Rhubarb is a fairly remarkable plant – the gorgeous red stalks make wonderful dishes including rhubarb pie and jam however the leaves are VERY poisonous. So if you have dogs or children who are prone to eating things in the garden this might not be the one to plant at this stage. Here are a few tips on how to grow Rhubarb…
– Full sun
– Cooler temperatures
– Well drained soil
How to plant Rhubarb…
– Rhubarb has a large root system so if you are planting it in a pot make sure the pot holds a minimum of 40 litres of compost.
– Space rhubarb 4 feet apart (yes they grow big) so make sure there is space surrounding where you plant it
– Be sure to mix compost, rotted manure, or anything high in organic matter in the soil. Rhubarb plants are heavy feeders and need this organic matter. Don’t add a chemical fertilizer when planting rhubarb or during the first year of growth. Direct contact with nitrates can kill your rhubarb plants.
– Water your plant well. It needs sufficient moisture during the summer – again if the temperature is too high the plants will suffer. These plants are better adapted to Autumn and Winter in South Africa.
How to harvest your Rhubarb…
- Do not harvest any stalks during the first growing season so that your plants can become established.
- Harvest the stalks when they are 12 to 18 inches long. Usually after 3 years, the harvest period runs 8 to 10 weeks long. If the stalks become thin, stop harvesting; this means the plant’s food reserves are low.
- Grab the base of the stalk and pull it away from the plant with a gentle twist. If this doesn’t work, you can cut the stalk at the base. Be sure the discard of the leaves!
- Always leave at least 2 stalks per plant to ensure continued production. You may have a bountiful harvest for up to 20 years without having to replace your rhubarb plants.
- After harvest time, the stems may die back. Just remove all plant debris. Once your ground freezes, it’s best to cover rhubarb with 2 to 4 inches of mulch, preferably well-rotted compost; by adding nitrogen to the soil, you’re preparing the rhubarb plants for a good spring season.
(thank you to http://www.almanac.com/plant/rhubarb for this information)