RHUBARB – HOW TO GROW IT
Did you know rhubarb is a herb? Well, it is something I have learned lately. To be honest I didn’t give it a thought what it was, I just enjoy eating the many dishes it can make. I have grown rhubarb before at our last house, and I have found it to be a very hardy plant - a great plant to grow if you feel your hands are not so green. This delicious herbaceous perennial can live for a number of years and it can be divided every 3 -4 years, ensuring it can last a lifetime.
Now is a good time plant rhubarb. During winter rhubarb can look like it is going to die, but once spring comes along it does bounce right back. In Australia during winter you can get Rhubarb crowns (the centre of the plant) and plant them in your garden. Rhubarb grows best in cooler climates, but can be grown throughout Australia.
How to grow
Rhubarb grows best in an open, sunny position in a wide range of soil types. When preparing your soil ensure the soil is well drained. Also it is time to get your compost and manure out, as rhubarb has deep roots that loves organic matter with a lot of nutrients. The ideal pH is between 5.5 and 6.5.
Taking a crown, cover with 5 – 8cm of soil, just letting the emerging shoot to come through the soil. If wanting to growing from seedlings, these are usually available from August to December from all good garden centres. Grow 8 – 10cm apart. When crowns start growing, it is best to give extra liquid fertiliser in the form of seaweed extract or carp.
Mulch the plants with well-rotted compost or manure. You may not have to do this, as we have had a bit of rain this winter, but water regularly when dry. In spring feed with a complete fertiliser
Picking the Rhubarb
Rhubarb should not be harvest until 12 – 18 months after planting, only taking a few stalks in its second season. In Autumn or Spring, you can pick the stalks from the outside as required. Hold the stems close to the base and pull sideways with a twist to pull the stalk away from the crown. Never overpick, as this can weaken the plant
Never eat the leaves as they contain toxic levels of oxalic acid. Only the stems of rhubarb are eaten. Oxalic acid is present in many vegetables in varying amounts and it forms salts when it binds with minerals such as calcium and magnesium, known as oxalates. It has been linked to kidney stones.
Do not allow the rhubarb to go into flower, otherwise this will reduce the amount of stems you will get the following year.
Pests and Diseases
As I said earlier Rhubarb is a very resilient plant, rarely is caused problems by insects and other pests. Snails may cause the odd damage and it may get fungal disease in more humid conditions. fungus diseases.
So why not give it a go. It will be worth having it in the garden and think of the many things you can make from desserts, to chutneys to even cocktails. I found this cocktail recipe on Martha Stewart Living http://www.marthastewart.com/ which is just lovely. A drink to impress your friends the next time they are around.
Rhubarb Fizz Cocktail
1 cup sugar
1 cup water
1 vanilla bean, split and seeded
1¼ cups fresh rhubarb, finely chopped
RHUBARB FIZZ COCKTAIL:
227g (8 ounces) gin
255g (9 ounces) rhubarb syrup
½ cup fresh lemon juice
340g (12 ounces) cold Prosecco
lemon to garnish
Add all of the ingredients to a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium heat, and let cook for 3 minutes, or until rhubarb is tender. I strained mine because I did not want the pulp in my drink. But you could simply remove the vanilla bean and call it good. Pour into a container and store for 1 week in the refrigerator.
To make the cocktail, put the gin, rhubarb syrup, lemon juice, and ice in a pitcher. Stir to combine. Pour into glasses filled with ice, and top with Prosecco and a lemon round. Cheers!
If you would like to have another rhubarb recipe check out our recipe GRANDMA’S BEST RHUBARD & APPLE PIE. If you have any questions on growing rhubarb or would like to drop us a tip, just comment below. We would love to hear from you.
Have a lovely earthly passionate weekend,
Attracta & the earthly passion team