Saturday, April 5, 2014

Costs 2014

Breakdown of this year's expenses for the garden:

Johnny's seeds (seeds, onion plants): $56.40

Territorial Seeds (rhubarb plants): $28.50

2 bales of straw: $20.00

Plants from local nursery:  $24.00
Note: cherry tomatoes were the variety "Sugary"

Total: $128.90

Expenses yet to be incurred:

Composted manure:

(updated May 25, 2014)

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Crimson Red Rhubarb

I've had the worst time growing rhubarb. I have two different varieties: one plant that I think is Victoria, and two plants that are Chipman's Canada Red.

The Victoria produces nothing but seed stalks and a very few really puny edible stalks. The Chipman's Canada Red was only planted a couple years ago, and so far, it's been pretty puny, but at least it survived some challenging growing seasons.

Last fall, I did some research to see what other varieties were out there. There's a repository in Palmer, Alaska that has well over a hundred varieties, but less than a dozen are available commercially, and really the number is probably about half that, in terms of varieties that are reasonably available. Locally, all I can get is Victoria, which as noted, hasn't done well for me.

A few suppliers offer Crimson Red, including Territorial Seed, where I've bought other products, and had a good experience. I ordered two plants, and was a little miffed, because the shipping was supposed to be mid-to-late-March, and I received them a little bit before March 15th, which would be fair, except that the whole country has had an extremely tough winter, so I would have thought they'd wait a little bit, closer to the end of March. At the time I received the plants (which were supposed to be planted ASAP), the garden was covered with six inches of snow, and the ground was frozen solid.

It wasn't until March 29th that I could dig more than an inch below the surface, and plant the rhubarb. Given all my bad luck with rhubarb plants, I worried the whole time that the plants would die before the ground thawed. But finally, I could dig holes (three, as it turned out, since one of the plants had a chunk of root that had separated from the rest, and seemed to be viable), just in time for some rain in the forecast, so they'd get well watered in. Of course, the rain turned out to be torrential, so then I fretted that my new plants would drown (since rhubarb doesn't do well without good drainage).

At least so far, all is well. A couple of the leaves that had sprouted and were most advanced at the time of planting did die, probably from dehydration during the two weeks of sitting on the kitchen counter until I could plant them. But the rest of the emerging stalks look promising.

ETA: As of May 10th, only the plant above survived, of the three Crimson Red roots I started with.