Sunday 16 May 2021

Rhubarb Rain God!

The Rhubarb Livingstone from D.T.Brown arrived a little earlier than expected, it's supposed to be dispatched week commencing this Monday, but it arrived Friday, in super condition and very well packed. The problem was I don't have the beds ready for the 3 plants!

So this morning between rain showers I visited the allotment dug and weeded the area where the first bed is going and got the first bed in place.

My sacks of manure still have not arrived, so Blood Fish and Bone, and a layer of freshly cut Comfrey before adding 60 litres of Clover compost to bring the level up in the 600x600mm square bed.

There are going to be 3 beds in a row but for now the other two plants have gone in the first bed and mini hoops and some debris netting has been added to protect the plants from the foxes. I just managed the one bed and three plants in before getting drenched in a heavy shower.
As I drove home I could see that it had not rained half way up the road from the allotment. I was dripping wet inside the car and the thought went through my head maybe I'm a Rain God!
It appears that after a very dry April, that May appears to think it's the new April and as much as I love the rain, I wish it would only happen over night.
All I know was that these last few days were miserable. All the clouds knew was that they loved me and wanted to be near me, to cherish me, and to water me.

Care and Cultivation of Rhubarb
(Guidance supplied with the plants by D.T.Brown)

What to do first

After unpacking, inspect your plants and crowns and water them if dry.

Plant as soon as possible but, if ground is not ready or is too wet or frosty, delay planting until the conditions are more suitable. Potted plants can be retained in their pots in a sheltered place for a while but check them regularly to ensure they do not dry out. Crowns can be temporarily `heeled' into a shallow trench on a spare patch of ground , covered entirely with moist soil,


Choose an open site in full sun or where there is no more than very light or partial shade .

Rhubarb will grow in almost any soil, provided it does nor become waterlogged in Winter, but best results will be obtained on fertile soils, so dig in plenty of well-rotted organic matter, like farmyard manure or green compost. Just before planting, rake in a dressing of balanced fertiliser, such as growmore, to help plants establish.

Set plants 900mm (3ft) apart each way and with the growing point 25mm (1 inch) below the soil surface. After refilling with moist soil, firm on each plant.

Rhubarb can also be grown in a large pot or container, splitting and repotting after several years. You will need to ensure the plants are kept well watered and feed more often than if grown in the garden.

Aftercare Tips

Keep plants free of weeds and water well in dry spells. Remove any flowering stems that may appear. Do Not pull any sticks in the first season and pull only lightly in the second year to allow the plants to establish and build up strong crowns.

harvest between April and early July, holding each stalk close to the ground and pulling upwards with a twisting motion. Never remove all the stalks; always leave at least four strong ones on each plant.

Rhubarb is a heavy feeder so apply a balanced fertiliser at the end of the harvesting period and mulch generously with rotted manure or compost during the winter.

For an early spring crop, strong plants ate easily forced by covering them in january with suitable containers, such as buckets, bins or large pots. Cover these, in turn with a thick layer of straw. Forcing has a weakening effect on crowns so do not force the same plants again for at least two years.

After several years of cropping, stems will tend to get thinner and yields will start to decline. When this happens, its best to lift plants, to divide crowns into pieces, each with at least one strong bud, and to replant these divisions, if possible, on a fresh site.

N.B. Rhubarb leaves are poisonous and must be removed completely from the stalks before they are cooked.

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