well into Spring.  Along the way I wondered whether my choice to lay old wood under the bed was hindering their growth, and the chickens worked out how to walk around the back and in, to scratch the bed out.  I fenced the back, and left it.  No watering, except for watering it in.

Now it's looking lush.  If it rains, the water will drain off into the water race.  One of the stalks was broken, so I picked it and offered the leaves to the chickens.  They may be stupid, but they are great at recognising things they like eating.

They've taken to drinking from the water race, rather than the water I put out for them with vinegar and minced garlic cloves in.  "Internet advice" has it that the rhubarb leaves will kill worms in their stomachs, probably randomly inspired by the fact that the leaves are poisonous to us humans.  I'd love to know for sure, as otherwise I'd probably make rhubarb leaf tea out of them, as a fertiliser.

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