I can't imagine a summer without eating rhubarb crumble and custard, and to use home grown rhubarb in your recipes makes the dish perfect. Why not grow your own rhubarb in your garden this year? Rhubarb yeilds an average of 5 lb per plant and has a lifespan of 5 years. That equates to alot of crumbles!
Rhubarb requires a well fed soil, a sunny spot and division every five years. Select a spot that is not prone to water logging in the winter. Dig over the bed in autumn and incorporate compost or well rotted farm yard manure. Incorporate a general purpose fertiliser in the early spring prior to planting.
Plant your rhubarb plants in mid February to end of March. Set the bud just below the surface and gently firm the surrounding soil. Your plants require lots of room so space your plants 90 cm apart in both directions. Water gently.
Allow new plants to become established for 12-18 months before pulling.
Mulch with compost or well rotted manure in January or February. During the growing season feed the plants with liquid fertiliser during the summer. Keep the plants well watered as rhubarb will suffer in drought.
You can start pulling your sticks from April onwards. Hold the stalk close to the ground and twist upwards. Always leave at least 4 stalks on the plant and do not pick after July.
Watch out for diseases such as crown rot and honey fungus. There is no cure for either so remove infected plants and burn, and do not replant in the affected area.
Every five years divide the plants by lifting the mature roots (crowns) and dividing. Cut into pieces bearing one or more buds and replant.
You can force rhubarb to provide an earlier February or March crop. These stalks are thinner and paler other stalks but have the advantage of being sweeter.
In January cover each crown with an upturned bucket or container covered with compost or straw. You can start harvesting the stalks 6 weeks later.
Do not force the same plants the following year but allow to rest for two years.
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