Harvesting Rhubarb

green rhubarb

We are gearing up for harvesting season! With the recent rain and warmer temperatures, rhubarb will soon be ripe, if it isn’t already! Picking rhubarb is a very simple process, however there are few tips to keep in mind:

–Before you start–

  • Remember, only the stalks of the plant are edible!
  • Refrain from picking stalks if this is the first year of planting the rhubarb
  • Rhubarb can be harvested about every 4 to 5 weeks, or about 3 times a season
  • Rhubarb growth may be affected by lack of water, poor drainage, high temperatures and frost

–What to look for–

  • Stalks should be about 10-20 inches long 
  • The length and thickness of the stalk can vary according to weather conditions and the variety of the plant
  • Don’t wait for the rhubarb to turn red as color is not an indicator of ripeness
I'm still growing! Don't pick me yet!
I’m still growing! Don’t pick me yet!

 

I'm ready for picking!
I’m ready for picking!

 

–How to pick–

  • Start by picking the bigger stalks on the outside of the plant and work your way towards the centre
  • A simple pull at the bottom of the stalk should release it; otherwise cutting with shears will work
  • Leave 1/3 of the stalks intact to ensure the plant continues to grow and thrive during summer

–Plant maintenance–

  • Trim the leaves and put them in the compost
  • Once the plant starts to flower, the stalks will get tough; to extend the season, cut off the flower stalk
  • Towards the end of June, give the plant a chance to gain some strength over the summer; add compost around the roots
  • Rhubarb doesn’t like heat and won’t do much in summer; you may get more growth in the cool fall season
  • When you make the last harvest of the season, remove all leaves to avoid rotting

For more information and tasty recipes search past blog posts here at FruitShare.ca or buy the Prairie Fruit Cookbook !