This spring we decided to get super serious about planting crops that will keep blessing us for years to come. One of those crops, by happenstance, was Rhubarb. In May, we found a total of 4 Victoria Rhubarb plants on clearance and brought them home to become part of our ever expanding homestead. We were thrilled to find started plants for $1 each, and we had just put in lots and lots of strawberry plants. Lots.
Rhubarb is a hearty perennial best suited for zones 3-7. Which we are in a modified zone 4. In order for these plants to thrive, they need a cold spell for winter rest and they also don’t do so hot in the heat. Long periods of temperatures over 90 degrees Fahrenheit will be devastating to the plant. The tart taste comes from the Oxalic Acid present in the plant which does reach toxicity levels in the leaves. This is why the leaves SHOULD NEVER be eaten. Although, Mother Earth News notes that the leaves are fine in compost or as mulch.
The first thing we did was pick a spot that we knew to be appropriate for rhubarb growth- well fertilized soil (thank you alpacas!), in a very sunny spot, at a bit of a slope to help with drainage. We then planted the four starter plants about a foot apart from each other in a single row. We know that they are supposed to be spaced much further apart, but we didn’t anticipate all 4 plants doing so well or growing so big. They were, after all, clearance bin plants that were fairly sickly looking when we picked them up for a buck apiece.
We watered them minimally throughout our very hot and dry summer. Other then that we kept the weeds out from around their immediate vicinity and did not pick a single stalk in order to let them just grow. They never actually went to seed, so we never had to remove those flower stalks. But we would have to encourage more root growth. That picture is about a week after planting and look at all that new growth!
We are happy to announce that, as of this fall, we are the proud caretakers of 4 huge and healthy Rhubarb plants.
For fall maintaince, we are going to harvest and freeze the rhubarb. New rhubarb growth in the spring is entirely dependent upon how strong the root/crown was. Leaving such a strong harvest seems like a crime, since it never sprouted any flower, and taking it will help keep the bed neat and free of mold or rot.
So now the wait until Spring, to see how well our effort will pay off.
Until next time, have a wicked good day!