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Morning, and all of us in Iowa is watching the sky. Storm watches with severe to moderate. Temperature is 54 degrees at 7:45AM. That is warm, and that is what is going to make this day be active. Lots of moisture coming from the south, and a front coming from the west. Tornados, strong wind, large hail ….Just stay safe.
Is rhubarb a fruit or vegetable? Here is the care of rhubarb.
Planting, Growing, and Harvesting Rhubarb by The Editors
What grows for 10 years or more, suffers from almost from no pests, and is refreshingly easy to care for? It’s rhubarb! This perennial vegetable has tart-flavored ruby or green stems used to make pies, crumbles, jams, and sauces. Plant in early spring when the soil is workable. Learn everything you need to know to grow and care for your own rhubarb.
Rhubarb originally came from Asia. It was brought to Europe in the 1600s and to America not long thereafter. It thrives in areas with a cooler climate, making it popular in northern gardens. Rhubarb is easy to grow, but needs a dormancy period to really thrive and produce an abundance of huge stalks. Rhubarb does best where the average temperature falls below 40ºF (4°C) in the winter and below 75ºF (24°C) in the summer.
The stalks are the only edible part of the rhubarb plant. These have a rich, tart flavor when cooked. The leaves of the rhubarb plant are toxic. They contain an irritant called oxalic acid, so be sure that they are not ingested.
What’s wonderful about rhubarb is that it’s a perennial: It will produce for many years, five or more. For that reason, rhubarb should be planted in its own space in any corner of the garden where it can grow undisturbed. Rhubarb grows well in soil amended with plenty of well-rotted manure or compost; this has inspired some gardeners to just go ahead and plant it near their compost piles!
With its ruby or green stems and umbrella-like leaves, rhubarb also adds height and structure to your garden along with a splash of gorgeous color that will return year in and year out.
Rhubarb grows best in full sun, but will tolerate partial shade.
Choose a site with soil that is well-draining and fertile. Good drainage is essential, as rhubarb will rot if kept too wet. Mix compost, rotted manure, or anything high in organic matter into the soil. Rhubarb plants are heavy feeders and need this organic matter. Learn more about soil amendments and preparing soil for planting.
Rhubarb gets big! It can grow to 2 to 3 feet tall and wide. Make sure you choose a site where it won’t be crowded.
When to Plant Rhubarb
Rhubarb can be planted in late fall or in early spring.
In fall, plant rhubarb crowns after dormancy has set in, and you’ll have rhubarb cropping in the spring!
In spring, plant crowns as soon as the soil is workable, when the roots are still dormant, and before growth begins (or as plants are just beginning to leaf out). If you have a temperature gauge, soil temperature should be 50°F minimum.
Spacing for Rhubarb
How to Plant Rhubarb
Plant 1-year-old rhubarb crowns, which you can find at a garden center, nursery, or order online. Plants will be sold as bare-rooted specimen or young plants already growing in pots, ready for transplanting. (Rhubarb can be grown from seed, but this is not recommended.)
Before planting, eliminate all perennial weeds in the planting site.
Dig large, bushel-basket–size holes.
Space rhubarb plants about 2 to 4 feet apart and 3 to 4 feet between rows.
Plant crowns so the eyes are about 2 inches below the soil surface with buds facing up.
Water well at the time of planting.
Overcrowding is common problem with rhubarb and can lead to subpar growth. Dig and split rhubarb roots every 3 to 4 years. Divide when plants are dormant in early spring (or late fall). Divisions should have at least one large bud on them.
Mulch generously with a heavy layer of straw to retain moisture and discourage weeds.
Water your plant well and consistently. Rhubarb needs sufficient moisture, especially during the hot, dry days of summer.
Remove seed stalks as soon as they appear, as they will only drain energy from the plant that could otherwise be used for producing stalks or roots.
Each spring, apply a light sprinkling of a fertilizer (10-10-10) when the ground is thawing or has just thawed.
In the fall, remove all plant debris. Once your ground freezes, it’s best to cover rhubarb with 2 to 4 inches of an organic mulch, preferably well-rotted compost. By adding nitrogen to the soil, you’re preparing the rhubarb plants for a good spring season.
Do not harvest any stalks during the first growing season. Harvest sparingly in the second year. This allows your plants to become properly established.
After a plant’s third year, the harvest period runs 8 to 10 weeks long, lasting through mid-summer.
Harvest stalks when they are 12 to 18 inches long and at least 3/4-inch in diameter. If the stalks become thin, stop harvesting; this means the plant’s food reserves are low.
Grab the base of the stalk and pull it away from the plant with a gentle twist. If this doesn’t work, you can cut the stalk at the base with a sharp knife. To prevent the spread of disease, be sure to sanitize the knife before cutting. Discard the leaves.
Always leave at least 2 stalks per plant to ensure continued production. You may have a bountiful harvest for up to 20 years without having to replace your rhubarb plants.
It was once believed that the entire rhubarb plant becomes toxic as summer temperatures rose. This isn’t true, although summer-harvested stalks usually have a tougher texture than those picked in the spring. Nevertheless, after mid-summer, it’s best to leave stalks on the plant to allow them to gather energy for next year’s growth.
How to Store Rhubarb
Cut the rhubarb stalks and refrigerate in a covered container. Or, tightly wrap stalks in plastic or aluminum foil and refrigerate. Rhubarb can be kept fresh in the refrigerator for a couple of weeks.
Cut rhubarb stalks in pieces and place in a covered container or zip-type plastic bag, and put in freezer. Frozen rhubarb will last about a year.
WIT AND WISDOM
Rhubarb has many other uses, from medicinal to cosmetic. See how to naturally lighten your hair with rhubarb.
Taken from https://www.almanac.com/plant/rhubarb
Till next time this is Becky Litterer, Becky’s Greenhouse, Dougherty Iowa 641-794-3337 cell 641-903-9365
Hi! My name is Becky and I am a Master Gardener. I own Becky's Greenhouse in Dougherty, Iowa.