“Why can’t I grow rhubarb like that?” This is a question we often hear when visitors see our rhubarb patch. From a dozen plants we can pick 6 or more bunches of rhubarb every week for most weeks in the year. So this is how we grow rhubarb at Lambley.
1) We only plant named varieties which are grown by division. Some of these varieties have been grown in Australia for a century or more and are true and tried varieties.
2) We don’t grow any of the seedlings offered by chain stores and garden centres. Seed raised plants are never as good as those raised from division. One common variety raised from seed is called ‘Queen Victoria’. Don’t be tempted.
3) Preparing the garden bed properly is essential. We dig a 120cm to 150cm wide bed and include masses of compost. This compost is mixed into the soil. We find that spent mushroom compost is very good. A good handful of garden lime is also incorporated at this point.
4) Rhubarb crowns are planted on 1 metre centres. That is they are planted 1 metre apart with their snout just at soil surface level or a little below. Remember that the soil will tend to sink a bit over time.
5) We then cover the bed with 5-10cm of mushroom compost or old chook manure. We would only use the latter if we are planting during winter.
6) Water well at planting time which in winter will be all that’s required depending on the season. If planting from pots later in the year we water every few days or so until the plant settles in.
7) Now comes the hard part. We resist all temptation and don’t pick any rhubarb stems for at least a year. The crown has to build up size and strength.