Rhubarb-rhubarb-rhubarb.

Harvesting and preserving your fruit & veg

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Ricard with an H
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Rhubarb-rhubarb-rhubarb.

Postby Ricard with an H » Sun May 08, 2016 6:56 am

I'm not complaining, this is my first year of a steady crop since I planted them though they were grown from seed.

I have two clay forcing pots and two black dustbins dealing with five plants, I think I have one too many plants for our use but just cannot bring myself to digging one up and I don't have a nice fertile place to plant it or anyone to give it too.

I'll need counciling over this.

Also, when do I stop forcing ? Do the crowns tell you by not producing fruit ? We had rhubarb with custard, rhubarb crumble, rhubarb cake and last nigh we had rhubarb mess. Fantastic.

I still have a large kilner jar full in the fridge and some in the freezer so it's rhubarb mess for a few weeks yet.
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Re: Rhubarb-rhubarb-rhubarb.

Postby Primrose » Sun May 08, 2016 7:21 am

I have two rhubarb plants which is more than enough for the two of us. I've already taken the cover off one of my plants and am now letting them grow naturally in the sunlight.
I have two problems with rhubarb as a fruit through:

1) It often needs a lot of sugar to make it palatable. Does anybody have a solution to this?
2) It disintegrates so quickly if you overcook it (which I occasionally do if I get over-enthusiastic with the microwave.

It's nice with oranges mixed in, and also delicious if chopped stem ginger is included.
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Re: Rhubarb-rhubarb-rhubarb.

Postby peter » Sun May 08, 2016 9:10 am

Don't force all your plants!
If you have four or five then force two each year, they're putting up all the stalks you eat with no sunlight and need to recover. Plus the unforced ones can give you a longer season. The Yorkshire champagne rhubarb is grown in fields then dug up and used in sheds, I think it is then done for.
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Re: Rhubarb-rhubarb-rhubarb.

Postby robo » Sun May 08, 2016 9:42 am

I have around five plants I've never forced it I can't see the point we have been eating it since March there is only so much you can eat but it is nice
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Re: Rhubarb-rhubarb-rhubarb.

Postby Ricard with an H » Sun May 08, 2016 12:56 pm

Thanks for the helpful comments, I'll take the covers off today and rest them. Good tip Peter.

I tried three different ways of cooking rhubarb and my favourite way is microwave but only cook it until half the rhubarb has gone watery, then I found the chunks were tender enough so you get chunks in a sauce.

A good tip one of you gave us was to use vanilla, I put vanilla extract in. The idea is that this reduces the required sugar. I don't know because I just kept adding sugar until it tasted good though I'm not a sweet tooth so don't have a sugar problem.

I'm the rhubarb King around here. (Smile)
It's all sheep and cows, no people. Perfect.
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Re: Rhubarb-rhubarb-rhubarb.

Postby Monika » Sun May 08, 2016 7:21 pm

We have five rhubarb plants and I only ever force one of them, thus leaving them to grow normally for the following four years. It's Timperley Early and we often eat unforced rhubarb in February (one year we even had a bit at Christmas!). The five plants have been in the same ground for more than 30 years now, never split, never replanted, but they get a good layer of well-rotted cow muck every autumn.

As for the sugar, Primrose: I buy ready-to-eat soft apricots and prunes, chop them very small and add them to the cooking rhubarb for sweetening. I know, that is still sugar, but not the added refined sort.
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Re: Rhubarb-rhubarb-rhubarb.

Postby PLUMPUDDING » Sun May 08, 2016 9:53 pm

I've got Timperley Early too, just one very large old plant and like Monika have early pickings most years without covering it except with a thick mulch of hen hut cleanings in autumn. I only pick enough to use straight away and don't worry about letting some grow large it is quite architectural.
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Re: Rhubarb-rhubarb-rhubarb.

