It’s been a long time since I’ve done a garden update! We have been very busy at work out in our yard. Because of the late snow and then the heavy rains that descended upon us afterwards we are finding ourselves playing catch up in the garden. We’re still pruning our fruit trees and trying to move the 12 yards of soil we got into the new veggies garden.
I try to pick different tasks each day to do while I’m outside with the kids. It helps to change things up so that I don’t get too achy from using the same muscles over and over (while wearing a baby on my back!). And it also helps me to stay really excited about working in the garden.
When we were working out there last weekend, finishing up the NEW FENCE (Post coming ~ just wait until you see what my husband built with free pallets!) I came across our rhubarb patch. Rhubarb is such a treat to find blooming in the Spring. It disappears completely after its late summer bloom and there are no signs of it for months. Then all of a sudden, there it is! In full swing, big leaves fanning towards the sun, beautiful pinks stalks growing tall and thick.
Last year I didn’t get any rhubarb from my patch. I was thoroughly disappointed because I really enjoy rhubarb. The weeds took over and within weeks they had choked out all the rhubarb. (You can just imagine how many weeds there were if you know how big rhubarb plants can be!)
This year I was determined not to let that happen. So I spent my morning outside carefully turning the soil around my plant and handpicking as many of the weeds as I could. I then mulched the bed with straw, filling it in around the bigger stalks and just putting it right over the smaller leaves and stalks.
I am happy to report that my rhubarb is thriving. It’s gotten bigger and there are no signs of weeds. I have one more area of the patch to weed out and mulch so that I’ll have rhubarb to enjoy this summer.
Growing rhubarb is very simple because these plants are hardy and pretty low maintenance. They do best in climates that have a cold winter.
Rhubarb is a heavy feeder and doesn’t like competition, so be sure to rid your chosen area of any perennial weeds. The ideal site will be one that has fertile, well drained soil and full sun light.
Rhubarb is planted in crowns and can be planted in the spring or in the fall.
In the spring, as soon as the soil is workable, the crowns can be planted while the roots are in the dormant stage. Likewise, as soon as the roots enter dormancy in the fall, it can be planted.
Rhubarb roots should be planted 1 to 2 inches deep and plants should be spaced 4 feet apart as they grow quite large. Because they are such heavy feeders, it is a good idea to add compost, rotted manure, or anything high in organic matter to the soil.
Keep the weeds picked during the growing season. They will greatly affect your rhubarbs growth. Mulch around your plant to ensure that it receives the nutrients needed and stays moist. Water it heavily, especially during the summer months.
If your stalks are thin and don’t thicken out, your rhubarb needs more nutrients!
Rhubarb should be dug up and the roots divided every 3-4 years and then replanted.
At the end of the growing season, remove any debris left from the plant. Add nitrogen to the soil with well rotted compost and provide 2-4 inches of mulch over the winter.
Now for the best part – harvesting and then enjoying your rhubarb. This makes all the “work” of growing rhubarb worth it!Although usually paired with something sweet, rhubarb is a vegetable! Click To Tweet
Rhubarb needs a year to really get well established so don’t pick any stalks during the first year. After that, harvest when the stalks are anywhere from 12-18 inches long depending on your variety. To pick, hold stalk and pull away near the base of the plant with a slight twisting motion.
Once your plant is 3 years old, you should get a harvest season lasting 8-10 weeks.
NOTE: The leaves of the rhubarb plant are poisonous so DO NOT EAT them!
I love stewed rhubarb on oatmeal. I also enjoy strawberry rhubarb pie. But, my all time favourite way to enjoy rhubarb is to make rhubarb juice. We then use the juice to make rhubarb lemonade. You can drink this in the middle of winter and it still tastes like summer! If you’ve never tried it, I highly recommend giving it a go!
We have always made our rhubarb juice using a steam juicer. However, if you don’t have a steam juicer, there is a very simple alternative to making the juice using just a pot and some water. Carolyn Cope shared her recipe on Serious Eats.
And, if you have a cold juicer at home you can try raw rhubarb juice! I haven’t done this yet, but since coming across this blog post on Provident Living Today I’m certainly eager to try it. I’m thinking rhubarb ice cubes would be much loved during the heat of the summer months.
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So, now that you are ready, you can get this note taking page for your garden planning binder.
Make a simple drawing of your rhubarb garden layout. Take note of what the weather was like, what worked well this year, when you harvested and how much.
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