Rhubarb Picking

It’s time to harvest rhubarb!  I can’t wait for the first rhubarb crisp of the season.

Here are some rhubarb harvesting tips:

  • Stalks should be about 10 to 20 inches long.  Size is a much better indicator of readiness than colour since some varieties will never turn completely red.  They’re suppose to be green with a little bit of red on the bottom – so don’t wait for them to turn red!
  • Start with the bigger stalks on the outside of the plant and work your way towards the centre.  Leave the smaller stalks for another day.
  • Leave 1/3 of the stalks to ensure the plant continues to grow and thrive throughout the summer.
  • Simply slide your hand to the bottom of the stalk and pull.  The stalk should come out nice and easy.
  • If you find you’re pulling out roots or you can’t reach, you can also cut the stalks at the bottom.
  • Trim the leaves and put them in the compost. (Yes, the leaves are poisonous, but they won’t hurt your compost bin.)
  • Once the plant starts to flower, the stalks will get a little tough.  To extend the season, cut off the flower stalks.
  • Towards the end of June, give the plant a chance to gain some strength over the summer.  Add a little compost around the roots and let it be.
  • Rhubarb doesn’t like the heat and won’t do much during the summer, but you may get some more stalks in the cool fall season.

Concerned that your neighbour’s rhubarb plant is bigger than yours?   To get a big luscious rhubarb plant think about moisture, drainage, compost and sun.  These are the elements that will make a rhubarb plant thrive.  But, luckily, even if conditions aren’t ideal, rhubarb is very tolerant plant and you’re bound to get  a pie or two.

For more rhubarb information check out last year’s post on Top 5 Questions about Rhubarb.

Here’s some pictures of rhubarb plants to help you see the different stages.

Young rhubarb plant, still too small to pick
Ready to pick
Starting to Flower - pick soon or stalks will get tough
Of course, if you have too much rhubarb, don’t like rhubarb or know of anyone who isn’t picking their rhubarb – call us!  We have eager volunteers ready to pick rhubarb to share with their families and with local food charities.