Postby Ricard with an H » Mon May 09, 2016 6:54 am

I'm now thinking about moving my rhubarb to a dedicated rhubarb patch, yes it is architectural but the huge leaves and stalks place some of my comfrey into shade and this comfrey plants are noticeably smaller than all the others. That's not to say I'll run short of comfrey if I don't move the rhubarb though I also wonder what the comfrey is doing to the rhubarb.

Do I leave this move until winter ? Do I move them now so they have fine weather for recovery ?
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Re: Rhubarb-rhubarb-rhubarb.

Postby Geoff » Mon May 09, 2016 10:45 am

I'd leave them be now you've got them established and cropping. I don't think Comfrey will interfere. I agree with other advice, only force a minimum each year, with your climate I wouldn't think you need bother.
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Re: Rhubarb-rhubarb-rhubarb.

Postby John » Mon May 09, 2016 4:52 pm

There is always a lot of confusion over rhubarb treatment.
Forcing involves digging up the roots in late autumn, exposing them to cold hopefully frost then moving into warm dark sheds to grow on and produce a very early crop.
What most of us do on our plots is to cover the crowns in early spring to exclude light which is blanching. The plants do not suffer too much as the roots are not disturbed. We get early tender stalks a bit later than 'forced' roots. I've always found that the crowns quickly recover from this treatment as the season progresses.
I have a vigorous variety Stockbridge Arrow which thrives on being covered every year for a afew week by a dalek type compost bin.
Early stalks are superb.
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Re: Rhubarb-rhubarb-rhubarb.

Postby Ricard with an H » Tue May 10, 2016 6:50 am

Thanks again to all for the help, advice and probably getting many of us up-to-speed on the forcing process.

I did actually dig up the fifth crown, it was far too close to two others and I was prepared too loose it if things went pear-shaped.

As it happens the roots were not only very deep but spread in such a way that it was inevitable that I damage it. The loss is no-biggy, I get more rhubarb than I can eat as it is.

The remaining four crowns have been heavily mulched with home-composted waste and I'll now leave them to become architectural.

Prior to growing our own we would have never bought rhubarb which is possibly a good reason for anyone to grow something they might get to like, if it's in the garden you're more likely to give it a go in the kitchen than if you have to physically buy.

As each season goes by in my apprenticeship my kitchen garden evolves, expands a little and becomes more effective. I wasn't going too bother with French bush beans this year because they always end up poorly or fail but one you came up with a solution that I put into action and all because of talking about it. I'll post photos later on the relevant thread if I can find it.

The future for my rhubarb is looking rosy.
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Re: Rhubarb-rhubarb-rhubarb.

Postby Pawty » Tue May 10, 2016 7:09 am

My rhubarb plant was free - from a divided plant on an allotment neighbours plot. No idea what variety but it tastes good and keeps my work colleagues in rhubarb for the year. Honestly, who'd have though that a few rhubarb sticks could bring such a smile to people's faces.

It's not that I don't love it, but let's just say it's independent .... It sits happily by the hedge on its own. I never cover it, or weed it. The only maintenance it has is that I place old and unpicked cabbage or kale around it February / March. Which never seems to hurt it.

I've just given some to a friend who is going to make a syrup out of it to add to his home made cider. Yum.
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Re: Rhubarb-rhubarb-rhubarb.

Postby Ricard with an H » Tue May 10, 2016 8:55 am

Pawty wrote:My rhubarb plant was free

It's not that I don't love it


My seedlings were free, the lady who grew them wasn't keen on rhubarb and I accepted those seedlings with suitable respect for her generosity though I also wasn't big on rhubarb. Probably because I never gave it a go, now that I had rhubarb mess and rhubarb with yoghurt and granola I'm a "Rhubarb-head".
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Re: Rhubarb-rhubarb-rhubarb.

Postby robo » Tue May 10, 2016 9:16 am

When I was a kid you would regularly see a kid in the street with a small bag of sugar and a stick of rhubarb it was a delicacy it was before bags of sweets at least it was around here
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Re: Rhubarb-rhubarb-rhubarb.

Postby peter » Tue May 10, 2016 11:04 am

Rhubarb can be added to lamb stews. As apricots sometimes are. :D
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