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Time to Force your Rhubarb

Rhubarb is a vegetable (not fruit) loved by many and extremely easy to grow as long as you give it the room.

Rhubarb can be grown from seed sown in April but it is much better to plant “crowns” to ensure a good strong plant and fruitful crop. You can expect to get 5 to 10 years from your plant so they are very good value. The only drawback is that you will not be able to pull your crop until the plant is a couple of years old so you need to be patient in the early days.

Plant crowns during November and December ideally, but you can plant up to March.

We are going to order two varieties for our allotment Rhubarb ‘Fulton’s Strawberry Surprise’ which was voted the best flavoured Rhubarb in the RHS trials and Rhubarb ‘Victoria’ which will be ready to pull after 2 years.

When planting choose a sunny spot in the garden or on the allotment and dress each year with well-rotted compost or farmyard manure. Every five years or so lift each plant, divide into three or four smaller plants and replant or give some to your friends or neighbours.

Rhubarb does not have many troubles but it may suffer from Crown Rot where the buds begin to rot and the sticks become thin and dull. There is no cure for this so you will have to pull up the plants and burn them, don’t replant Rhubarb in the same area. You may also see signs of Honey Fungus; white streaks in the dead tissue of the crown and orange toadstools around the plants. Dig out all the roots and burn.

The sticks, or stalks, can be left to develop for pulling between April and July or they can be “forced” from December or January to provide a crop in February or March.

To force your crop just cover the plant with a upturned bucket or large plant pot with the hole covered up, or invest in a Rhubarb Forcer for a more elegant look.