How To Grow Rhubarb
November 22, 2023
Rhubarb is a fruit-like vegetable that is enjoyed cooked and fresh. It is a member of the buckwheat family, and dates back to the 1700s in Europe. Rhubarb has a distinctive tart flavor that is most commonly used in desserts such as pies and jams. The stalk is the edible part of the plant, while the leaves are poisonous and not safe to eat.
Follow us to keep learning!
Cheatsheet: How To Grow Rhubarb
🌱 Choose a sunny spot with well-drained soil.
🌱 Plant rhubarb crowns in early spring or fall.
🌱 Dig a hole deep enough to accommodate the crown.
🌱 Space multiple plants 3-4 feet apart.
💧 Water deeply once a week, especially in dry spells.
⚡️ Avoid overwatering to prevent root rot.
🌿 Apply mulch to retain moisture and suppress weeds.
🍃 Protect from extreme cold with straw or burlap.
📅 Wait until the second year to harvest stalks.
🌱 Twist or cut stalks at the base when thick and firm.
🌱 Leave a few stalks to nourish the plant.
🌱 Harvest before summer for best flavor.
💪 Rhubarb stalks are high in fiber and low in calories.
💡 Rhubarb leaves are poisonous, so don't consume them.
🌍 Rhubarb is a great self-sufficiency crop, lasting 10+ years.
🍽️ Enjoy rhubarb in pies, sauces, and delicious desserts!
So you want to grow rhubarb, huh? Well, you're in for a treat! Rhubarb is not only a tasty addition to any garden, but it's also a hardy and low-maintenance plant. I've been growing rhubarb for years, and I can tell you it's a real joy to have in your backyard. But before we dive into the nitty-gritty of growing rhubarb, let's talk a bit about why you should consider adding this tart and tangy vegetable to your garden.
Why Grow Rhubarb?
Rhubarb is a superstar in the garden for several reasons. First and foremost, it's a perennial plant, meaning once you get it established, it will keep coming back year after year. This makes it a wonderful investment of your time and effort. Plus, rhubarb is incredibly versatile in the kitchen. You can use it in pies, jams, sauces, and even savory dishes to add a unique flavor punch. And let's not forget that beautiful pink stalks (yes, rhubarb is technically a vegetable, not a fruit) that will make your garden look absolutely stunning.
Choosing the Right Variety
Did you know that there are different varieties of rhubarb? Yup, there's more to this plant than meets the eye. When selecting a variety, you'll want to consider the climate in your area and the space you have available. Some popular varieties include 'Victoria', 'Crimson Cherry', and 'Canada Red'. These varieties are known for their excellent flavor and vigorous growth. You can often find rhubarb plants at local nurseries or order them online.
Location, Location, Location
Now that you have your rhubarb plants, it's time to find them a cozy spot in your garden. Rhubarb prefers a sunny location with well-drained soil. It's important to note that rhubarb is a heavy feeder, so you'll want to prepare the soil before planting. Add plenty of well-rotted manure or compost to give your plants the nutrients they need to thrive. And remember, rhubarb plants can get quite large, so make sure to give them enough space to spread out. You don't want them competing with other plants for resources.
Planting and Caring for Rhubarb
Planting: When it comes to planting rhubarb, timing is everything. Ideally, you should plant rhubarb in early spring, as soon as the soil can be worked. Choose a cloudy day to prevent the young plants from drying out. Dig a hole deep and wide enough to accommodate the roots, then place the plant at the same depth it was growing in the nursery pot. Backfill the hole with soil and give the plant a good drink of water.
Caring: Rhubarb is a relatively low-maintenance plant, but that doesn't mean it doesn't require some TLC. Keep the soil around your plants consistently moist but not waterlogged. Mulching around the plants can help retain moisture and deter weeds. Rhubarb plants can suffer from nutrient deficiencies, so it's a good idea to fertilize them once or twice a year with a well-balanced organic fertilizer. Additionally, removing flower stalks as they appear can help redirect the plant's energy towards producing delicious stalks for you to enjoy.
Harvesting and Storage
It's time to reap the rewards of your hard work! Rhubarb can usually be harvested starting in the second year after planting. To harvest, simply grasp the stalk near the base and give it a gentle twist. It should come off easily. Avoid ripping the stalks off, as this can damage the plant. It's best to harvest rhubarb when the stalks are about 10-15 inches long and have a good color. Don't forget to leave at least a third of the stalks in the plant, so it can continue to produce more. If you have more rhubarb than you can use, it can be frozen or preserved for later enjoyment.
Rhubarb is not only a versatile and delicious addition to your garden, but it's also a plant that will keep giving for years to come. With the right variety, proper care, and a little patience, you'll have an abundant harvest of rhubarb stalks to enjoy. So don't hesitate, get out there and start growing rhubarb in your garden today!
Frequently Asked Questions
1. When should I plant rhubarb?
You should plant rhubarb in early spring or fall.
2. Where should I plant rhubarb?
Rhubarb thrives in well-drained soil and full sun.
3. How do I prepare the soil?
Loosen the soil and amend with compost or well-rotted manure.
4. How often should I water rhubarb?
Water deeply and consistently to keep the soil evenly moist.
5. Do I need to fertilize rhubarb?
Fertilize rhubarb annually in early spring with a balanced fertilizer.
6. When can I harvest rhubarb?
You can start harvesting rhubarb stalks when they reach about 10-12 inches in length.
7. How do I harvest rhubarb?
Simply pull or cut the stalk at the base, avoiding damage to the crown.
Rhubarb is an excellent perennial crop to grow in your garden or allotment. It is very hardy and easy to care for, can tolerate cold climates, and is a reliable and productive crop. Rhubarb has numerous culinary uses, both for sweet and savoury dishes, and is packed full of nutrients and vitamins that can benefit your health. It's an intriguing and delicious addition to your garden and sure to impress family and friends.