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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

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
07 Jan 17, norman john Chapman (Australia - temperate climate)
1st time Rhubarb grower;1 plant going strong 3mths from a seadling ; good red stalks. 1) when do I pick them? 2) do I break them off at the base as I do Silver Beat? 3) should I grow 2 or more to produse enough for a Apple & Rhubarb desert?
09 Jan 17, John (Australia - temperate climate)
To harvest rhubarb stalks pull them down and twist them away from the crown. You will get the idea when you try it. Two healthy well fed plants will produce a lot of stalks but it all depends on how much Apple and Rhubarb pie you like! Rhubarb also make3 a lovely sparkling brewed drink aas well, only takes a fw days in soft drink bottles.
03 Jan 17, Graeme (Australia - temperate climate)
My rhubarb was doing quite ok......only just 12 months old. It is planted in my raised bed vegie patch. But suddenly the stalks and leaves went limp and have now perished. It looks quite dead. I watered it along with the rest of the vegies almost daily. Could I have over-watered it ? If so, would I be better having my rhubarb in a large pot ? The vegie patch gets bags of cow manure and organic each year before planting, so the soil is quite rich. (My tomatoes have gone "feral). Any help you can give would be appreciated. I live in Corowa on the Murray River and we have hot summers.
03 Jan 17, John Mauger (Australia - temperate climate)
Rhubarb normally thrives with plenty of water and manure but doesn't like the belting heat. I have grown rhubarb for years in a spot with morning sun and shelter after noon. and have had good success. if you have digging around the plant you may have rodents eating the roots but I've never encountered that. Sorry I can't be of more help.
29 Dec 16, Sue Burns (Australia - temperate climate)
I have a very small rhubarb growing in a small pot. When can I plant it out into a large tub? It is now summer in Melbourne.
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