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Jun 4, 2013 09:42 PM


There is some discussion of growing rhubarb on the Home Cooking thread under the title Rhubarb is in Season. Lovely to put in a few rhubarb roots---feed your rhubarb bed and it will produce for fifty years. It's the taste of spring early-early, not really a fruit but tastes like fruit.

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  1. What do you feed your rhubarb bed with? Mine have been in the ground for about 15 years and have never really done much. The stalks are always very thin. Are you supposed to cut off the big shoot with the flower on top? Does that help the stalks thicken?

    7 Replies
    1. re: AmyH

      Don't know if it helps the stalks thicken but yes, you should cut off the flower shoot. Now if I could just remember why... :-)

      1. re: gimlis1mum

        Maybe the plant puts all its energy there. Some years I've cut it off, some years I've left it. It doesn't seem to make any difference in the stalks, though.

      2. re: AmyH

        I let my rhubarb transplants get overgrown with weeds. But what I was told by an old gardener was I should put a shovel full of composted manure on the plant every spring.

        This year, we weren't able to get our annual load of composted horse manure but I found a source close by. Usually I add an inch or two to my vegetable beds before I plant in the spring. The year I planted spinach before adding manure the plants still looked good but the same seed grown in a manured bed was outstanding (huge leaves). I have had good luck finding sources of manure of craigslist.

        1. re: dfrostnh

          Thanks. I do make my own compost but will have to find a source of composted manure. I wish my daughter still rode horses!

          1. re: dfrostnh

            Now you've got me reminiscing about when I was a kid and my grandfather would go get bags of elephant poo when the circus was in town. He had great rhubarb and other plants in the garden!

            1. re: AmyH

              Elephant is supposed to be the best!

          2. re: AmyH

            Yes, definitely cut off the stalks that flower. Why? Because my grandmother used to insist it was necessary, and because my mom and dad still insist as well ;-)

            Really, I know that those stalks become hollow as the flower, rendering them pretty much useless for cooking. It makes sense that the energy devoted to that process is likely more effective when devoted to growing more "fruit" stalks. As for how to fertilize and care for the rhubarb in my backyard, it never gets fertilizer (being just outside the garden, and the fertilizer zone), gets little irrigation when compared to the other plants (except the raspberries, next to the rhubarb), and is harvested with reckless abandon, knowing that it will grow back and flourish. The only time it suffers is when the raspberries go nuts and shade the rhubarb. Then I tie the raspberries in a direction away from the rhubarb, and all is green and abundant again. I think that as long as you are far enough north - and I only mean Ohio here - you almost can't kill rhubarb.