Rhubarb

Rhubarb is a cool-season crop used for jams, baked goods, and desserts. It’s very easy to grow and each plant produces an abundant crop each spring. The portion of the plant that is consumed is the petiole, or leaf stem, which is tart and crisp, and cooked or baked before being eaten. Leaves are not consumed, and are actually poisonous if ingested. Rhubarb is a forgiving plant that will grow in less than ideal conditions and doesn’t require much care. Once established, plants often produce more stems than a person knows what to do with, so are often shared with neighbors, family, and friends.

Light

Prefers full sun.

Planting

Plant in early spring, in a location where it won’t be disturbed. Prefers an area that is well-drained. Plant so the crown is 1-2 inches below the soil surface and space about 4 feet.

Soil

Fertile, well drained soil, high in organic matter. Incorporate compost to soil when planting.

Water

Water well, especially during summer months.

Fertilizer

Rhubarb is a heavy feeder and does well with a good annual dose of compost, such as Purple Cow Organic Compost. Do not use chemical fertilizers, as they can harm or kill the plant.

Grooming

To allow the plant to get established, don’t harvest any stems the first year and only a few the following year. Keep rhubarb bed weeded. Each season, stop harvesting when stems become thin.

Mulch

Provide 2-4 inches of mulch to cool the soil, conserve moisture, and prevent weeds.

Problems

Very little problems, though it can sometimes suffer from crown rot if soil doesn’t drain well enough.