Rhubarb…a uniquely tart and beautifully pink vegetable, which is more versatile than your traditional crumble and custard combination.
A quick online search will throw up countless delicious concoctions to make your mouth water. Rhubarb and goat cheese salad, crusted lamb with roasted rhubarb, rhubarb gin! It really is worth experimenting. Share your rhubarb recipes on our Facebook page. Show off your culinary skills and make our mouths water!
Rhubarb can be forced (grown under pots) for early harvesting, which is available from January to March, or grown outdoors for later harvesting, sold March until June. The stems of forced rhubarb are pale and tender in comparison to main crop rhubarb, and the flavour is more subtle. It should be cooked more gently.
At Country Garden Plant Centre we currently have for sale 4 varieties of outdoor grown rhubarb, at just £6.99 each. This is really excellent value for money when you consider the price of cut rhubarb in the supermarket, and that a good quality rhubarb plant should produce crop for 5 – 10 years.
The earliest variety, which is ideal for forcing. The stems are red.
One of the best known rhubarb varieties. The stems are pale pink and are tender and juicy.
This variety produces thick red stalks with a sweet taste, which are perfect for cooking.
This is a late season variety, with thick stalks which can be harvested well into the summer.
All grow to a height of approximately 50cm, and a spread of 75cm.
One of the most satisfying things about rhubarb is how easy it is to grow. Like most plants, it prefers a sunny spot. It will grow in most soils, but will appreciate the mixing in of compost and a mulch of well-rotted manure when planting. Water it well (always avoiding water logging). Resist the temptation to harvest the stalks in the first year, and you will be rewarded with a stronger plant and a higher yield in subsequent years.
To harvest, hold the stems close to the ground and pull upwards with a twisting motion. Remember that the leaves are poisonous due to the concentration of oxalic acid, and should never be eaten, although they can be composted. When harvesting never take all the stems, always leave at least 4. Cut the flower stem when it appears in order to avoid it taking energy from the plant. Do not remove any stems after July. Add a general purpose fertilizer once harvesting season is over.
So, now you know the basics get those hands dirty!