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Orchid Lady

Hi All, 

A couple of quick questions;

1. How do I know when the rhubarb is ready to pick?

2. It is growing flowers.....more than last year!!   Do I just chop these off and do they harm the plant/rhubarb?

Pic below taken just now.

Thanks.


 

Hello

 

I cut off the flowers as they take energy from the plant. As for when to pick pull the stems when they are long enough to use --usually about a foot or more long.

I was always advised to stop pulling rhubarb in July so that the plant can build up strength for the next year

Orchid Lady

Thanks Colin......rhubarb and apple pie or crumble for tea then 

scroggin

Picked our first rhubarb of the year yesterday, my better half made a lovely rhubarb crumble for tea

As the others have said cut off the flower heads, I dont pull more than a 1/3rd of the stalks at one time and stop pulling about mid June to let the plant put its energy back into the crown for next yr.

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Orchid Lady

Ooh that looks good Dove and even better them it's a James Martin recipe.....double yum  We are just having plain old rhubarb and apple crumple I'm afraid, but we do have lovely Cornish ice cream to go with it.

Only about 1/3 of the stems were long enough to cut anyway, which is why I've mixed it with apple.

So do you just let the stems die after June/July?  Last year I cut some really late, about Sept and they are a bit tough then so. I made chutney.  I have never had my rhubarb start so early, I think it might be the BBF I fed all the plants with  

Dovefromabove

Yes, leave the stems after July - then as they die down the goodness goes back into the crown to build it up for next year - if you pick it for too long you'll just get weak spindly growth the following year and the crown won't increase in size.

I stop pulling mine May/June time as I encourage it to be early by using a forcing pot.  

flumpy1

is it true you should move your rhubarb every couple of years? my rhubarb went really limp last year

Dovefromabove

Last summer was very dry - I watered mine a lot.  Was yours thirsty?

flumpy1

i watered it a lot but it just went limp and very thin  so i have move it in hope it will do better this year , but i will keep my eye on it

scroggin

I would'nt move rhubarb so often flumpy, it can stay in the same spot but every 5-6 yrs depending on its vigour it is a good idea to split the crown.

At this time you can replenish the soil with lots of organic material and either increase your rhubarb patch or give sections of the crown away.

The normal time for this is around November, but can be done anytime between Nov and spring.

Splitting the crown regenerates vigour, without doing this the crop will start to fall off.

Orchid Lady

I have lived in this house 5 years in October and 'inherited' the rhubarb.  It has never been moved but since joining the forum I realise it needs splitting and possibly moving.  I am planning I doing that this November.

Is it right that when moved you shouldn't use the fruit the year after?

scroggin

Hi Tracey, its a good idea to give the rhubarb a years growth without picking any stalks so that the crown builds up its energy. Depending on its vigour you should only pick sparingly in the 2nd year too.

Its a good idea to have a few crowns so that you always have one available for picking and another for forcing(you should'nt force a crown in successive years).

I know with a small patch it can be difficult but its such a great crop that its always good to make room for it.

flumpy1
Thanks guys for all your advice i will take your advice and keep you posted .
Orchid Lady

Looks like I've found the rhubarb expert, I'll add you to my expert list Scroggin 

So, if I don't move the whole plant but split it and then use the one that hasn't been moved and leave the other, is that right? Unless I move some of my fruit bushes I don't realistically think I'll have room for another rhubarb plant. I was going to move them this year though but it was tiI Kate so that is still a possibility.

The other option of course would be to buy another plant now (or this year) and not use it and I can then use that next year.

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scroggin

Hi Tracey, not an expert by any means but have learnt through experience. When you divide the crown I would give all the plants a year before pulling, the crown will be all the better for it next year.

I'm lucky to have an allotment so space is'nt an issue and there are always other plotholders who have more than they need and its a good way to exchange plants to get new varieties.

 

Dovefromabove

Lots of mulching with FYM in the winter, and again in the summer after you've finished pulling stalks. 

Orchid Lady

FYM Dove?  I probably should do know that by now but by brain mustn't be working!!

What about buying a new crown this year, not pick it and will that be ok to use next year? That's what put me off splitting it this year as I don't want a year without rhubarb 

scroggin

Farm Yard Manure.

If you can get hold of a good healthy pot grown plant it will be ok to take some stalks from next year.

If it was me I would buy/beg a plant this year and leave it to establish, wait another yr to split your main plant(it wont hurt it) and then your new plant will be well established ready to take over.

flumpy1
Mmmmm rhubarb crumble with custard......no i coulnt do without rhubarb too : )