Rhubarb advice

Rhubarb advice

Harvest your rhubarb by the armful from this month onwards; a fully mature clump can keep you supplied with as many succulent, sweet red stems as you can eat from now until June, with plenty left over for the freezer!

You can start your season with ‘Timperley Early’, always first to reach maturity; then enjoy traditional varieties like ‘Victoria’, or more unusual choices like super-sweet ‘Champagne’ or upright-growing ‘Stockbridge Arrow’.

It’s not too late to plant rhubarb this season: pop into the garden centre here in and you’ll find plants ready to go straight into the garden, in a well-prepared spot in sun or light shade. Give it rich, moisture-retentive soil with plenty of organic matter added, and lots of room to grow – rhubarb can reach 1.5m across and tall when fully grown.

Leave your new rhubarb plants to establish for this year, then next year you can start picking your home-grown harvest. Never cut stems with a knife, as that could cause the end to rot back into the crown; instead, grasp each stem as close to the base as possible and pull it gently but firmly so that it pulls free at the base. You shouldn’t pick rhubarb after July as it needs time to develop a store of goodness in the roots for winter.

You can force rhubarb in late winter under a terracotta rhubarb forcer, available from our range of containers. In January cover the crown thickly with straw and pop the forcer over the top, with the lid closed. This encourages the stalks to grow earlier than they would do normally; in the dark, they become long, slender and very, very sweet. Keep lifting the lid of the forcer to check; they’re ready to pull once 30cm long for one of the most delicious of early season treats.