By: Amy Grant
If you are a rhubarb lover, try planting Riverside Giantrhubarb plants. Many people think of rhubarb as being red, but back in the daythis veggie was more commonly green. These huge rhubarb plants are known fortheir thick, green stems that are excellent for canning, freezing, making intojam and of course pie. Read on to learn how to grow giant rhubarb plants andother Riverside Giant rhubarb info.
Rhubarb is a perennial that loses its leavesin the fall and then requires a winter chilling period to produce in thespring. Rhubarb can be grown in USDA zones 3-7 and tolerates temps as low as -40F. (-40 C.). All rhubarbs thrive in cooler temperatures, but Riverside Giantgreen rhubarb is one of the hardiest varieties of rhubarb out there.
Like other types of rhubarb, Riverside Giant greenrhubarb plants rarely suffer from pests, and if they do, the pests usuallyattack the foliage, not the stem or petiole which is the part we eat. Diseasescan occur, especially if giant rhubarb plants are grown in soil that is toomoist or in an area with little aeration.
Once Riverside Giant green rhubarb has established, it canbe left to grow untended for 20 years or more. It will, however, take about 3years from planting before you can harvest the plant.
When planting Riverside Giant rhubarb crowns, choose an areaof full sun to partial shade with deep, rich, and moist but well-draining soilin the spring. Dig a hole that is wider than the crown and deep enough to thatthe eyes are 2-4 inches (5-10 cm.) below the soil’s surface. Amend the soilwith compost or aged manure prior to planting. Fill in around the crown withthe amended soil. Tamp down around the crown and water in well.
Generally, rhubarb does quite well when left to its owndevices. That said, rhubarb is a heavy feeder, so apply compost annually or anall-purpose fertilizer according to the manufacturer’s instructions early inthe spring.
If you live in a warmer region, mulching around the base ofthe plant will help keep the soil cool and moist. Keep the soil moist but notsodden.
If the plant quits producing as itshould after 5-6 years, it may have too many offsets and is overcrowded. Ifthis seems to be the case, dig up the plant and divide the rhubarb in the spring or fall.
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Growing Rhubarb is a permanent situation (perennial). A cool season perennial, Rhubarb is very winter hardy. Rhubarb grows from crowns of rhizomes and buds.
Following a season of growth the Rhubarb crown becomes dormant during winter. Bud development requires temperatures below 40В°F.
Rhubarb shoots that appear in spring are edible. These emerge sequentially as long as temperatures remain below 90В°F. Top growth is suppressed as temperatures increase and appearing dormant in periods of high heat.
While Rhubarb leaves do contain poisonous materials, they can be used in the compost pile.
Once planted, Rhubarb plantings remain productive for 8 to 15 years.
Caution: The leaves of rhubarb contain oxalic acid and soluble oxalates. Eating Rhubarb leaves can cause nausea, vomiting, abdominal pains, and even death. The concern expressed by some individuals is that the oxalic acid and soluble oxalates would move from the leaves to the stalks upon exposure to freezing temperatures. In fact, however, the movement of these compounds into the stalks is not a problem.
What should I fertilize my rhubarb with.?
The year after planting, it's a good idea to fertilize your rhubarb plants in early spring, before the plant begins to sprout significantly. Use an all purpose fertilizer - a 10-10-10 formula works well. Compost or well rotted manure also works well as a fertilizer. If you use a granular type fertilizer, apply it according to the manufacturer's instructions. It is usually applied at a rate of 1 1/2 pounds per 100 square feet. Sprinkle the granules around the plant, being careful not to let the granules come in contact with the plant itself. This may burn the plant or have other adverse consequences. After applying the granular fertilizer, water it in well
(Quoted or modified from USDA Ag. Handbook 66 and other sources)
Store at 32 F and 95 to 100% relative humidity. Fresh rhubarb stalks in good condition can be stored 2 to 4 weeks at 32 F and high relative humidity. Rhubarb can be hydro-cooled or air-cooled, and the temperature of the stalks should reach 32 or 33 F within 1 day of harvest. The topped bunches or loose stalks should be packed in crates, and the crates should be stacked to allow ample air circulation otherwise, there is danger of heating and mold growth.
Moisture loss in storage will be much less if the bunched or loose stalks are packed in crates lined with perforated polyethylene film.
Fresh rhubarb cut into 1-inch pieces and packaged in 1-lb perforated polyethylene bags can be held 2 to 3 weeks at 32 F with high relative humidity.