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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

14 Mar 17, Joanne (Australia - temperate climate)
Hello, Is Rhubarb available all year round in Australia? I'm from Britain and our climate is pretty "simpler" (lack of a better word) when it comes to planting and harvesting. But I see in Australia the climate varies and i guess so does harvesting time?
15 Mar 17, Jack (Australia - temperate climate)
Rhubarb is generally available all year round from nurseries, garden centres hardware stores like Bunnings and is also often available from community or farmers markets. Most plants available are seedlings and stem colour can be vary from green through to deep red. This doesn't affect the flavour, only the appearance. Add a few drops of cochineal (a natural red colouring) to improve the appearance. Roots are sometimes available in the winter. Check the places mentioned during winter.
07 Mar 17, Brenda Robinson (Australia - sub-tropical climate)
I have just planted some rhubarb seedlings (probably wrong time of year maybe) however, how do I feed the plants and what with. I have put them in a pot and not in the ground, would this hamper the growth.
08 Mar 17, John (Australia - temperate climate)
Rhubarb has a large root when it is mature and would ideally need a pot abot 20 litres. It also likes cooler conditions so position the pot so it doesn't get the hot sun on the pot. Overall it is easy to grow; just keep the water up.
08 Mar 17, John (Australia - temperate climate)
It's okay to plant rhubarb now. Rhubarb often dies back in the winter in cooler areas. It doesn't like a hot position so plant it so that it gets shelter from the afternoon heat if necessary. Rhubarb is a 'gross' feeder which means it likes lots of manure and water to give the best results. A couple of handfuls of Blood & Bone, a shovel full of old manure or a handful of pelletised manure placed in the bottom of the planting hole and covered with a layer of soil before planting will give good results. Most rhubarb that is sold is grown from seed and the resulting stem colour can range from all green to a good red. The flavour will still be the same. To redden it up when cooking add a few drops of cochineal (a natural red colouring) while it is cooking. To avoid adding sugar try using Stevia which is available at many shops. Stevia is a non calorie extract from the Stevia plant and is much better for you. All the best.
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.
Showing 1 - 10 of 273 comments

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