Rhubarb is a sturdy perenial plant that can last 10-15 years. It's resistant to pests and diseases, but needs a period of frost to start developing in the spring. This vegetable is perfect for farming in cooler climate like in Canada or northern states. Growing rhubarb is easy if you follow these tips.
Choose the spot in half shade with acidic soil. It must be well drained, or the plants will rot. As you won't be able to disturb the rhubarb plot for years, prepare it a month before planting.
First, remove all weeds. Dig deep to improve the structure of the soil. Work in a significant amount of compost or cured manure (never use it fresh to avoid burning your crops).
Plant in the early spring. How? Dig deep holes 24'' from each other. Keep the 3 feet space between the rows. Place the stalks into the holes so that the crowns are 5'' below the surface of the ground. Fill with the soil. Pat down the area around the stalks, but leave the ground soft above the crowns.
In the first year after planting don't harvest, let the plants strenghten roots without interruption. In the second year make sure you leave some stalks. Later you can collect as much as you need.
Never eat the leaves, because they contain toxic oxalic acid. You can compost them as the poison breaks down then (some people say it messes up the compost, but it's a myth).
If the stems were deeply frozen and feel soft and mushy, throw them away. Why? It's a sign that toxin could have migrated to the stalks.
Don't let all that poison talk keep you from growing rhubarb. This vegetable is easy to cultivate and rewards your efforts handsomely. Just think about all those yummy rhubarb receipes!
Check out more vegetable gardening tips here at Vegetable Corner.