How to grow and harvest rhubarb? From planting the compote …


Growing rhubarb is easy. It allows you to harvest extra fresh rhubarb sticks for years with minimal maintenance. Plus, rhubarb compote is really easy to cook.

Edible rhubarb, often referred to in Latin Rheum x hybridum or sometimes Rheum rhabarbatum, is a plants hybrid selected probably from Rheum palmatum and Rheum rhaponticum. This genre includes about fifty species, some of which are very decorative and others, medicinal. Edible rhubarb has been selected to be digestible and particularly good in taste.

Besides its nutritional qualities, it is extra tasty when harvested and then cooked quickly. Planting rhubarb in your garden allows you to harvest for years, because it is a perennial and tolerant plant, almost indestructible.

It exists in various varieties: its rhubarb sticks can be green, red ‘Canada Red’, roses ‘Raspberry Red‘, green and red, or some will be earlier than others’Mikoot‘, giant’Golliath‘, where present other peculiarities such as Rhubarb’Glaskins Perpetual‘, which seem to renew its leaves all the time and which is therefore harvestable even in summer.

Depending on the rhubarb varieties, the acidity of the sticks is more or less strong.

What are the needs of rhubarb for it to be exuberant and productive?

Rhubarb likes a exposition sunny or partial shade, best shaded during the hottest hours.

She is very rustic, but can fear excess heat. It thrives in a variety of soil,humus to clayey, with a pH between 6 and 7.5, but especially appreciates rich and cool soils, even humid.

So to quickly obtain a beautiful rhubarb plant, you have to prepare a rich and deep soil for it, and keep it cool, even in summer, so mulch if necessary.

Before planting it: the earth is loosened in depth. If possible, the winter before, it will have already been enriched withfertilizer natural: manure or compost.

Then, each spring, from compost or well decomposed manure will be deposited on the surface around the rhubarb plant, because the export (or harvest) of a large part of its foliage each year will gradually impoverish the soil.

When to plant rhubarb in the garden?

Rhubarb is transplanted to the garden either in spring from March to May, or at the end of summer in September October.

Rhubarb plants are available in garden centers often in the spring. This is where you can choose to plant several different varieties. For a family, 3 rhubarb plants are already bringing a big harvest.

If you can get a rhizome shard from an acquaintance, it is even more convenient, as it is often bigger and produced faster.

Rhubarb picks up very easily anyway if it doesn’t suffer from drought.

Transplant the rhubarb

The planting hole is very wide in deeply loosened soil. Another handful of granulated manure or compost is thrown in.

Then, very important, a watering in the planting hole allows to keep a long moisture in the bottom, where the roots must develop.

The brilliance of rhizome is placed at the right height then covered with earth, the base of the leaves must be flush.

A new abundant watering on top of the ground helps to settle and expel air pockets.

Mulching deposited before summer prevents the soil from drying out. This developing rhubarb must not suffer from drought, it will need to be watered eventually during this first summer.

Planted in spring, a well-recovered rhubarb already makes a beautiful little dome of leaves in June. But you have to be patient, let it settle down: no harvest this year, this rhubarb needs its leaves to develop.

The following year we will be able to harvest.

In order for rhubarb to put all its energy into producing leaves, we can remove its flower stalks that appear around June, before it fully develops.

Otherwise, these erect flower stalks are quite decorative, and some consume them in buds, like a cabbagefleur.

How to harvest rhubarb?

The rhubarb sticks that we consume are the petioles of the leaves.

When the leaves are unfolded, harvesting is done by hand, pulling the petiole upwards with 2 hands, or with a knife by cutting at the base.

Harvesting is done as and when required, because if you can do otherwise, there is no need to weaken your rhubarb by removing all the leaves at the same time, and the interest of a garden is to have a fresh production. Moreover, even to make jams, it is less burdensome to make only a few jars at a time rather than a large quantity.

Rhubarb sticks are tender and excellent from April to June. In summer, on the other hand, these petioles become tougher, stung by insects and more fibrous. A second push of leaves often allows a second harvest in September.

Rhubarb compote

The sticks are stripped of their limbus (the flat of the leaf) and their basal rim, which is a little firm. Then, once washed, they do not need to be peeled.

They are simply cut off with a sharp knife.

The compote is done in a saucepan over medium heat. We do not add water, because the rhubarb is already full of it, but we sugar a little, at the rate of about 50 g of sugar for 8 sticks. This sugar melts rhubarb better on heating.

Fresh rhubarb cooks quickly, sometimes in under 20 minutes. You can see that it is cooked when all the pieces unravel with a spoon.

So, you have to taste the compote and adjust the sugar according to your taste to balance the sour taste and the sweet taste.

This compote is delicious hot or cold. Very sweet, it is absolutely excellent on a butter toast. It will keep for a few days in the refrigerator.

Other uses

Rhubarb is a fruit substitute in the spring. We can also make it a pie, a clafoutis, a crumble, jam, small puffs or an excellent ice cream. The cooking syrup from compote is sometimes used to add pep’s to cocktails.

Rich in fiber, rhubarb balances digestion. In large quantities, it can make a mild laxative. It is also a good source of vitamin K.


Source: Au Jardin, conseils en jardinage by www.aujardin.info.

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