Tips For Growing Rhubarb

Tips for growing rhubarb, including choosing healthy plants and site preparation.

Rhubarb is a perennial vegetable that can be grown in your home garden. It is low in calories and contains vitamins A and C. The only edible part of the plant is the stalks as the leaves are poisonous. Care should be taken with children and animals who have contact with the rhubarb leaves to prevent accidental ingestion which can be fatal.

There are many different varieties of rhubarb to choose from. Some of the varieties include the Victoria and the Sutton's seedless which have large green stalks. The Ruby, Valentine and the Canada Red are popular for their pink to red color and tender stalks.

Rhubarb can be started from seed or crowns that can be purchased in your garden center. Choosing crowns will save you a year of growing before you can harvest as the crowns are already a year old. Choose healthy crowns that are about one year old.



Location

Rhubarb grows well in almost any type of soil. Choose a spot that is well drained and recieves sun for the better part of the day. Keep in mind when you are choosing your location that rhubarb is a permanent garden vegetable. When properly cared for your rhubarb will grow and produce for close to ten years. Rhubarb grows nicely along a fence or right in the garden.

Preparing the Soil

Work the soil in the spring as soon as the soil can be turned. A fertilizer can be applied at this time. Animal manure can be used or a prepared fertilizer can be purchased from the garden center. The fertilizer should be applied both in the spring and the fall.

Planting and Care

Place the plants about three feet apart in a ditch, or furrow as it is commonly called. Only about an inch of the buds should be below the surface. Pack the soil around the buds. The rhubarb plants will need to be watered throughly during dry periods. Mulch can be be placed around the base of the plants when you put them in the ground. All efforts should be made to keep the plants moist during the growing season.

It is very important to control weeds in and around your rhubarb patch as weeds will rob the rhubarb of moisture. Remove weeds as they appear and mulch around the plants to control weeds.

Harvesting

Rhubarb cannot be harvested until it is three years old or two years if you started with crowns. This allows the rhubarb to establish a strong root system. When the plants are three years old you can begin to harvest and enjoy the stalks. Choose the stalks that are eight to ten inches long. The stalks should be pulled away from the plants close to the ground.

Some common ways of preparing the rhubarb stalks is to stew them or put them in a pie. They can be stored in your freezer cooked or raw so they can be enjoyed all winter.

When fall arrives the plants can be cut down and removed. Fertilizer can be applied at this time. The area should be covered with a light layer of mulch.

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