Rhubarb masterclass: best expert content

Red stems of rhubarb on a wooden table

Rhubarb stems are delicious in crumbles, jams and tarts
Image: Rhubarb ‘Fulton’s Strawberry Surprise’ (Spring/Autumn Planting) from T&M

Rhubarb is a delicious, perennial crop that’s easy to grow in gardens and allotments. Planted in autumn or spring, the brightly-coloured and tart-flavoured stems quickly grow to produce fantastic crumbles, jams and seasonal drinks! Here we’ve pulled together some of the best advice from independent bloggers, YouTubers and Instagram gardeners to help you plant, divide, force and harvest your crop for optimum results.

Ready to get planting? Browse our full range of rhubarb crowns and plants to find the best variety for your garden.

Ben Vanheems – GrowVeg

Man standing in front of rhubarb beds

Plant your rhubarb in moist, fertile ground
Image: GrowVeg

Proper soil preparation is the most important part of starting off your rhubarb,” says Ben Vanheems at GrowVeg’s YouTube channel. He digs over the ground and adds organic, well-rotted manure to give his hungry rhubarb plants plenty of fuel to grow. Add a generous layer every autumn to keep your plants happy, he says. Watch his excellent ‘Planting to Harvest’ video for full information about growing this Victorian favourite.

Claire’s Allotment

Woman on allotment holding potted rhubarb plant

Claire includes a mixture of different rhubarb varieties in her grow space
Image: Claire’s Allotment

Claire’s magic ingredient for great rhubarb is manure, too! She adds plenty to feed her rhubarb plants to encourage lots of healthy growth. Her top tip for planting? Give each of your plants a good couple of feet around them because they spread out as they grow, she says. Visit Claire’s Allotment to watch her video as she plants a new variety into her rhubarb patch.

Huw Richards

Rhubarb seeds on compost

With a little bit of time, you can successfully grow prolific rhubarb plants from seed
Image: Shutterstock

If growing rhubarb from seed, sow a few more seeds than you need, says YouTuber Huw Richards. Any spare plants are great for sharing with friends or selling for a bit of extra pocket money. Use an even mix of compost and garden soil and sow your seeds a centimetre deep in modular trays, he says. Although it takes a little longer to get an edible crop, you should have young plants with strong roots in a year’s time! See how Huw starts his rhubarb from seed in his quick video.

Tony O’Neill – Simplify Gardening

Man showing rhubarb growth in allotment

Tony’s rhubarb plants put on lots of healthy growth
Image: Simplify Gardening

Rhubarb plants require huge amounts of water, so plant them next to a water container and it’ll save you a lot of work,” says YouTuber Tony at Simplify Gardening. Choose a moist area to plant them, like next to a water butt, and they’ll happily soak up any overspill. Find out how to divide your rhubarb plants to give you excellent results in Tony’s other helpful video, ‘Splitting & Transplanting Rhubarb For A Great Harvest’.

Richard – Sharpen Your Spades

Well-established rhubarb plant producing loads of stems

A well-established rhubarb plant can be very productive
Image: Rhubarb ‘Sanvitos® Summer’ from Thompson & Morgan

It’s a perennial, and once you have planted it or inherited it, you have it for good,” says Richard at his popular blog Sharpen Your Spades. It’s really important not to harvest your stems until their second year so that your new rhubarb crowns have time to establish properly, he says. One or two plants should be enough! Check out Richard’s full article to learn more about growing this British classic.

Kris Collins – Thompson & Morgan blog

Rhubarb growing in black plastic pot against fencing

Rhubarb ‘Thompson’s Terrifically Tasty’ produces extra early stems
Image: Rhubarb ‘Thompson’s Terrifically Tasty’ from T&M

The best rhubarb variety for forcing is ‘Thompson’s Terrifically Tasty’, says T&M’s own horticultural expert Kris Collins. Forced crowns can crop as early as December, so it’s a great choice for anyone who loves a winter crumble, he says.This variety even outcompetes those grown in the ‘Yorkshire Rhubarb Triangle’, an area that has become famous for producing the very earliest forced rhubarb crops. Learn more about his rhubarb trial over at the Thompson & Morgan blog.

