Wednesday, May 26, 2010
Rhubarb likes rich, slightly acidic soil in a site with full sun to partial shade. It does well in a corner or along the edge of a garden where it can grow without shading or competing with other plants. Rhubarb grows to be a large plant some plants around here getting to be three or four feet in diameter and about three feet tall, give it plenty of space.
As rhubarb grows larger it can be dug up and divided, shared with friends and neighbors or provide more plants for your own yard. This year I dug up and transplanted the two plants that I received from my daughter last summer, I was able to divide the plant into five new rhubarb plants and I transplanted them in a space with more room to grow. Plant or transplant in early spring or fall. Dig a hole deeper than the root and mix in compost or well-rotted manure with the soil you removed. Plant the root and replace some of the amended soil, making a mound high enough so the crown (where the roots and leaf stalks meet) will be just below the soil surface. Replace the rest of the soil, creating a gentle slope away from the plant. Rhubarb is hardy and takes to transplanting very well.
Water well after planting and keep the soil moist throughout the growing season. Rhubarb can be grown as an ornamental, if so let it flower. If you are like me and you are looking at the plant as a food source, then cut off flower shoots as they appear so the plant can put its energy into the vegetable stalks.
Rhubarb grows quickly once established and can become crowded. To rejuvenate the plants, divide by slicing through the crown with a spade.
Avoid harvesting the first year after planting, newly set plants need all their foliage to build a strong root system. Rhubarb is most flavorful in the spring, but can be harvested until the heat and dry weather cut production. Leave enough leaves and stalk for the roots to thrive.
Rhubarb freezes well and a couple plants will provide you with a choice of pie, jam, juice, cake, muffins, crisps, sauce and many other treats throughout the year. To freeze just wash stalk and dice. As most of my recipes call for 2 cups of rhubarb, I place two cups of diced rhubarb into a freezer container and freeze, no blanching needed.