Rhubarb is delicious and is a great basis for a number of traditional, and not so traditional puddings and treats. Whilst it did lose its popularity, it is currently making a comeback and, within as little as 18 months after planting it, you will be able to taste the fruits of your labour! Although, having said that, rhubarb is actually a very easy fruit to grow: here are some tips on how do it!
Choose The Right Time
The ideal time for planting rhubarb crowns is either in early Spring, as soon as the ground is workable, the roots are still dormant and growing has quite yet begun, and plants are just beginning to leaf out. Alternatively, you could plant them in Autumn after dormancy has begun.
Choose The Right Spot
The ideal spot for planting your rhubarb crown would have well drained and fertile soil. It should also be in full sunlight, if possible, although rhubarb plants will still grow well in partially shaded areas. It grows best in areas where the temperature is around 4 degrees Celsius in Winter and 23 degrees in Summer.
Weed The Area
It is important to rid the patch of all weeds before you plant your rhubarb. Not only do weeds look untidy, they will also take up many of the vital nutrients in the ground that your rhubarb plants need to flourish. You should continue to weed the area regularly as the rhubarb grows.
Dig The Holes
Most rhubarb crowns require a large basket-sized holes in order that the roots have enough space to grow. You should also plant the crowns around five centimeters below the surface and leave around four feet between them in order that they don’t interfere with each other above ground.
Fertilise The Plants
In order to grow to their fullest potential, it is important that you feed them with organic fertiliser- they are heavy feeders, so require a lot of support. Mix any compost, manure or anything high in organic matter into the soil to give the plants a boost. Any contact with the nitrates in chemical fertilisers in the first year of growth could kill your rhubarb plants instead of being a benefit.
Mulching the soil in which the rhubarb is planted will enrich the nutrients in the soil, giving the plants an added boost. Mulching will also help to regulate moisture and temperature levels in the soil and discourage weed growth in the area. Straw, bark and manure are ideal materials to use for mulching.
After around 18 months of waiting, mulching and watering, you will be able to harvest the rhubarb. The stalks are ready for harvesting when they are between 12 and 18 inches long. You should always leave at least two stalks on the plant to ensure that it grows again for the next harvest, and stop harvesting if stalks appear thin or weak-- it is a sign that their food reserves are low.
Follow these steps and you will have no problem growing your own delicious rhubarb with which you can make a selection of treats including, jams wines and crumbles.