Help with rhubarb

Discussion in 'Edible Gardening' started by D2DT1, Aug 13, 2021.

  1. D2DT1

    D2DT1 Apprentice Gardener

    Joined:
    Aug 13, 2021
    Messages:
    3
    Gender:
    Male
    Ratings:
    +2
    Hi All

    I inherited some well-established rhubarb plants when I moved to my house in January 2020. I don't know what variety they are but, over the past couple of summers I've had good crops. I think I probably started picking around the beginning of May this year and they're still producing plenty of sturdy stems. However, I've read that I should stop picking around the end of July to give the plant time to 'gather its strength' for the winter. I think that last year I picked some as late as middle of August with no obvious detrimental effect.

    So, I guess the 2 questions I have are
    1. when is the latest I should be picking? and
    2. what should I do with the plants at the end of the season (i.e., in preparation for winter)?
    Last year - around October - I had a gardener come in to get rid of an overgrown buddleia and he tidied up the rhubarb plants as well but I didn't really see what he did, other than to say that when he'd finished it looked as if he'd pulled all the stems, and suggested I cover the plants for the winter. I used an old dustbin and, if I recall, removed it around the end of January this year.

    Thanks in advance for any advice
     
    • Like Like x 1
    • Macraignil

      Macraignil Gardener

      Joined:
      Dec 25, 2019
      Messages:
      200
      Gender:
      Male
      Occupation:
      Avoiding getting fired.
      Location:
      Cork
      Ratings:
      +487
      I have had rhubarb growing since my parents had some and have always understood that harvesting was OK up until September but should stop then so some energy goes back to the roots as you mentioned. I don't ever take off old shoots as I think it is better just to leave the last of any energy in them go back into the roots. When the leaves have died down I just cover the plants with a good mulch of farmyard manure to break down slowly over winter and give them nutrients for good growth next year. I've also read that it can be a good idea to divide the crowns every few years to rejuvenate them but mine are too big to dig up that easily so I just cut off a few sections some years to share with other gardeners and the plants seem to be doing well. If you want to get a piece to grow on then you need one with a piece of root and a piece that has a bud like shape that will grow into a shoot and leaf in the new plant.

      Happy gardening!
       
      • Like Like x 1
      • D2DT1

        D2DT1 Apprentice Gardener

        Joined:
        Aug 13, 2021
        Messages:
        3
        Gender:
        Male
        Ratings:
        +2
        Thanks @Macraignil

        It seems to me that everyone has different opinions on how late we can harvest but at least the 'what to do at the end of the season' seems to be relatively consistent (I've asked this question on another forum and had similar responses).
         
      • shiney

        shiney President, Grumpy Old Men's Club Staff Member

        Joined:
        Jul 3, 2006
        Messages:
        52,398
        Gender:
        Male
        Occupation:
        Retired - Last Century!!!
        Location:
        Herts/Essex border. Zone 8b
        Ratings:
        +97,043
        My rhubarb patch is nearly 70 years old, is prolific and I do very little to it. Well established rhubarb is quite good at looking after itself. We are lucky as we are on clay soil which has a lot of nutrients in it but I still put garden compost around the clumps every year. I don't mulch or cover them in the winter as they are so well established that they don't really need it.

        I don't know how big your clumps are. As mine do so well I continue to pick through to October but always make sure there are some stems left to feed back into the plants. I only remove the stems/leaves when they have died down completely.

        So it really depends on how well established your plants are.
         
        • Like Like x 1
        • D2DT1

          D2DT1 Apprentice Gardener

          Joined:
          Aug 13, 2021
          Messages:
          3
          Gender:
          Male
          Ratings:
          +2
          Hi @shiney

          As I inherited them I don't know how old they are but they do look fairly established - they looked after themselves over the 2019/20 winter when the house was, for the most part, unoccupied.

          Looking at the stems this morning, it doesn't look to me as if picking maybe one more time would hurt; then I think I'll just let them be and put some compost on when they've 'died back' (if that's the right term)

          Thanks everyone for their help/advice
           
          • Friendly Friendly x 1
          • pete

            pete Growing a bit of this and a bit of that....

            Joined:
            Jan 9, 2005
            Messages:
            36,009
            Gender:
            Male
            Occupation:
            Retired
            Location:
            Mid Kent
            Ratings:
            +51,291
            When you pick don't take all the stems, so that a few are left on each crown.

            It's old joke, do you put manure on your rhubarb?
            Reply, no I normal have custard. :roflol::runforhills:
             
            • Funny Funny x 3
            • Black Dog

              Black Dog Gardener of useful things

              Joined:
              Feb 4, 2021
              Messages:
              448
              Gender:
              Male
              Occupation:
              It's a secret
              Location:
              Germany (Emsland, Zone 8b)
              Ratings:
              +865
              We usually don't pick them from July onwards. It's just common knowledge around here originating in older times, but we stick with it anyways.

              Don't pick all of those tasty stems and let the plant recover before plucking again. Other than that, just ignore them. Rhubarb roots go deeep. Some say it's more than five meters, but I guess ours is lucky enough to find out groundwater to bee pretty shallow. And since we live in an agriculturally rich region, there always seems to be enough fertilizer in the water from all those farmers dumping their manure in the fields.

              And regarding winter... Our plants survived a week at -20°C with as much as putting a don't into their growth. Also those big leaves are pretty effective in killing weeds. Slugs also don't like them. It's the perfect plant for gardening beginners.
               
            • shiney

              shiney President, Grumpy Old Men's Club Staff Member

              Joined:
              Jul 3, 2006
              Messages:
              52,398
              Gender:
              Male
              Occupation:
              Retired - Last Century!!!
              Location:
              Herts/Essex border. Zone 8b
              Ratings:
              +97,043
              I'm still picking and selling it. As long as they have plenty of water they keep going here. The rhubarb patch is close to the beans so gets watered regularly - when the sprinkler is on.
               
            Loading...

            Share This Page

            1. This site uses cookies to help personalise content, tailor your experience and to keep you logged in if you register.
              By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our use of cookies.
              Dismiss Notice