Michelle – Veg Plotting

Rhubarb growing under hay on ground

Rhubarb starts to sprout in spring
Image: Veg Plotting

Have you ever heard of the rhubarb triangle? It’s the traditional home of early forced rhubarb in Yorkshire, explains blogger Michelle at Veg Plotting. Keen frosts in this part of the world provide the cold snap required before the rhubarb crowns are moved into special forcing sheds around Christmas. “The plants produce lashings of tender pink sticks ready for eating from January through to March,” she says. Read her interesting post and discover some excellent seasonal recipes to transform your own tender rhubarb crop.

August – @augusts_garden

Woman holding harvested rhubarb stems

There’s a difference in the flavour of forced rhubarb stems
Image: @augusts_garden

Why do people force their rhubarb to come early? It’s sweeter and full of antioxidants, says Instagram gardener August. But if you do, “make sure you alternate the crowns you force as it takes a lot of energy from the plant, so it’s good for it to have a rest the next year,” she says. Take a look at her full post over at @augusts_garden to see how she forces her early rhubarb for an extra tasty treat.

Marie – Plews Garden Design

Closeup of rhubarb leaves

Rhubarb leaves are toxic, so add them to the compost after harvesting your stems
Image: Plews Garden Design

There are two key stages to forcing early rhubarb, says Marie at Plews Garden Design. Firstly, the crowns need to be exposed to a period of cold to help them become strong enough to start growing. Then, as soon as they show signs of growth in winter, cover the developing shoots with a pot to exclude light. If you want to enjoy the sweet, delicate stalks as early as possible in spring, read Marie’s full article: ‘Rhubarb – Growing Your Own Rhubarb Triangle’.

Adam – Carrot Tops Allotment

Holding stalks of Champagne Rhubarb

Harvest your rhubarb stems in spring
Image: Carrot Tops Allotment

When harvesting rhubarb you want to be sure to pull stems out of the crown of the plant,” says Adam at Carrot Tops Allotment. Do this by pulling the stem up in the direction of growth, he says. “You’ll know when you’ve done it right because of the sound – you’ll hear a nice, light, suctioned crunch.” Avoid cutting or snapping the stems when you harvest your rhubarb because this can cause rotting in the crown.

Julia Frey – Vikalinka

Pink rhubarb curd with whisk

Whip up your rhubarb into a delicious curd
Image: Vikalinka

Looking for a fresh way to enjoy your rhubarb harvest? Visit Vikalinka and have a go at Julia’s rhubarb curd recipe. She uses this mouthwatering curd to take her Victoria sponge cake to the next level! “It’s easy, delicious and crazy refreshing,” she says. Check out her excellent blog for more rhubarb recipe ideas.

Sue Sanderson – Thompson & Morgan blog

Harvested rhubarb stems. Variety 'Goliath'

Keep your rhubarb healthy and you’ll be rewarded with lots of tasty stems
Image: Rhubarb ‘Goliath’ from T&M

Crown rot may be a problem, says Sue Sanderson at Thompson & Morgan’s blog. “The best thing to do is act quickly and cut away any affected areas of the plant. Don’t be afraid to cut into healthy plant tissue – it could save the whole plant,” she says. Read Sue’s article ‘How to grow rhubarb’ for a complete guide to keeping your rhubarb disease-free all year round.

Adam – The Grey Gardener

Man splitting rhubarb plant with spade

Rhubarb is tough enough to split with a spade
Image: The Grey Gardener

Divide your rhubarb every five years to keep it healthy, says YouTuber Adam at his channel The Grey Gardener. Make sure you do this between autumn and spring while your plant is dormant to avoid damaging leaves or stems, he says. Watch as Adam splits one large clump into five new plants in his clear and helpful video.

We hope we’ve inspired you to make rhubarb a part of your veg patch! Although it’s technically a perennial vegetable rather than a fruit, we tend to think of it as a sweet treat rather than a savoury snack. Visit our rhubarb hub page if you want to learn more about this quintessential British fruit.

Published at Tue, 27 Sep 2022 05:08:55 -0400

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