Rhubarb and other Stuff

Tassie RhubarbWe inherited a veggie patch and a lot of weeds when we moved into our rented home near Hobart. A few straggly tomato plants remain, a tentative strand of what looks like raspberry vine, a healthy and multiplying patch of silver beet and a generous clump of rhubarb – a stalwart favourite in the urban gardens of my English childhood.

As kids, we used to break off stalks of it then dip the ends in a bag of sugar to sweeten before eating raw. Back then there was the perennial joke about rhubarb:-

“Here’s some horse manure for your rhubarb.”
“Oh, I prefer to put custard on mine”

I like the idea of having a veggie garden – just like Pete’s Patch in the Gardening Australia TV program – and I went there the other day for inspiration. It’s in a corner of the Tasmanian Botanic Gardens in Hobart and has recently been upgraded and replanted and everything seems to be growing vigorously – from the easily identifiable lettuce and tomatoes to plants I have never seen before.

Tassie SilverbeetNot sure where to begin but they do offer opportunities for volunteers at the gardens and there are a number of community gardens around which will teach the basics. But winter is coming on and we hope to find our “forever” home soon so maybe I’ll wait before creating my own patch and meanwhile just enjoy the healthy (but not exactly tasty) silver beet and some stewed rhubarb – with custard!Triabunna Community Garden

I also used the red rhubarb skin in a little experiment in my visual art diary and discovered that after steeping in water overnight and splashing the “juice” onto paper, it doesn’t make the anticipated pink stain but rather a mushroom-grey colour – lovely but unexpected.

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