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5/23/2014 2:09:00 PM

Tags: Rhubarb, Pie, Jam, Crisp, Lisa D. Johnson

Lisa JohnsonRhubarb used to be part of every homestead. It could be seen growing next to haysheds, chicken coops, barns, shops and right outside the door to the house. This is the old fashioned rhubarb, the kind with the huge leaves and strong green to ruby red colored stalks. The kind that makes your mouth pucker as you are cutting the leaves off!

I grew up loving rhubarb and I am so glad! There were several areas of it at Grandma and Grandpa's homestead. My favorite patch was at the back of the hayshed. It was so big that it was "scary" for a little girl to go reaching inside of it. My grandma used to make Rhubarb-Strawberry jam and pies!


As a young adult I started baking Rhubarb Crisp – it is still our favorite! When we moved into our house more than 20 years ago, the first thing I found growing was a big patch of rhubarb behind our garage. I have added even more plants since.

My mother-in-Law used to have two plants that she had tried so hard to grow. After she passed away, I babied those plants. One would get three spindly stalks that grew to be about 2 feet tall. The other plant was even smaller. It would grow one, maybe two leaves that might grow to about a foot tall. I was excited about that. I started amending the soil (thanks to the chickens) and giving the plants even more attention. Before long those plants started growing and growing! Now the leaves are gigantic and the stalks are strong and yummy!

Last year my mum gave me a start of a plant that had been one of the original ones from my grandma and grandpa's. This is its first Spring, and I am excited to see it coming up. A friend moved away and I was able to get some of the old plants from his house. This year I am bringing home a plant from another friend. It was from a dear family member of theirs. I was told that Mr. Robinson had loved his rhubarb and that every year he would pick a bunch and bring it to them so that the wife could make him pies! I planted it next to our hayshed and will label it Mr. Robinson's Rhubarb! I will also make our friends some Rhubarb Crisp.

I love that these plants go back generations and they are still growing and thriving and being enjoyed today! As the plants grow, I divide and share them with friends and family. The stories go along with the starts!

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5/25/2014 8:39:35 AM
Lisa, all plants have histories but you have preserved your plant histories. Even today in Nebraska, the old homesteads, which are usually left to deteriorate, rhubarb and asparagus patches will be found. Along with those old spring staples, many times, a neglected orchard can be found. The orchards, however, don't have the longevity or the stamina when left unattended of the rhubarb and asparagus. Old railroad tracks are a good place to forage asparagus in the spring time. I'm not sure how long rhubarb can survive but it appears for ever given the right conditions. ***** Have a great rhubarb history day.

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