Quick rhubarb question

fearlessemApril 24, 2008

Hey all --

I've got a rhubarb question... I planted it last year for the first time, and thanks to some very manure-enriched soil, it got ENORMOUS. I know that most people think of Rhubarb as a spring crop, but it had tons of huge stalks on it all summer. Is there any reason why I couldn't harvest some of it later in the summer? Does it get bitter or something like that?

Thanks in advance,


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readinglady(z8 OR)

Depending upon the weather, I've been able some years to harvest into late September/early October. I do hit a point very late when the rhubarb starts to get stringy and I quit using it, but if the rhubarb is well-fed and there's good moisture in the soil you can easily harvest all summer.


    Bookmark   April 24, 2008 at 10:47AM
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Yay! Thanks for your quick reply Carol! Its funny -- everyone said just one or two rhubarb plants would be enough, but I'd never seen them full size before planting them... So of course, in my more-is-better philosophy, we planted 7 of them! Now we basically have a rhubarb hedgerow! I'm glad to hear we can harvest throughout the summer...


    Bookmark   April 24, 2008 at 10:54AM
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ksrogers(EasternMass Z6)

Given a good soil, rhubarb leaves can get to 20 inches across or larger. I used to gorw it and when it got to the hot of July the leaves would wither, so I stopped pulling stems off.

    Bookmark   April 24, 2008 at 1:00PM
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gran2(z5 INDIANA)

Do you have lemon balm in your garden? It's wonderful with rhubarb. If you chop up 8 or 9 leaves of lemon balm, you can cut back as much as 25% on the sugar in your recipe. It also gives it a lovely little "pucker" flavor. Also goes with berry recipes, but the rhubarb makes the most difference. When I freeze rhubarb, I always enclose a few sprigs of lemon balm in the bag.

In Indiana, we have a little trouble with the 'barb getting dry, even though it looks big and ready to harvest.

    Bookmark   April 27, 2008 at 11:57PM
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I live in Camp Verde, Arizona at 3600 feet elevation. Our temperatures in the winter can get down to the +15 Degrees Farenheit and in the summer up to 110 Degrees Farenheit. I've planted some Ruby Rhubarb last year. This year, the plants are very vigorous and the stalks are starting to turn a beautiful red. The entire stalk is not red yet. Can these stalks be harvested or should they be red all the way to the base of the leaf from the base of the rinzones? In other words, should the entire stalk be red. I'd appreciate your input as I have never harvested rhubarb before. Thanks much.

    Bookmark   June 15, 2009 at 9:08PM
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ksrogers(EasternMass Z6)

The red color is only for a few types of rhubarb. I grew one that had no red at all and one that had red only in the middle of the stems. Yours is fine to harvest once the leaves have fully opened. To harvest, firmly grasp the stalks near the base and pull diagonally (back and forth) to break them loose from the crown. Never use the leaves but dispose of them, but not into a compost pile.

    Bookmark   June 16, 2009 at 1:52PM
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If you want fresh, tender rhubarb later in the season, just cut it back to the ground, then water a LOT and fertilize copiously (it especially likes composted manure). I've found I can do this as late as mid-August here in Michigan without compromising the health of the plant or its ability to overwinter and come back full-strength the next year. It grows out again very quickly -- you'll be harvesting about 3 weeks after you cut it back.

    Bookmark   June 16, 2009 at 3:24PM
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Em, You are in my zone 5. Rhubarb is a late spring, early summer crop here. If you planted the rhubarb last year, you may pick one or two from each plant as long as there are at least 5 leaves on each. You may cut anytime before it starts going to seed. Sort of like cutting two year old asparagus plants.

    Bookmark   June 16, 2009 at 3:49PM
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flora_uk(SW UK 8/9)

Just to put one point straight. While it is poisonous to eat rhubarb leaves they are perfectly safe to compost. I'm afraid that one is a myth.

    Bookmark   June 16, 2009 at 4:41PM
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zabby17(z5/6 Ontario)

I want to second flora's comment. I've been composting rhubarb leaves for years and using the compost on my tomatoes.

And to thank gran2 for the lemon balm hint --- I have plenty of it, and use it in lots of ways, but never thought of including in rhubarb recipes. Will have to try!


    Bookmark   June 18, 2009 at 11:18AM
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Oh I am so glad to hear I am not the only nut case who put in 7 rhubarbs for a family of two! I just put them in last Feb. and already I have had several pies! There must have been something magical in this soil. We have rhubarb stems as thick as my wrist. Sunflowers 12 feet tall and tomatoes over 5 feet and covered with green tommies! I put in some lemon balm for the nice smell. So glad to hear there is a symbiotic relationship there!

    Bookmark   June 26, 2009 at 12:37AM
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Any other ideas on getting rhubarb to flourish? I have two 4 yr old plants and they survive each year, but seem to suffer from a failure to thrive. They get plenty of sun...and get regular water. This year they received a covering of compost. I've also tried bone meal. The tomatoes just a yard or so over go gang busters, so I can't figure out whats going on.

    Bookmark   June 27, 2009 at 12:32PM
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ksrogers(EasternMass Z6)

Bone meal is only Phosphorous. If you want healthier plants, add a balanced slow release fertilizer instead, something with a higher amount of nitrogen. Tomatoes will flower more with bone meal and its use is great for root crops.

    Bookmark   June 27, 2009 at 1:18PM
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Ken - Yes, Have done that - Osmocote.

    Bookmark   June 28, 2009 at 12:51AM
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