Rhubarb is easy to grow and incredibly beautiful to look at, an elegant statuesque plant providing masses of delicious stalks year after year.
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Important to know
Rhubarb is an ancient plant and was originally used as a medicine/healing ointment. Native to China, Rhubarb was grown and traded for medicinal purposes as far back as the 16th century. It was used for curing stomach problems, as a tonic for severe constipation, and as a poultice for relieving fevers and swelling.
*Rhubarb only gained popularity as a food source at the beginning of the 19th century.
How to Grow Rhubarb
The easiest way is to plant Rhubarb crowns. They can be bought online or from garden centres.
What are Rhubarb Crowns?
Crowns are simply offsets cut from parent plants. Rhubarb crowns are established plants that are at least one year old.
When To Plant Rhubarb Crowns
Plant Rhubarb Crowns in Autumn or Spring, spread out the roots and make sure the tip of the crown is just visible above soil level.
Where should you plant Rhubarb Crowns ?
Choose a full sun or partially shaded site and give them the best start by digging in some well aged manure. Back fill the hole with some good quality compost.
Caring for Rhubarb
Rhubarb requires very little attention or fussing. Suppress weeds by mulching around their base every Autumn and maybe give them a liquid feed every spring for a little boost. Rhubarb has pretty good staying power too, producing fruit for around ten years.
How to Harvest Rhubarb
For strong growth, don’t harvest Rhubarb the first year, take only a few stalks the second year, third years the charm – Harvest as required from Spring onwards.
Pull and Twist
Never cut Rhubarb stalks. To harvest, pull and twist the stems off the plant, removing stalks this way stimulates new growth 🌱
Forcing rhubarb – is simply covering the crowns to prevent light from reaching them. This process encourages the Rhubarb plants to develop early growth. The pale, forced stalks can be harvested once they are 20-30cm long for use in cooking.
How To Force Rhubarb
- Clear around the base of the Rhubarb crown, removing any weeds. Add a layer of mulch of manure or homemade compost. This is to add some beneficial nutrients to the soil, which will give the Rhubarb plant a boost
- Use a large bucket, pot or Rhubarb forcer to cover the crown.
- The stems should be ready to harvest eight weeks later.
Do You have to force Rhubarb?
No. I rarely bother, unless I want to get a jump start on my Rhubarb Crumbles! It’s mostly done for an earlier harvest, when little else is growing in the garden.