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How to force rhubarb


Forcing rhubarb by covering the crowns and preventing light reaching them, will encourage the plants to make early growth. These forced stalks can be harvested for use in cooking when they are 20cm - 30cm long and make a useful substitute for fruit when there is little else in store from the garden. Force the stems of established rhubarb plants only - young plants may not have sufficient energy reserves to produce early stems, and subsequent growth may be compromised.

How to do it


Clear around the base of a rhubarb crown, removing old leaves and weeds.Add a mulch of well-rotted manure or homemade garden compost to boost nutrient levels and aid growth.


Use a large pot, dustbin or decorative rhubarb forcer to cover the crown. Plug any holes to exclude light. In cold regions or to speed forcing, insulate the outside of the pot with a thick layer of straw or bubble wrap. 


The forced stems should be ready to harvest eight weeks after covering.Gently pull the stems from the base of the crown, and remove the poisonous leaves before eating.

Our tip

Avoid forcing a single crown of rhubarb for two years in a row. Leave it to crop naturally instead, and always have more than one crown so you can force in alternate years.

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Talkback: How to force rhubarb
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NJSK 24/11/2011 at 15:28

Can you force rhubarb that is less than a year old?

sharonwood 24/11/2011 at 15:28

i have been told you can not eat your first crop of rhubarb you have to wait untill your next crop is is true please help ?

plant 24/11/2011 at 15:29

why do you need to force rhubarb??????

mollyflower 24/11/2011 at 15:29

yes i agree with you kynanbytes!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

kynanbytes 24/11/2011 at 15:29

yes I've been wondering how to do that although its very early to do it now this is very useful

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