A little bit about Rhubarb
Rhubarb brings out the baker in all of us inspiring the most delicious crumbles, jams and pies. Thanks to it's impressive foliage and thick, red stalks it also looks great in the garden! It's one of the few perennial vegetables so use these growing tips to enjoy home grown deserts for three or four years.
Botanical name: Rheum rhabarbarum
Potential height: up to 1 metre
Toxicity: The large leaves are beautiful but shouldn't be included on the menu as they contain high concentrations of oxalic acid which is poisonous.
Ideal position: Plant in a sunny position or semi-shade. Some gardeners have found that rhubarb not only tolerates some shade but can grow longer stems than when planted in full sun. Second serving of crumble anyone?
Where to grow rhubarb: It can be grown in the ground or in a container but for best results plant 90 centimetres apart.
Interesting fact: Rhubarb stems tends to be a stronger colour of red in cooler climates but it's just as delicious (and safe) to eat green stems.
How to prepare for planting
Plant rhubarb from June to September either on the edge of your vegie patch or in a separate garden bed or container where it can happily live undisturbed for three to four years.
Feed your rhubarb with a liquid nitrogen fertiliser every four to five weeks from early spring through to autumn to maximise your yield.
In late winter, fork in compost or well-rotted cow manure in the soil around the plants to give spring growth a boost.
Rhubarb will grow best with regular watering but good drainage is important as it hates wet feet. Water deeply during hot periods to encourage stem growth.
Rhubarb is a relatively hardy edible to grow but can be affected by aphids, whitefly and caterpillars. Check foliage regularly and squash or squirt off aphids with a sharp jet of water and remove caterpillars. If needed try Yates Nature's Way Vegie & Herbs Spray according to instructions which is safe to use of edibles and controls aphids and whitefly.
Harvest during spring and summer and pick from the outside stems first. Remove stems cleanly with a quick downwards and sideways action. To keep the plant producing stems always leave the younger stems in the centre of the plant.
If any flowering stems appear cut off at the base and feed with a liquid nitrogen fertiliser to encourage more foliage and stem growth.