Rhubarb is an easy plant to grow and if you get the conditions right at the start it will be relatively trouble free for many years. It is a plant that looks fantastic in the vegetable garden with its large leaves and striking red stems but also gives you a sweet and tasty treat when there is little else to harvest.
Rhubarb needs to be planted in full sun (at least 6 hours) but will tolerate partial shade. Rhubarb also has an extensive root system so you shouldn’t dig around the plant – choose your site well and after planted leave it alone. Dig in plenty of organic matter about 4 weeks before planting time and give it time to settle. Remember the plant won’t like to be moved so you’re adding as much nutrient rich material as you can to keep it thriving over a long period of time.
Once plants sprout, apply mulch around the base to retain soil moisture and smother weeds. Renew the mulch when the foliage dies down in the fall to protect roots from extremely hard freezes. Provide enough water to keep roots from drying out, even when they’re dormant.
- Do not harvest any stalks during the first growing season so that your plants can become established.
- Harvest the stalks when they are 12 to 18 inches long. Usually after 3 years, the harvest period runs 8 to 10 weeks long. If the stalks become thin, stop harvesting; this means the plant’s food reserves are low.
- Grab the base of the stalk and pull it away from the plant with a gentle twist when ready to harvest.