Before we go any further, I know you think I’ve put Rhubarb into the wrong category (Herb) but it is in fact technically a herb, not a fruit. Herb are those edibles where you harvest and use the stems or leaves. Fruits have seeds 🙂
A well cared for Rhubarb plant will produce fresh, crisp stalks for eating within a 4-6 weeks of planting or transplanting.
You can also grow Rhubarb from seed but if doing so, you will need to be patient for several years before your plant will produce reliably.
When To Plant
Rhubarb should be planted or transplanted during the Winter when the plant is dormant and most of the upper growth has died off.
Dig your plants crown (a rhizome root) with good compost and then cover the crown with pea straw, lawn clippings or similar to protect the crown from any frosts or snow. The new stalks will poke their heads out in the Spring.
Each rhubarb crown will produce a plant that can grown up to around 80cm tall by 80cm wide.
Smaller, newer crowns will produce smaller plants. As will unhealthy crowns.
Growing Rhubarb is reasonably simple but it does best in cooler climates and loves a cold Winter.
It needs good soil moisture and will die off quickly in dry, sandy soils if not kept well watered.
Water well during the warmer seasons and apply mulch to retain the moisture.
Trim any flowers that appear off. If you leave these to fully develop, the plant will eventually die.
Remove any dead, withered leaves and stalks from the plant.
Every two years, dig up the rhizome and split and transplant or give away to friends and family. Rhubarb does best when it is regularly split and will produce thicker, healthier stems.
Don’t harvest any stalks from your plant in the first year of it’s growth. This helps the plants grow stronger for future crops.
When you’re ready to harvest your stems, start with the outer stems and carefully pull them away from the ‘crown’ and snap them off. They should come away relatively easily. You can also cut them off with a clean, sharp knife, approximately 2cms away from the crown of the plant. Then cut the leaf off the top of the stem and use them to make Rhubarb Leaf Insecticide. Don’t put the leaves in your compost as the acid in them can make your compost toxic.
Store your fresh stems in the fridge to use within a few days, or cut the stems into small pieces and freeze for longer term storage.