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How to Grow Rhubarb

By Edited Dec 16, 2013 0 1


Rhubarb is an interesting plant, and a must-have if space in the garden allows. The earliest records of rhubarb date to 2700 BC in ancient China, where it was used for its medicinal properties. Many varieties of rhubarb exist, but all are grown basically the same way. Rhubarb prefers full sun, but can grow in dappled shade. Rhubarb prefers a moderate amount of water. Usually spring and summer rains provide all the water rhubarb needs. (If the leaves appear to droop, it's time to water.) The plant can grow up to four feet around, depending on the variety grown. Rhubarb is a perennial plant, meaning it comes back year after year. The leaves and stalks die back in cold weather in cold climates, but leaves remain green in warmer climates. Rhubarb performs best and grows bigger when grown in the ground, but can successfully be grown, and overwintered, in a large pot. If grown in a large pot, the pot should be brought inside to a dark, cool area such as a basement or garage for the winter so that the roots do not succumb to winter damage.

Rhubarb is most easily propagated by dividing the rhizome of the plant but can also be grown from seed. Typically, unless the plant is being used to grow seed, the seed heads should be cut off to allow for more energy to be used producing stalks.

Rhubarb is harvested typically in Northern states in May, June, July, and August. Pull the stalks from the bottom of the plant. If stalks are ready to be harvested, they will snap off easily. Cut or tear off the leaves, as the leaves contain a fair amount of oxalic acid, which is poisonous. The stalks themselves contain much lesser concentrations of oxalic acid and are safe for people to ingest. Rhubarb leaves are good for use either near the rhubarb plant or in other parts of the garden to snuff out weed seeds before they develop into full-grown plants. Simply place the leaves on bare soil and leave them. The rhubarb leaves are easily broken down and provide essential nutrients to the soil.

Rhubarb stalks can be frozen, dried, and even canned. Though rhubarb is most commonly used to make pies and tortes, rhubarb can also be used to make muffins, sauces, cookies, jam, and even wine. Freezing is the most common preservation method. To freeze rhubarb, wash the stalks and cut them into one-inch pieces (or smaller, depending upon the intended use). Boil the pieces for about five minutes, then immediately place them in a bowl of ice water for five to ten minutes. Place the pieces on a towel to dry for at least an hour, then place them into a freezer bag and put the bag into the freezer.

Rhubarb is a highly recommended plant for the home garden. While technically a vegetable, its tart, slightly sweet taste makes the use most resemble a fruit.

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Comments

Jun 2, 2010 5:51pm
Lynsuz
Love rhubarb, my Mother grows it NY, but in GA I can't.
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