Growing rhubarb is actually quite trouble-free and can be a welcome addition to your garden. You only need to follow a few basic procedures to properly cultivate this plant.
Where to Plant Rhubarb
The planting site should have full exposure to the sun. The soil pH level needs to be 6.0 to 6.8. The soil must also be well drained. Do not plant in heavy clay. The ideal time to plant is early spring, as soon as the threat of frost has passed. In milder climates, fall is the ideal season.
Planting the Rhubarb
The easiest way is to buy rhubarb plants from nurseries. Most of them will sell crowns or divisions though. These are composed of clumps of roots. Each clump will have buds. Buy as many as you need. Keep them in a cool place until you’re going to start growing rhubarb.
The planting bed is permanent. You won’t need to till it again and again. Before you start, make sure the place won’t be used for any other plants or vegetables. Dig a hole and put in lots of organic matter. Make a trench 2 ft across and 2 ft deep. Fill it up partly with rotted manure. Alternatively you can put in a mix of compost and soil.
Each plant needs 3 ft of space. The soil needs to be shaped into a mound. Put in the crown. When growing rhubarb, arrange the roots so it is all over the mound. Get the remaining soil. Cover it so the buds are buried some two inches deep. Firm up the soil.
Proper Care and Maintenance
The mulch should consist of grass clippings or compost. Apply them when the shoots appear. Each rhubarb plant requires an inch of water per week. Take out the seed stalks when they become visible. If you don’t, leaf stalks won’t come out.
During late fall, top dress it with some manure. Do this when the plants have dried. The top dressing should be applied again in the spring. This process should be done consistently.
When growing rhubarb, avoid harvesting during the first year. Just keep clipping off the flower stalks. Get the leaf stalks in the second year. They will appear in spring. Take only stalks the size of your finger. Leave the rest behind. On the third year you can collect as many as you want.
Warning: do not eat the leaves and roots. Only the leaf stalks are edible.
Pests and Problems
Mulch is the best weapon to use against weeds. It’s also a good deterrent against rhubarb curculio and the potato stem borer. You can use some insecticides to keep other pests at bay.
If you’re going to use a container, it needs to be 24 inches deep and 24 inches wide. The drainage must be good. Potting soil and compost must be a 50/50 mix. Water it often. Fertilizers should be given every two weeks.
Growing rhubarb is something anyone can learn to do. With perseverance and good management, getting the plants to bloom will be an achievable target.