Growing your own Rhubarb is really easy as long as you keep it well drained and in full sun. Rhubarb is a hardy perennial with large leaves and pink, red or greenish stalks used in British favourite desserts such as pies and crumbles. Stems are usually picked in spring, but plants can be covered with Rhubarb bells to produce an early crop of blanched stalks in late winter. The flavour of rhubarb varies in sweetness depending on the age of the stems.
Cover the ground with composted manure to prevent weeds, taking care to avoid burying the crown – as it will cause it to rot.
In March cover the area above the roots with 100g per sq m of general purpose fertiliser, such as Growmore, and during dry spells water regularly to keep it moist and growing actively until autumn.
In autumn, when the top growth dies back, remove dead leaves exposing the crown to frost - this will help break dormancy and ensure a good crop of stalks the following year.
If you want an earlier crop, you can force stems by covering the crown with a forcing jar, bucket or upturned pot in late winter, blocking out all light. Use bricks or stones to cover drainage holes in pots. Stems are ready for harvesting when they reach the top of the container and forced stems are lighter-coloured and more tender than those grown in the open, and generally ready a few weeks earlier.
Rhubarb hates being waterlogged over the winter so make sure you have an open and sunny site with moist, free-draining soil. Stems are susceptible to frost so protect them from frost and any areas that are prone to being a 'frost pocket'.
You can grow rhubarb from seed but it's more common to plant crowns between autumn and spring. To prepare the ground dig two bucketfuls of Farmyard Manure per square metre, then spread the roots out and plant so the tip of the crown is just visible above the soil.
Pot-grown rhubarb can be planted at any time, but will need plenty of water during dry spells. Space plants 75-90cm apart in rows 30cm apart.
Rhubarb can also be planted in large pots at least 50cm wide and deep. Pot-grown rhubarb can be planted at any time, but will need plenty of water during dry spells.
During the first year after planting do not harvest as this will reduce the vigour of your plants. The following year remove a few stems, and from then on up to a third or half, leaving enough to keep the plant in active growth. To remove stems hold the stalk at the base and ease it out of the ground, trying to avoid snapping it off. It is best to cease pulling by June – or only remove a few stalks after then– to avoid over cropping the plant.
Speak to a member of our team for more advice
Slugs and snails feed on young seedlings and the slime trail will be obvious on the soil around your crop, as well as on the leaves.
There are many ways to control slugs and snails, such as Slug Gone Wool Pellets, Eraza Slug and Snail Killer as well as traditional methods such as copper tape, beer traps and eggshell barriers.
Colonies of greenfly on the soft shoot tips of plants or on leaves can suck sap and excrete sticky honeydew, encouraging the growth of black sooty moulds.
Squash the colonies between your finger and thumb and use a suitable spray – speak to a member of our team for advice on the best one to use.
A common problem caused by different soil or waterborne fungi or bacteria. Plants look sickly, fail to grow and rot at the crown. This can spread to stems and foliage and cause the plant to die.
If you act promptly you may save the plant. Remove affected areas by cutting well back into healthy tissue.