The first thing to always remember about the Rhubarb plant is which part you can eat and which part you can not eat. The Rhubarb Leaves are the poisonous part of the plant. The stalks are the part of the plant that is the edible part. A slice of strawberry rhubarb pie may be your idea of a delicious treat and the stalks can be part of a nutritious diet. A rhubarb stalk is a deep red vegetable that resembles celery. Rhubarb has been used for centuries for medicinal purposes. It can be eaten as a vegetable or taken in supplement form.
Rhubarb Victoria is one of the easiest Rhubarbs to raise from seed and can usually start to be harvested one year after sowing. It produces sweet, juicy, medium sized green stalks and greenish-red colored leaves. It is a popular variety being extremely productive for years. Seed may be planted in autumn or spring. Plants started from seed typically take two years to get a really good harvest, although in the proper climate satisfactory results can be obtained in one growing season. For the home gardener, rhubarb will tolerate a fair amount of neglect and still thrive, they are very tough plants. You will probably get a mix of plant colors ranging from green through pink with a few plants with red or partly red stems. When grown as an ornamental, the huge leaves topped with tall stalks of white flowers with a green tinge are quite impressive.
Sowing: Sow in late winter to spring or late summer to autumn The seeds are encased in a rather large paper-like shell. Soak the seeds in water for a few hours before planting. Plant the seeds in a peaty mixture or into peat pots to making transplanting them easier and then put them in a sunny window. Rhubarb seeds germinate quickly.
Position: Good garden drainage is essential in growing rhubarb, planting in raised beds helps ensure against rotting of the crowns. Crowns will have longevity of many years, but because of diseases and insects, it is normal to reset a bed after four to five years
Planting out: For spring sown seedlings, transplant outside when the plants about 3 to 4in tall. For autumn sown seedlings, plant them outside in early April, as the weather turns warmer. Use a mixture of 50% compost and 50% garden soil. Protect the seedlings from the bright sun. Be careful to not over water it as rhubarb can get root rot if the ground is too wet. Space (36in) apart. Much smaller will seriously crowd the plants, result in a diminished crop and increase the likelihood of spreading disease. A two to three-year-old plant can easily grow to 1.25m (48in) in diameter and 1m (36in) tall. Plant the roots with the crown bud 5cm (2in) below the surface of the soil. Dig the hole for the crown extra-large and mix composted manure or peat moss with the soil to be placed around the roots. Firm the soil around the roots but keep it loose over the buds. Water and fertilize the crowns after planting.
Harvesting: Remove the flower stalks as they are seen. During the first year of planting, the stalks should not be picked, since food from the leaves is needed to nourish the roots for the next year's growth. A light picking may be taken during the year following planting, following that: the entire plant may be harvested. When harvesting rhubarb, the first step is to cut the stalks at the soil line or simply pull them out individually. All of the stalks of a plant may be harvested at one time, or pulled out selectively over a 4 to 6-week period. After the stalks are cut, the leaves may be removed.
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