The Q&A Archives: Is it Rhubarb?

Question: I am a transplanted Bostonian lost in beautiful, rural Utah. I purchased seeds called Swiss Chard Rhubarb. Is this an edible rhubarb? My country friends are laughing at my ignorance. Bright, tart, wonderful red rhubarb stalks are what I am hoping for. Am I in trouble?

Answer: I'm sorry but what you've got is Swiss Chard that is a variety with beautiful red stalks that only look like rhubarb. It's a wonderful "green" vegetable that grows easily and lasts into the cool weather. It's full of all those healthy vitamins we're supposed to eat more of. It also looks beautiful in the garden.

The rhubarb that you are thinking of (which I also love--my mom still makes the best rhubarb pie) is usually sold as roots that are ready to be planted. If local nurseries don't have any, you might get a "chunk" from a gardener that you could transplant (is there a local garden club?), or Burpee's sells it through their catalog or web site. 1-800-333-5808 or

I don't think it's very nice of them to laugh at you--I bet they wouldn't get around Boston very easily on the first try! Please feel free to write with any gardening questions--we want you to succeed!

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