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Rhubarb  RSS feed

 
pollinator
Posts: 827
Location: Nevada, Mo 64772
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I’ve planted rhubarb several times. It tends to die in our hot summers or wet springs.

I finally have one plant that’s 2-3 years old. It was wilted all summer but looks good now. I also have three that were planted last Spring.

I know I can harvest some of the older plant but not how much. One site says leave 2/3 of mature plants and all of younger plants. Another site says they freeze down in the winter anyway, so harvest everything in the fall.  I’m not sure how late in the fall. I think they meant to pick even the little ones.  I know they do freeze down so maybe that’s right?

We could have a light frost tomorrow. Can they stand some frost? They are growing good now,  so I’d rather wait a few weeks.
 
pollinator
Posts: 553
Location: mountains of Tennessee
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They can handle frost but not long hard freezes. I don't harvest the smallest stalks but they will die off when it's time.
 
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Location: Kobe Japan
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I have had some hit and misses, pursavere and try different times of the year. Once established Rhubarb is the gift that keeps on giving in my opinion. A lot of sites say full sunlight but my most successful Rhubard is by a wall that gets sunlight most of the day but not all of the day. I found early spring good so it is well enough established for winter and I have covered my younger plants  with pots over the coldest months
 
Posts: 109
Location: France, Burgundy, parc naturel Morvan
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I've got three plants for years. Two are in full sun, i don't have to water them in summer, because they are in pond overflow area. One is in the shade against a north facing wall, that's the biggest one funnily enough. They love compost and manure.
Taking two third is a lot, i take half, but that's in spring when cooking a big batch.  I just pick leaves when i want some or if they start shading out surrounding plants i want to see growing.
Feel and look at the stems of the leaves, if they are rock hard, they're not as nice, they tend to get full of oxalate during the growing season, making them taste sour. Adding powdered chalk, just a pinch, balances out the sourness, as well as raisins or apple or whatever. Leave the young growth as well. They need the leaves to store energy for the winter.
In winter the leaves die, the new leaves hide close to the ground like a crop of salad, i cover them in straw or some other leave matter laying around. But our winters are not very hard.
 
Posts: 1989
Location: Kent, UK - Zone 8
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Hugo Morvan wrote:
Adding powdered chalk, just a pinch, balances out the sourness, as well as raisins or apple or whatever.



I'm going to HAVE to try this. Thanks
 
pollinator
Posts: 2068
Location: Toronto, Ontario
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I have some doubts about the full sunlight advice. While I have no doubt that in some cases it might be ideal, in my experience, I have found that the rhubarb that I don't tend at all but regularly comes up and produces all I could need happen on my fence line, and prolifically in areas where they are shaded out during the hottest part of the day.

I suspect that in some situations, rhubarb could adapt to full-sun, if there's enough water constantly available, but I think that keeping it in sun/shade transitional areas, where there's plenty of indirect and partial direct sunlight, it would be more tolerant of neglect.

Insofar as harvest and wintering goes, I would, as suggested above, monitor the turgidity of the stems, especially after the first mild frost. Also, mulch like crazy. I would make sure there's no less than three inches of good organic mulch around the crowns, and I would mound that up overtop of the cut ends of the harvested stalks in preparation for the snows.

I wouldn't worry about overmulching. I have had rhubarb push its way through two layers of plastic bag surrounding a forgotten bag of organic triple mix, after a cold winter where the ground froze solidly.

I love the stuff, particularly as an addition to pies and jams featuring the sweeter berries that I grow alongside them. Does anyone have experience using them in a savoury dish, like perhaps with butternut squash or tomato?

Great stuff here. Please keep it coming.

-CK
 
pollinator
Posts: 195
Location: Sask, Canada - Zone 3b
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Chris Kott wrote:I have some doubts about the full sunlight advice. While I have no doubt that in some cases it might be ideal, in my experience, I have found that the rhubarb that I don't tend at all but regularly comes up and produces all I could need happen on my fence line, and prolifically in areas where they are shaded out during the hottest part of the day.



In the way they propagate by seed, I've never seen a rhubarb takeover a plot of garden space in full-sun even when given the chance to. Propagation by roots/crowns though, and they have a much better chance to establish in a full-sun area. I've got one big one in the middle of my garden in full-sun, which I assume was grown from a crown long ago. Then once I took over the plot and stopped the rototilling, the birds must have scattered some of the seeds because now there are about 10 or so newly developing plants on the north side under a hedge row. There is even one that is 2 or 3 years old which has managed to grow 200ft away on the north side of a quonset in some tall grass.

From my experience with them, they definitely prefer partial-shade when given the opportunity.  

---

Ken W Wilson wrote:Can they stand some frost?



As for the freezing, just imagine rhubarb like beet tops or any other cold-hardy greens. In Central Canada, they can handle the early fall frosts without issue - even something like a surprise night of -4'C in early September. But once the temperature starts to drop consistently below freezing each night, they are done for the year.

Ken W Wilson wrote:Another site says they freeze down in the winter anyway, so harvest everything in the fall.



If your rhubarb was wilted all summer, and only one has managed to get to the 3 year mark so far, I'd only take small amounts as it likely needs to get it's taproot a little deeper into the ground. I wouldn't bother picking any of the smaller ones at all. Last year when we had an 85 day heat wave of 30'C+(90'F) weather, they were pretty much the only perennial that wasn't in distress, but these were also 10+ year old plants. If you can let them get well-established early on, in the future they will be able to handle all kinds of surprise weather without any issue, which is worth the wait.  

