Though a vegetable,
rhubarb is always used as a fruit. As it can be
forced during winter in warmth or in the open,
it is one of the most valuable crops, and the
first outdoor rhubarb always enjoys a welcome.
Again, it may be grown in a shady corner where
little else will grow. It will also grow well
in any soil. It requires plenty of humus to maintain
summer moisture and for it to make those thick,
juicy sticks so much in demand for stewing or
for pies and tarts. So dig in plenty of farmyard
manure or shoddy or garden compost and give the
roots a mulch in summer.
Rhubarb roots or thongs must contain an ‘eye’
which will produce a stick. Without this there
will be no plant. The roots are planted any time
from late October until January whilst dormant,
for they begin to grow with the first warm spring
sunshine. Plant 60cm (2ft) apart with the ‘eye’
or bud just below soil level, but make the hole
deep enough to take the long root.
At planting time, give a 132g per sq m (4oz per
sq yd) dressing of basic slag, which rhubarb loves
for it releases its nitrogen content over a long
Pull no sticks the first year and only a few in
the second year. By then, the roots will be established
and a dozen sticks or more can be removed in the
After four years, the roots will have grown to
45cm (18in) across. To prevent them becoming too
hard and woody, lift in winter and divide with
a knife or spade, remembering that each piece
of root must have at least one ‘eye’.
Treat the cut parts with lime or flowers of sulphur