How to Grow Rhubarb

Man wearing an apron harvesting fresh rhubarb in a garden.

Rhubarb is a unique vegetable that is typically used in desserts, such as pies and crisps, but can also be used in savory dishes. It has a tart flavor that pairs well with sweet flavors, and is a popular choice for springtime treats. In this article, we will cover the basics of how to grow rhubarb and get the most out of your harvest.

Planting instructions: Rhubarb is a perennial vegetable that prefers a cool climate. It can be planted in the spring or fall, and requires full sun to partial shade. The soil should be well-drained and rich in organic matter, with a pH between 6.0 and 6.8. Rhubarb plants should be spaced 3-4 feet apart, with the crowns planted 1-2 inches below the soil surface.

Food. Delicious garden rhubarb on the table

Watering requirements: Rhubarb requires consistent moisture, but does not tolerate standing water. Water deeply once a week, and more frequently during hot, dry weather. Mulching around the plants can help retain moisture and keep the soil cool.

Fertilizing tips: Rhubarb does not require a lot of fertilizer, but can benefit from an application of compost or well-rotted manure in the spring. Avoid using high-nitrogen fertilizers, as this can encourage excessive leaf growth at the expense of the edible stalks.

Pest management: Rhubarb is generally resistant to pests and diseases, but can occasionally be affected by slugs, snails, and aphids. Handpicking pests and applying insecticidal soap can help control infestations.

Disease management: Rhubarb can be susceptible to crown rot and fungal diseases, particularly in poorly drained soil. Planting in well-drained soil and avoiding overhead watering can help prevent these issues.

Harvesting instructions: Rhubarb can be harvested in the second year after planting, and every year thereafter. Stalks should be harvested by twisting and pulling them from the base of the plant. Avoid cutting the stalks, as this can damage the crown and reduce future yields. Stalks should be harvested when they are at least 12-18 inches long and have a diameter of 1 inch or more.

Storage tips: Fresh rhubarb can be stored in the refrigerator for up to two weeks. It can also be frozen for later use. To freeze, cut the stalks into 1-inch pieces and blanch in boiling water for 1-2 minutes. Drain and cool, then pack into freezer bags.

Top Varieties to Grow: Some popular varieties of rhubarb include Victoria, Canada Red, and Valentine. These varieties are known for their flavor and yield.

Rhubarb is a versatile vegetable that can be used in a variety of sweet and savory dishes. Some popular recipe ideas include rhubarb pie, rhubarb crisp, rhubarb sauce, and rhubarb chutney. It can also be used in savory dishes, such as rhubarb barbecue sauce or rhubarb salsa.