I don't really have a guideline for how much I pick, as I prefer pick a few stalks weekly in the early spring/summer to use with oatmeal or for a pound cake. By fall I have way too many other things to harvest and put away to even think about the rhubarb.
 
Mike Barkley
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Location: mountains of Tennessee
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My first experience with rhubard was in northern Minnesota. It had been planted at least 5 years earlier & not touched since. Most likely in well prepared beds of well composted mix of hay & cow manure. It was an abandoned dairy farm & there was a small mountain of that available. Everything I tried to grow in that was amazing!!! Grew broccoli larger than a basketball. There was about a dozen rhubarb plants & they were roughly 4 or 5 feet tall with huge leaves & stalks. It was a mostly sunny location. It gets very cold there all winter but not too hot for long periods of time in summer. Will try to dig up the pix soon.

Have had fairly good success with them in TN. Full sun. Not severe winter or summer. It gets cold & hot but not brutal. Basically moderate temps with good rains all year long. I moved them to a different location this spring & did several divisions in the process. All have survived. They suffered some more this year because Seminole pumpkins & beans overgrew them & stole their sun. Last month I removed the beans & moved the pumpkins out of their light. They will get better treatment next year.

Rhubard is excellent with blueberries. Especially in cakes & pies. It saves for a long time in the freezer but it does lose it's crunchiness.


 
Mike Barkley
pollinator
Posts: 553
Location: mountains of Tennessee
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Add a big handful of blueberries too. Trust me on this:)


Ingredients
1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for baking dish
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups sugar
1 large egg
2 cups chopped rhubarb
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Directions
1. Step 1
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 9-by-13-inch baking dish; set aside. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, and salt; set aside. In a liquid measuring cup, combine buttermilk and vanilla; set aside.
1. Step 2
In the bowl of an electric mixer or using a handheld mixer, beat butter with 1 cup sugar until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add egg, and beat to combine. Add the flour mixture, alternating with the buttermilk mixture, and starting and ending with the flour mixture. Stir in rhubarb.
1. Step 3
Spread batter evenly into prepared baking dish. In a small bowl, stir together remaining 1/4 cup sugar and cinnamon. Sprinkle cinnamon sugar evenly over batter. Bake until a cake tester inserted in center of cake comes out clean, about 35 minutes.
1. Step 4
Let cool on a wire rack in pan for 30 minutes before serving.
 
Ken W Wilson
pollinator
Posts: 827
Location: Nevada, Mo 64772
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Thanks, everybody!

I used to have a great recipe for rhubarb raisin pie, but I’ve lost it. Does anyone have one? I’ve made it without a recipe. It was OK, but not the same.
 
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Hot tip:

When stewing rhubarb, if you have it, use honey instead of sugar. There is some kind of synergy goes on between the two ingredients that I cannot reproduce with sugar be it raw, fresh pressed juice, or processed. The rhubarb should still be tart so it offsets other sweet things like custard, ice cream, sweet pastry, crumble etc.

My favorite is simply custard and rhubarb. It's so quick and easy. But here in NZ we have pastured milk for the custard, manuka for the honey... I have international guests at times they lose their cool over the food I prepare them from local sources. Homegrown is a large part of it. However, if your condiments are rubbish you are downgrading the entire meal. Rhubarb is a hipster ingredient round here, making its way into yoghurts, ice creams etc now.

I always wondered if it was shade tolerant with those large leaves. Now I know, thanks for all the info folks.



 
Posts: 582
Location: In the woods, West Coast USA
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Be careful about eating the leaves, they aren't safe.  This is from Wikipedia

Rhubarb leaves contain poisonous substances, including oxalic acid, which is a nephrotoxic and corrosive acid that is present in many plants. Humans have been poisoned after ingesting the leaves, a particular problem during World War I when the leaves were mistakenly recommended as a food source in Britain.[36][37][38] The toxic rhubarb leaves have been used in flavouring extracts, after the oxalic acid is removed by treatment with precipitated chalk (i.e., calcium carbonate). Oxalic acid can also be found in the stalks of rhubarb, but the levels are too low to cause any bodily harm.

Rhubarb damaged by severe cold should not be eaten, as it may be high in oxalic acid, which migrates from the leaves and can cause illness.[9]

The advocate of organic gardening Lawrence D. Hills listed his favourite rhubarb varieties for flavour as ‘Hawke's Champagne’, ‘Victoria’, ‘Timperley Early’, and ‘Early Albert’, also recommending ‘Gaskin's Perpetual’ for having the lowest level of oxalic acid, allowing it to be harvested over a much longer period of the growing season without developing excessive sourness.[19]

The following cultivars have gained the Royal Horticultural Society’s Award of Garden Merit:-[20]

   ’Grandad’s Favourite’[21]
   ’Reed’s Early Superb’[22]
   ’Stein’s Champagne’[23]
   ’Timperley Early’[24]
 
Mike Barkley
pollinator
Posts: 553
Location: mountains of Tennessee
106
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Well, since Cristo brought it up ... I have started growing plants (there are many) that contain oxalic acid around bee hives. Oxalic acid is an ingredient used to make some bee pest treatments. I use more natural techniques. I always grow those veggies somewhere, might as well be around the bees. Not sure if it actually works but I'm in the process of finding out.
 
Posts: 261
Location: West Midlands UK (zone 8b) Rainfall 26"
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Rhubarb originates in Siberia.  Not sure what it would think of Nevada.
 
Ken W Wilson
pollinator
Posts: 827
Location: Nevada, Mo 64772
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I’m actually in Nevada, Missouri. It’s about 90 miles south of KC. Our summers do get hot though.

 
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