How to Grow Rhubarb


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Young rhubarb plant in my gardenRhubarb is a hardy perennial with large leaves grown for it's acid stalks. Grown in the vegetable garden, or used as an attractive border in a garden area, 4-6 plants will usually provide the average family with a fresh supply of rhubarb.

How to Grow Rhubarb

Rhubarb can be grown from seeds but the best results are obtained by planting out healthy crowns comprising of a bud and a piece of the crown. Chose only strong young pieces with healthy growth buds.

Prepare the soil for planting rhubarb by deep trenching a hole 1 meter wide and by the same depth if possible. Fork over the subsoil and add 1kg of bone dust or meal. Mix equal parts of stable, cow or poultry manure and replace to form a mound. To plant your rhubarb make a depression in the mound for holding water by forming a ridge around the outside of the mound. Plant the rhubarb evenly spaced with the strongest crown eye at soil level. Make sure that the crown of the root is no more than 10cm (1 inch) below the surface. Water in with liquid blood and bone. When planting in rows the plants and rows should be about 1.2m (4ft) apart. They will then have room to spread their roots and produce healthy stalks.

Rhubarb Seed HeadKeep the weeds down and water well during the summer months to prevent the leaves from wilting. Do not allow stalks to flower at any stage. Remove any flower stalks as they emerge as seed production will rob the plant of food and sap it's energy. Rhubarb sometimes produce flower heads prematurely due to over-dry conditions or lack of essential soil nutrients.

Each year in late autumn or early winter, when growth has stopped, give the plants a heavy dressing of poultry, stable or cow manure raked in lightly between the rows and around the plants. Be careful not to damage the crowns. Propagate rhubarb by dividing during late winter every four years. Lift the crowns, clean them up and replant in a new area.

Selecting and Storing

Pick brightly coloured red stems as the older, duller stems tend to be stringy. When picking rhubarb, pull the stalks away from the crown only on plants growing strongly. This is best done by grasping the stem near the base and gently pulling upwards with a twisting motion. If this is done carefully no damage will result and it is easier than cutting with a knife.

Store in the fridge in a plastic bag ready for use. A good way to keep any excess rhubarb is to freeze it. Cut the stems to desired length then place in a freezer bag and put into the freezer until required.

Caution: Do not eat the leaves - they are poisonous.

Nutrition Information

Rhubarb provides a small range of a range of nutrients including vitamin C, dietary fibre, calcium and potassium.

Using Rhubarb

A few well attended plants will provide a good supply for deserts, sauces and pies. Delicious when paired with chicken, fish, and meats in a variety of savoury dishes. Rhubarb stewed with a little sugar is great with your breakfast cereal, or eaten with ice-cream as a dessert. It tastes great in muffins, cakes, jams, or crumbles.

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