Delicious and Good for You?
I’ve always been told that rhubarb is bad for you if you have arthritis but, on the up side, recently I read that rhubarb may help to prevent dementia. Either way, rhubarb is delicious and if you like it, then don’t waste your money buying over-priced packaged stems in the supermarket – grow your own.
Growing your own rhubarb is easy but it will take a year or so to get established in your garden and provide a good crop. So don’t delay, get your rhubarb crowns now! You can buy rhubarb crowns from any good garden centre or nursery, or find a friend or neighbour who will dig a root up for you.
Plant your rhubarb in full sun if possible and be aware that once established the plant will have a large spread. Don’t be discouraged if you don’t have a vegetable plot, plant in a sunny border, or in a large container.
The best time to plant is in November or early spring. Prepare the ground by digging and removing weeds and add plenty of well rotted compost or manure. Do not bury the crown completely but leave it slightly showing above the surface.
You can add a mulch of compost or leaf mould each spring – but make sure you do not cover the buds.
Ensure you water well, especially in dry periods – but do not let the crowns sit in water as they may rot.
Do not pick in the first year but leave the plant to become established. When you do pick, pull and twist the whole stems from the base. Once the plant is well established you can pick the stems often – do not let them become too thick and tough before picking.
Leaves are poisonous but can be snapped off and added to your compost heap. You will get fresh stems from May onwards but do not pick after the end of July to allow the plant to regenerate for the following year.
If you like very sweet tender stems then you can force the plant so the stems are ready in early spring. I would not do this with all your crowns but choose a couple and use established crowns only. Once you see the shoots start to grow early in the year, then cover the crown with a large bucket to exclude all the light. Leave and in about eight weeks time you will have tender stems to pick. After this, remove the cover and leave the rhubarb to grow normally.
In spring, if you notice that the rhubarb is starting to flower, then cut the flower shoots away at the base.
After the growing season is finished, cut away any dead yellowing leaves.
Rhubarb does not like to be moved but if you have well established crowns, you can lift them and divide. You can also do this every five years or so and replant to keep the plants performing well.
However, if you haven’t the time to give the plant a lot of care, you will probably find that your rhubarb will still be highly productive, and produce a lot for you to eat, freeze and to give away to your friends!
Rhubarb is delicious and throughout the summer, I eat it several times a week!
The simplest way to eat it, is to stew:
- Remove and discard the leaves
- Wash the rhubarb stems thoroughly
- Cut into inch long sections
- Place in a saucepan with a small amount of water, and add sugar.
- Bring to the boil, then simmer for approximately five minutes until the rhubarb is soft.
Then serve either with custard, cream or ice cream.
Of course, you can add the stewed rhubarb to a pie or to a delicious crumble.
So what are you waiting for? Make this the year that you plant rhubarb in your garden!
© Michelle @ 5pmFriday