May 22, 2010

Rhubarb Flowers

I think about food a lot.

At any given moment of a day I might be thinking about food or putting energy toward food in some way... planning the garden, planting seeds, pulling weeds, fertilizing, harvesting, storing food, taking care of animals, looking up recipes and thinking about "what's for dinner tonight."

I'm not the only one with this malady.

There are others who, like me, enjoy thinking about food. We keep grocery lists. We collect cookbooks. We save recipes. We stock our pantries. We plan menus. And we look at food blogs.

You know who you are.

Plants, on the other hand, put all of their energy into making more plants.

Everything that a plant does is toward the goal of making more plants. They take in water and nutrients to grow and make more plants. They each do it differently but they all do it. Some plants make seeds or spores that grow new plants. Some plants spread root systems that put up new plants. Some divide themselves into multiple plants.

As an eater of plants, my goal may not always be the same as the plant.

Such is the case with rhubarb.

We eat the sweet tasting stems of the rhubarb, not the leaves, roots, or flowers. So we want to encourage the plant to grow a lot of long thick stems. (The leaves should not be eaten because they contain a high amount of oxalic acid.)

The plant, however, wants to grow more rhubarb plants. So it makes flowers that contain seeds to grow more rhubarb plants. But when the rhubarb plant is putting energy toward making flowers it is giving less energy toward making those juicy stems.

So, unless you want a decorative, flowering plant, when your rhubarb starts to bolt (make flowers) cut the flowers off and you will have more tasty stems to make into rhubarb pie.

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