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Growing Rhubarb

Jan F M A M J J A S O N Dec
                P P    

(Best months for growing Rhubarb in Australia - temperate regions)

P = Plant in the garden.

  • Easy to grow. Plant pieces of rhizome or roots 8 - 10 cm (3 - 4 in.) deep. Best planted at soil temperatures between 5°C and 20°C. (Show °F/in)
  • Space plants: 90 cm apart
  • Harvest in approximately 1 years. You will have a stronger plant if you leave it for about a year before using..
  • Compatible with (can grow in same bed): Brassicas (Cabbage, Broccoli, Cauliflower, etc)
  • Young rhubarb
    Young rhubarb

Rhubarb is easy to grow in cool climates and is a perennial. Rhubarb can be left in the ground and will return a crop for many years, at least 10 to 15 years (We have one that is more than 20 yrs old). Rhubarb is quite a hardy crop but the crown will rot if in heavy wet clay soils. It can cope with dry periods. Plant in good soil and remove as many weeds as possible. Do not disturb rhubarb roots when cultivating round the plant. Better in cooler climates, but can be grown in shady areas of warm climates. You can lift and divide rhubarb to make more plants . It is best to do this when the plant is dormant ( or at least less actively growing) in winter or late autumn. It is best to wait until a plant is about 5 years old before dividing the crown but it can be moved at any age. Some of the root structure will be damaged when lifting it, so stalk production will not be so good for a few months. If you have mild winters and your rhubarb is still producing new stalks, you can continue to pick it. Although rhubarb is used in desserts and jams, it is considered a vegetable because the stalks are used not the fruit.

NB Do not eat the leaves or roots as they contain oxalic acid which is poisonous. They should not be fed to poultry or stock either.

Remove flower stalks as they appear as the plant will stop producing leaf stalks when flowering.

Rhubarb can be 'forced' by covering dormant crowns with clay pots or a cloche in early spring.

Culinary hints - cooking and eating Rhubarb

Pick stems about the thickness of your finger. Large stems will have tough 'strings' down the length of them.
Use in pies, crumbles, fools and jams. Rhubarb goes well with orange.
Will usually need sweetener.

Your comments and tips

11 Feb 17, Bernadette (Australia - temperate climate)
Can any parts of rhururb plants be given to worms to make into compost or just brake down into the soil. Thank you
13 Feb 17, John (Australia - temperate climate)
Rhubarb leaves contain oxalic acid which is toxic to mammals including humans in large amounts. My poultry have been eating the leaves for years and it hasn't affected them. I have added rhubarb leaves to my garden for a long time and the soil is alive with worms. My philosophy is 'if it once lived and can rot, it's okay. I would tear or cut up the leaves before adding them as it may make a barrier hindering up and down movement of the worms if you just put them in in a layer. Trust this helps.
27 Jan 17, John Ludbrook (Australia - sub-tropical climate)
My rhubarb is growing well and the stalks are at least two fingers thick but don't seem to going red and the leaves are huge, when is the best time to harvest. John
04 Feb 17, John (Australia - temperate climate)
Some rhubarb plants do not produce stems that are very red but if they are well fed and watered the stems will still be the same. Put a drop or so of cochineal (a natural red colouring) in the pot as you are cooking it to impprove the colour if you prefer.
29 Jan 17, Krishna (Australia - sub-tropical climate)
Hi. I just read to put ash around the base to turn them from green to red. I hope this works. I've never tried it myself. Good luck.
22 Jan 17, Rebecca (Australia - temperate climate)
I have just cooked a massive batch of stewed rhubarb I harvested today from a mostly green variety. It tastes awful, I used lemonade as per my grandmothers recipes and topped up with caster sugar, but it tastes 'green' and bitter, not like the nice usual tangy flavour. Does anyone have any tips? It's quite enedible, thanks.
23 Jan 17, barb (USA - Zone 6b climate)
it is my understanding tvat the green parts of rhubarb are poisinous and should never be consumed i cook the pink parts of stalks and cook with sugar, or cook with strawberries and sugar and it is quite tasty
23 Jan 17, Cheryl Bromfield (Australia - temperate climate)
Spread some ash around the base of your rhubarb and will turn red.
19 Jan 17, Miriam (Australia - sub-tropical climate)
I have many green stalks but only a couple have a ting of pink...How long do I leave them for....Some of the stalks are rotting... They do get a lot of heat in summer.. they are in a raised garden bed and get fed and watered well
23 Jan 17, Alison (Australia - cool/mountain climate)
Hi, I'm no expert but this my experience with Rhubarb. I'm in Canberra and we have cold winters, minus temps, with hot to very hot summers, mid 20s to mid 30s. Rhubarb stalks, depending on the variety, range from greenish/pinkish ting right through to a beautiful crimson. Your plants may just be the variety that never really goes red. My rhubarb stalks are a very light red with green. Harvest time is usually spring to early summer. In really hot summers my plants just wilt and sulk and never really do anything till next spring. In fact some summers the plants die back and I'm sure I've killed them, but up they come in spring. They also like a shed load of organic material in the soil. They are what is known as gross feaders. Your soil may just be too free draining and the water is washing the nutrients away. They also do not like to be water logged. Hope that helps Cheers Alison
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