How to Grow Rhubarb in Your Garden
Rhubarb is a really easy plant to grow in a cold climate, and generally, if you leave them in the ground after harvesting, they would grow back and keep growing for about ten or twelve years. It is quite easy to grow them, provided you follow a few general steps which would teach you how to grow rhubarb. You can even grow them in places where water is scarce because this plant does not need much caring, and all you need is a bit of water and fertilizer and a chance for them to grow on their own. So, if you would like to know how to grow rhubarb, then you should follow this post carefully. Remember, Rhubarb root and leaves contain oxalic acid, which is toxic, so eating them might cause you serious harm.
Growing rhubarb allows you to enjoy a harvest of tasty, richly-flavored, tender finger-size petioles, as the edible stalks are called. The stalks are fantastic in recipes such as pies, jam, bread, dumplings, cake and many more. It is quite common to grow both rhubarb and strawberries, preparing them together to create another tasty flavor. If you like the flavor of rhubarb, you’ll love growing it in your garden.
If you can, purchase rhubarb plants. These may be difficult to locate since many garden centers and nurseries offer only crows or clumps of roots with at least one eye. these root clumps are divisions of plants. Until you can plant your rhubarb crowns or divisions, place them in a cool location.
The History of Rhubarb
In early spring it’s always exciting to watch perennials emerging from the soil after their winter slumbers, but few plants stage as dramatic an entrance as rhubarb does, with its bold, intricately-crinkled leaves rocketing through their bud sheaths, then quickly unfurling to catch every available ray. Like corn, rhubarb is one of those plants that you can almost “hear” growing.
A member of the buckwheat (Polygonaceae) family, the genus Rheum contains about 50 species of herbaceous perennials native from Mongolia and Siberia west to Iran and Asia Minor.
While gardeners prize some members of the clan for their ornamental attributes (stately perennials like Rheum ‘Ace of Hearts’ and R. palmatum ‘Atrosanguineum’ for example), most of us grow the more common garden variety for its delicious leaf petioles (stalks) that are ready to harvest by early summer, long before other crops have ripened.
Garden rhubarb (R. ×hybridum) is an ancient, complex hybrid originating largely from R. rhaponticum, and to a lesser degree, R. palmatum. It was probably brought to Europe accidentally in place of medicinal rhubarb (R. officinalis), that has been cultivated for its root, which contains a purgative called chrysarobin.
By the Middle Ages, many species and hybrids were being grown across Europe, but it wasn’t until the late 18th century and the increasing availability of cane sugar that rhubarb moved from the medicine chest to the dining room table.
Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790) is often credited with introducing garden rhubarb to North America, but we should really thank the early settlers who brought plants with them from their homelands so that by the 19th-century rhubarb was a common crop from coast to coast.
These days, it’s available frozen at supermarkets throughout the year, but nothing beats harvesting your own fresh rhubarb, and happily, it’s quite easy to grow. (Click Next)