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Forcing Rhubarb?

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Pixiechic
Pixiechic Posts: 801 Forumite
edited 13 February 2011 at 2:54PM in Gardening
Hello,

I have a rhubarb plant in the garden which I have inherited from the last resident. Last year I was fortunate enough to harvest some lovely rhubarb and made a crumble from it. It was delish!
I didn't get much more rhubarb from the plant though. I have no idea how old it is and the stalks that I get are quite thin. I removed the stalks carefully and in the right way! I know that when they get older they need to be split but I am not sure how I work that out? I am not the most greenfingered of people so I fear that in splitting it I might just kill it off. Not sure either regarding when I aught to do it.
On the RHS website they advise 'forcing' it. I have got a black bucket and I have put some old fleece in it as I don't have the straw that was advised. I figured that the fleece would be adequate for warmth? Anyway, the RHS website says that a crop should emerge about 3 weeks earlier if forced. So, does that mean that after three weeks I should remove the bucket? Do you just force it for three weeks and then leave to continue as usual? Or do you keep forcing it?
If anyone has any advice it would be greatly appreciated. The old gentleman whom I have inherited this from spent a lot of time in the garden and has made it a lovely place to be. I am anxious that I look after what is here and not go round killing everytHing off with my ignorance!

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  • Farway
    Farway Posts: 13,339 Forumite
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    If you force rhubarb it weakens the plant, so no you cannot keep forcing it

    You remove bucket, inspect the stalks, if OK size for eating then use them, but do not keep forcing it

    You will then have to leave the plant well alone all this year to allow it to recover

    If I were you, and given your lack of knowledge, I would leave well alone and let plant grow normally

    Did you denude the plant year? Did you stop picking in July?
    If you took all, or nearly all, the stalks in one go you will have weakened plant, hence the thin stalks

    Now is time to get some more tubers, look in Wilkinson's they have them at under £2, plant now, but just leave then alone this year to let them settle in

    If you come across rotted horse poo use you black bucket to chuck a bucketful on the rhubarb, it will produce better results than forcing it believe me
    Eight out of ten owners who expressed a preference said their cats preferred other peoples gardens
  • Pixiechic
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    Thank you Farway, I will go and remove the bucket!
    I didn't take all the stalks last year, I only took the smaller thinner ones and left the bigger ones to keep going. It didn't produce much therefore did not take much as I was worried that it wouldn't survive.
    I will get some more tubers at wilkinsons, I love that shop for gardening things! I can get some horse manure too which I hope will help it out a bit. How often should I put the horse manure on it?
    Thanks for your advice and I will now go and remove the bucket! :)
  • TonyMMM
    TonyMMM Posts: 3,388 Forumite
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    You won't kill it by splitting it ... dig it up - cut it into chunks with a spade - as long as a piece has a bud on it it will regrow. Throw away the old centre part of the root , and replant the pieces in soil you have enriched with some manure and spaced a foot or two apart. In the next year, don't pick any to allow the roots to bulk up and the next year you can start cropping again. Always leave some stalks on the plant, and stop picking about July to let it get some strength back.
  • zarazara
    zarazara Posts: 2,264 Forumite
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    TonyMMM wrote: »
    You won't kill it by splitting it ... dig it up - cut it into chunks with a spade - as long as a piece has a bud on it it will regrow. Throw away the old centre part of the root , and replant the pieces in soil you have enriched with some manure and spaced a foot or two apart. In the next year, don't pick any to allow the roots to bulk up and the next year you can start cropping again. Always leave some stalks on the plant, and stop picking about July to let it get some strength back.
    Cant add anything to this, excellent advice. But cant help myself, LOL, Forcing rhubarb to do what? run the 100yard dash? :rotfl::rotfl:
    "The purpose of Life is to spread and create Happiness" :j
  • Farway
    Farway Posts: 13,339 Forumite
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    Pixiechic wrote: »
    Thank you Farway, I will go and remove the bucket! I can get some horse manure too which I hope will help it out a bit.

    Just bung it on in winter is best, but now would be fine before it really gets going

    You can expect tree trunk size sticks this year

    A Wilkinson one I have seen is Red Canadian, I got one last year & already it is spouting with stalks [no need for forcing bucket ;)], not tasted it yet, but it does seem a good 'un, long red stems & vigorous supposedly

    If you have space, why not get different varieties just to have wide choice?
    Eight out of ten owners who expressed a preference said their cats preferred other peoples gardens
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