Posted in Botany, Plant This | Comments Off on Rhubarb

There is no special trick to planting rhubarb. Just give it some sunlight, plenty of compost, and choose a permanent spot, because rhubarb doesn’t like to get moved around. Space the crowns about 3 feet apart, and bury them just deep enough to cover the top of the crown with a couple inches of soil. Pile a little more aged manure around the plants every spring, give it regular water, and that’s all the care it needs.

Go easy the first year or two, harvesting only a few stalks. By the third year you’ll get a better harvest, but don’t ever pick more than half the stalks from a single plant. Rather than cutting the stalks, grip them firmly near the base and give them a little twist and pull. They should come out fairly easily. The most tender stalks grow in spring and early summer; by July they can get a little tough.  Remove flowering stalks to force the plant to put its energy into growing more foliage rather than setting seed.  (order rhubarb online here.)

Remember that the leaves are toxic; you only want to eat the stalks.  Here’s a suggestion of how to work it into any drink that calls for simple syrup.  And if you can’t be bothered to grow your own, try a delightful liqueur called Rhubarb Tea from Art in the Age.


Rhubarb simple syrup

1 loosely-packed cup chopped rhubarb stalks

1 cup sugar

1 cup water

Other fruits or herbs to taste (lemon verbena, strawberry, scented geranium, for instance)

Combine all ingredients and simmer gently for 15 to 20 minutes. Once the stalks are soft, press them with a muddler or wooden spoon to release the juice. Allow to cool, then strain and bottle. Keep tightly sealed in the refrigerator. Adding an ounce of vodka as a preservative will help extend the life of the simple syrup.