How to Grow Rhubarb
Rhubarb is a slightly odd vegetable that most people treat as a fruit. Technically it’s a vegetable, rhubarb is low in calories and high in nutrients like vitamin K and potassium; which most of us don’t get enough of. Rhubarb is great in desserts from tarts, crumbles, puddings, jam and pie – rhubarb is a cooks delight. Rhubarb is wonderful in so many recipes plus with it’s vivid pink stems it’s a fabulous landscape plant and a stately feature in any veggie patch.
Rhubarb is a cool season herbaceous perennial; the best stem colour is produced at 10°C. A leafy plant, reaching a meter in height, with thick red stalks. It requires a cold winter and can be hard to grow in areas with very hot summers or high humidity, but on the whole rhubarb is easily grown.
Don’t try to grow rhubarb unless you can give the soil an overdose of old stable manure or compost. Good rhubarb comes only from an abundance of plant food; and you’ll be wasting your time if you can’t supply it. But, with plenty of manure, compost and plenty of water, you can grow bumper crops. A heavy manure dressing each winter will work wonders.
You can buy established crowns at almost any time, but in cold-climate gardens, winter planting gives best results. Plant them two feet apart in rows two to three feet apart.
Place a tub or an old pail over the crowns in February, and cover with dead leaves or old sacking and remove in Spring.
Do not gather Rhubarb after the end of June, for the plants require the large leaves to make roots for the next year’s growth.
Rhubarb must have plenty of sun; and complete fertiliser to each plant in preparing the soil, will pay dividends.
Dividing rhubarb root. To increase the stock, take up the roots in October and divide with a spade, leaving three crowns on each root. Rhubarb can be left in the ground and will return a crop for many years, at least 10 to 15 years.
As a rule, there are no serious diseases or pests.
- Rhubarb leaves are not edible, they contain high percent of oxalic acid which is toxic for humans and animals
- Rhubarb produces small flowers arranged in large clusters for pollination by wind and can self pollinate
- The Colour of the stalk determines the taste – the sweeter stalks are more intensely red colored
- You can buy rhubarb ‘forcers’ to intensify rhubarb taste and colour