Your questions about rhubarb answered
Rhubarb is a staple crop of many allotments and garden veg plots, which is often inherited and frequently misunderstood. Here we answer some of your most commonly asked questions about rhubarb.
Is rhubarb a fruit?
No. Rhubarb is a vegetable. Although it’s usually treated like a fruit and made into delicious jams and conserves, or baked into tangy pies and crumbles.
How to grow rhubarb
While you can grow rhubarb from seed, most people choose to buy rhubarb crowns which are more reliable and quicker growing. Rhubarb crowns are supplied in their dormant state ready to plant right away in the autumn and winter months. Choose a sunny position with fertile, moist but well-drained soil, and dig plenty of well-rotted organic matter into the ground. Plant your crowns so that the growing tip is just visible above soil level, leaving two to three feet between plants.
How to cook rhubarb
To stew rhubarb, cut off and discard the poisonous leaves, cut the stems into chunks and place them in a pan on a medium heat. Scatter with sugar to taste, add a splash of water, and cover. Cook for about 8 minutes or until it’s tender but still holds its shape.
Is rhubarb good for you?
Rhubarb is very good for you. It’s high in dietary fibre and contains particularly high concentrations of vitamin K1, with 100g of rhubarb providing up to one third of your daily recommended intake.
When to harvest rhubarb
Early or forced rhubarb grown in the dark under a forcing jar, or large container, is ready to harvest at the beginning of March. For naturally grown crops, you should be looking to begin harvesting as early as March for some early cultivars or as late as May for main crop varieties. Start picking your rhubarb when the stems are at least 10" or 25cm long, harvesting steadily over a few weeks until you’ve taken between a third and one half of the stalks. Harvest younger plants more sparingly.
For more advice read our Planning A Fruit Garden Guide on our blog.