I will soon be having the first picking of the season! Rhubarb is very tolerant of cold weather and in fact does need the cold to trigger stem growth. It does not like temperatures over 30 degrees centigrade so it does well in the British climate! I manage to grow several plants in a very small raised bed.
Did you know Rhubarb was first recorded in China in 2700BC, for centuries it was imported for medicinal use as a purgative. Apparently in small doses the powdered root would stimulate the appetite and cure dysentery. It wasn't until 1778 in France that it was mentioned as being eaten for pleasure! Access to sugar from the West Indies soon made it a palatable dish in Britain. Then by 1860 when Mrs Beaton published her 'Book of Household Management' it was being used for pies, jam and wine in many households.
The leaves are dangerous and should not be eaten as they contain oxalic acid; however, this can be made into a safe control for aphids, particularly for roses.
Cut 1 lb rhubarb leaves, place in an old saucepan with 2pts (1.1 litres) of water and boil for half an hour, topping up as necessary.
When cool, add 1 dessertspoon of soap flakes dissolved in 1/2pt (275ml) of warm water.
Stir thoroughly and use undiluted as a spray.
I don't have roses but I have other plants that suffer from aphids so I'm going give this a try.
2007: My dilema