|Wednesday Whatís New: Itís Rhubarb Time!|
|Written by Heleigh Bostwick Wednesday, 21 April 2010|
Are you a fan of rhubarb? Lots of Daily Dirt readers are and I am too, so here are a few tips for growing a successful rhubarb crop.
I was surprised to see rhubarb at the grocery store the other day, which means itís time for the annual trip to my brotherís house to harvest this yearís crop of rhubarb. It seems early, but maybe not since weíve been having unusually warm weather here in northern New England. Rhubarb thrives in cold climates (USDA Zone 2). In fact, it actually needs two months of temperatures below 40į F (4į C) in order for shoots to grow in the spring, so if you live in the southern US you may not even be familiar with this plant.
Rhubarb is technically a vegetable but we consider it a fruit because of the way we cook and eat it. In cultivation since 2700 B.C. for its medicinal attributes, rhubarb as we know it became popular in the 18th century. There are several varieties of rhubarb, the most common ones being Victoria Red, Crimson Cherry, 1 Macdonald, and Ruby. Victoria is the oldest cultivar dating back to the 1800s. There are also a couple of old-fashioned green varieties, Riverside Giant and Glaskins Perpetual.
And now for some tips:
1. Grown from root divisions (easiest) or seed
Prefers full sun and moist, fertile soil (add plenty of compost)
2. As hard as it might be, do not harvest during the first growing season. Plants and root systems need time to establish.
3. To increase yield and lengthen the harvesting period, remove the flowering stalk. Once rhubarb starts to flower, the plant will put it's energy toward flowers and seeds and not producing more stalks.
4. Pest and disease-free, the only affliction rhubarb is prone to is crown rot, which causes the stalks to wither and eventually die.
5. Divide rhubarb plants every five or six years in early spring just as the leaves are unfurling. 6. Plant the root sections three to four inches (0.9-1.2 m) apart in rows that are spaced four to five feet (1.2-1.5 m). Place the crowns just deep enough that the growing point is level with the soil surface. Keep them well watered throughout the season.
Life's Little Rhubarb Cookbook: 101 Rhubarb Recipes
Rhubarb: More than Just Pies
Death By Rhubarb (A Heaven Lee Culinary Mystery)
Article source: Rhubarb lovers rooting for early harvest by By Leslie Cox - Comox Valley Record