Sunday, June 9, 2013

Harvesting Rhubarb

Just like anything you grow in the garden, harvesting at the right time and the right way will go a long way. Rhubarb is not only easy to grow but extremely easy to harvest.

Rhubarb is a plant that provides you a great harvest without a lot of work. But you do need to be patient and here are some do's and dont's before eating this tangy plant.

Do not harvest your rhubarb the first year, give it time to establish a strong root system. The second year you can pick only a few stalks (stick to 2 larger stalks per plant.) But come the third year... it is harvest time!

The best time to harvest rhubarb is late spring all the way through summer.

To select a stalk for harvesting, look for one that is dark pink to maroon in color. The stalk should be 1/2 inch to 1 inch in diameter and firm.

To harvest rhubarb all you need is your hands. Hold the stalk as close to the ground as you can and gently twist the stalk until it is broken free. This twisting method of harvesting triggers the plant's roots to grow more. Never cut the stalk from the plant as you won't be encouraging future growth.

Continue to harvest the larger stalks until you have harvested only about 1/3 of the plant. Limiting your harvest will avoid shocking and stressing the plant.

Remove any flowering stalks from the plant. By doing this you re-focus the plants energy back to the root system.

Remove the leaves from the stalks by pulling off or cutting. The leaves of rhubarb contain Oxalic Acid which is poisonous and should never be consumed by you or your animals. The leaves are safe to be placed in the compost bin.

Watch for some tips on preserving and tasty recipes coming in the near future!