Rhubarb, an easily grown vegetable

Larry G. Field
Wednesday, July 3, 2019
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Rhubarb is another vegetable that can be easily grown. Although it is nothing like asparagus, the “process” of both is similar. Both are perennials that are grown for their stalks/stems/spears depending on the terminology. Rhubarb is used more as a fruit while asparagus is used more as a veggie. Both emerge early in the spring so there is no need to rush them. If one were to grow them “above ground” in a barrel, they would activate even earlier in the spring. This process/technique is good for species that don’t start early. If you jump start these two, some will be lost to frost.

Rhubarb is easily grown. A package of seed will produce far too many plants that will mature in 2-3 years. Plants can be purchased at competitive prices if you search the dealers for price comparisons, which seem to vary considerably. “Friends” may let you harvest a cutting from established plants. If you use this option, do not harvest from your “started” plant the first year; in fact, regardless of how you start your plant, don’t harvest the first year. We made some changes in our perennial beds this past summer so we moved two rhubarb plants to the garden where we cut them in half and multiplied two plants to the four we now have. One plant is probably enough but we get lots of requests so we made this move.

Some folks cook well with rhubarb making excellent sweets; others have difficulty. This plant can be used for pies, bars, turnovers, jams, jellies, wine, syrup, bread, muffins and much more. Don’t over harvest, all plants require time to re-generate. We probably harvest for self use until June, a little later to fill requests, and allow the plant to regenerate during late summer. Harvest by bending an individual stem side-ways until it breaks from the base of the plant. The leaves are reportedly poisonous, I have not verified this but you should assume that they are.

Rhubarb plants tend to form huge seed stalks and thousands of seeds. Use a sharp knife to remove these early in development near their bases so the plant energy goes to developing rhubarb, not rhu- barb seed heads & seeds. If you do not control this seed growth, you may have a million volunteer plants the following year.

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