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Discover Rhubarb

Here’s the chance for you to discover some of the basic facts about Rhubarb as well as some essential growing tips. Use these to decide whether you want to grow the fruit, whether you are able to and what you need to do or look out for in order to grow a bountiful crop!

Rhubarb Fact Sheet
Other names: Rheum rhabarbarum
Appearance/taste: It is a herbaceous perennial growing from short, thick rhizomes. It produces large poisonous leaves that are somewhat triangular, with long fleshy edible stalks and small flowers grouped in large compound leafy greenish-white to rose-red inflorescences. Fresh raw leaf stalks are crisp with a strong, tart taste
Popular varieties: Timperly Early AGM, Hawkes Champagne AGM and Victoria
Interesting fact: Rhubarb is native to China and for thousands of years people believed it was a medicine. Rhubarb was grown in Europe in the 17th century and by the 18th century it was used as a food as well as medicine. In the 19th century rhubarb became a popular food in North America.
Nutritional value: Rhubarb is packed with minerals, vitamins, organic compounds, dietary fiber, protein, vitamin C, vitamin K, B complex vitamins, calcium, potassium, manganese and magnesium
When to grow: Dormant rhubarb crowns are best planted in late Autumn or early Spring. Pot grown plants can be planted at any time of year. Sow rhubarb seed into a seed bed or pots in early Spring. Plant the most vigorous seedlings into their final position in Summer.
Likes: Rhubarb is a very hungry plant and requires a rich, fertile soil in which to thrive. Plants should be spaced 3ft apart in all directions
Dislikes: Doesn’t like to be too soggy in the Winter.
Watch out for: Crown rot can occur causing the plant to lose its vigour and become sickly. If caught early enough, the plant can be rescued by cutting it back to healthy growth.
Harvest time: New plants can be harvested from their second year after planting. Seed grown rhubarb should ideally be left until the third year, but could be lightly harvested in the second year if you really can’t wait!
Cooking tips: To poach rhubarb cut into sticks, scatter with sugar, add a splash of water and simmer gently for 8 minutes until soft and longer to cook it to a puree or compote. Rhubarb can also be roasted in brown sugar for 20 minutues in the oven
Essential Growing Tips for Rhubarb
> Improving Soil/Feeding - It will enjoy a sunny spot and the best place to plant rhubarb is in a sunny position next to the compost bin as it will absorb the nutrients soaked into the soil surrounding the bin.
> Distance between Plants - Plants should be spaced 3ft apart in all directions. Rhubarb can be grown in a pot, but it will need generous proportions to achieve a good harvest.
> Problems to look out for - In the Harrod Kitchen Garden rabbits like a good chew at tender new rhubarb leaves. Maintaining a good rabbit fence made from strong wire prevents the rabbits from getting any opportunity to tuck in.
> Harvesting and Storage - Established rhubarb can be harvested between March and July. Stems should be pulled from the base of the plant. Do not harvest after July as the plant will need time to recover and rejuvenate in order to provide a good crop the following year.
> Forcing - Rhubarb plants can be forced to provide tender young early stems. To do this you will need to cover a plant with a rhubarb forcer in January to exclude light. Check the plant regularly and pick stems when they reach the top of the forcer. Forcing rhubarb will put the plant under stress so choose a well established plant. Uncover it at the end of March and leave the plant to recover for the rest of the season. Rotate the plant that is forced each year if possible

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