Rhubarb is one of those plants that can be grown most anywhere, needs little attention and provides your dinner table with a heart -warming dessert. In the garden it can hide an untidy corner with its large architectural leaves and provide a splash of colour with its long vivid red stalks.
The first thing you need to do is to prepare the soil, dig it over and add some mulch or rotted manure. We usually water the soil and wait a day or too before the actual planting. Rhubarb needs plenty of sun, a nice sunny corner is ideal.When you buy a rhubarb plant you buy what is called a ‘rhubarb crown’. Plant this just below the soil. This plant will grow and provide a large spread of cover with its leaves, so if planting more than one space them out, around 3ft or a large stride between them.
You can plant between November and March. March here this year is cold, the grown is covered in snow and pretty solid. If I was thinking of planting out now I would be inclined to wait until the snow had disappeared and let the ground warm up for a day or too. Nature cannot be rushed!
During the summer water well especially if like here the summers have been dry and adding some feed once during the summer encourages good growth.
Planting Rhubarb in a pot
We have successfully grown rhubarb in a pot on the patio. The same conditions are required, a well-manured soil, a sunny spot and watering. With its large architectural leaves it’s quite a talking point.
Old crowns can be harvested as early as March so the books say, however talking from experience the stems have never been long enough to harvest till about May time maybe even as late as the end of the month. They stems should be around 10-12inches long before harvesting. Pulling stems is the best way of harvesting. Grab the base of the stem and pull gently not to pull the root but just to release the stem. In the first couple of years don’t harvest too much, let the plant build some real solid roots and strength.
During the winter months the plant dies down, the leaves can be thrown on the compost heap. Please don’t use the leave in cooking, they ARE poisonous! After a few years when the crown has grown fairly big you can propagate the plant by lifting it gently in the autumn and dividing it up.
Once you have a few stems, enough for what you need then cut of the leaves which can be added to the compost heap and it’s straight into the kitchen to make your favourite dish: rhubarb crumble, rhubarb pie, stewed rhubarb with a dollop of cream, yummy!. Bon apetit!